Bird’s Eye View
A former Mr. Wuf, Brett Rhinehardt ’91, helps stage aerial stunts and overhead shows at sporting events.
By David Menconi
After graduating from NC State, Brett Rhinehardt ’91 thought his way forward was clear. He was set to enter law school and pursue a career as an attorney. But he’d spent his senior year as Mr. Wuf, wearing the mascot costume as part of the cheerleading squad, and he had an offer to perform a similar role for the Carolina Mudcats minor-league baseball team. So he put off law school, put on the “Muddy Mudcat” costume — and never looked back.
In the decade that followed, Rhinehardt worked as the Seattle Mariners’ “Mariner Moose” and the “Nashville Predator” for the NHL team in Tennessee, often performing harrowing aerial stunts. When it came time to retire from the grind and start a family, he moved back to his native Charlotte, N.C.
But the industry wasn’t done with him. Rhinehardt was known for daredevil stunts involving trampolines or flying onto the floor of an arena via ziplines. His old mascot peers called to ask for pointers on making dramatic entrances. Seeing a niche, he formed Aerial Concepts Inc. in 2001 to do “overhead events” for professional sports teams. It’s a live-stunt production, rigging and performing company with clients in the NFL, NBA and NHL.
“If you want people to fly overhead, we make people fly,” Rhinehardt says. “Ziplines, rappels, winches, bungees, things like that. Imagine Peter Pan at an NFL stadium, that’s what we do.”
Rhinehardt is still hands-on enough to do some stunts himself, like becoming the first person to jump off the roof (tethered, of course) of London’s Tottenham Stadium in October 2021. He draws on a wealth of experience, both good and bad. In 1995, he was towed on rollerblades in the Seattle Kingdome when he went over a bullpen pitching mound and crashed into an outfield wall, breaking an ankle.
That would slow most people down. Not Rhinehardt. “By opening night I was doing backflips off a four-wheeler again.”