Thursday, December 7, 2023

2023 US Fireworks Champion Crowned at Sky Wars

Smith and his “Not My Show” crew are crowned the winners of Sky Wars’ 2023 “Championship of Champions” Pro-Am fireworks competition.

39-foot scaffolding adorned with pyrotechnics in the center of a field filled with other pyrotechnic set-ups.

The 39-foot scaffolding adorned with pyrotechnics was a prominent feature on the Sky Wars field and in Scott Smith’s winning display. Photos by Sam Christensen.

Long-exposure image captured during Scott Smith’s winning display.

Long-exposure image captured during Scott Smith’s winning display. Photo by Matt Hovey.

Scott Smith of Cedar Hill, MO was crowned the winner of Sky Wars’ US Fireworks Invitational Championship Pro-Am division on Sept. 23rd.

To set ourselves apart, we needed to do something different.”

— Scott Smith

INNSBROOK, MISSOURI, USA, October 9, 2023 / — Scott Smith of Cedar Hill, MO was crowned the winner of Sky Wars’ US Fireworks Invitational Championship Pro-Am division in a battle of choreography, ingenuity, and design on Saturday, Sept. 23rd in Innsbrook, Missouri.

Smith, the 2020 Sky Wars Pro-Am competition winner, competed against 2021 winner AJ Plata of Sandwich, IL and 2022 winner Mike Allen of Glasgow, KY in the 2023 ‘Champion of Champions’ competition.

Smith, Plata, and Allen each used over 3,000 individual pyrotechnic items in their 7 to 8 minute shows. The three competitors said they each spent at least a thousand hours scripting and preparing their eight to nine minute shows.

Innovation was a key factor in Smith’s win. “I knew I couldn’t do the same thing I’ve done before. To set ourselves apart, we needed to do something different,” Smith said.

A major feature of his show was the use of a 39-foot scaffolding unit he’d procured from his brother’s construction company, adorned with pyrotechnic devices and positioned in the center of the display field. The scaffolding allowed Smith to choreograph two very unique effect sequences, one of which was a “ricochet” effect to give the appearance that pyrotechnic elements were bouncing off of the ground after being shot from the scaffolding.

“I think those [ricochets] were my favorite shots,” Smith said, noting that many attendees commented to him afterwards that they’d never seen anything like it before.

Pyrotechnic videographer Brandon Schmidt commented, “[That] is the most creative thing I’ve seen in pyro in years.”

Another innovative technique from Smith’s show was what Schmidt nicknamed the “Pyro Slam”, where Smith emulated a cannonball hitting water by having pyrotechnics zip up one side of the scaffolding and down the other, followed by larger effects ‘splashing’ up from the ground. Smith said he’d come up with the idea when playing around in the scripting software Finale3D, and “it definitely had the effect we wanted” with “the perfect song and the right product.”

For a show of this size, Smith had the help of a relatively small set-up crew of 9 to 10 people. “I couldn’t ask for any more from that crew. We were probably the smallest crew out there.” He said his daughter Erin took leave from the air force in San Antonio to come help, and even his wife Dana jumped in when she could tell his team was a little more stressed than usual.

When asked how he felt about being named the US Fireworks Champion, Smith admitted that the national title didn’t sink in until at least a week later. “It didn’t hit me right away. It’s pretty special to have that title.”

Smith said it was an honor to shoot another show at Sky Wars three years after his 2020 Pro Am Championship win, and an even bigger honor to compete in the same competition as his fellow past champions Plata and Allen. Following his show, Smith’s four-year-old grandson sat in his lap and told him he wants to shoot a big show like that. “One of the coolest parts about this is it makes him happy,” Smith said, and teased that he’d like for him and his grandson to be the first grandparent-grandchild winners of Sky Wars. “I would love to work on his crew 20 years from now.”

Sky Wars, the US Invitational Fireworks Championship, is the largest and one of the only fireworks competitions in the nation. It is presented annually in Innsbrook, MO by the Missouri Pyrotechnics Association ( Tickets to the 2024 US Fireworks Championship will go on-sale in late October to members of the Sky Wars free mailing list.

Recordings of all shows presented at the 2023 US Fireworks Championship are available on the Sky Wars website.

Rob Cima
Missouri Pyrotechnics Association
+1 314-730-0793
[email protected]
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Scott Smith’s Winning 2023 Pro-Am Pyromusical

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