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Thread: Civilian Formations For Vets Today

  1. #1
    Jim Rosenow's Avatar
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    Civilian Formations For Vets Today

    So.....with the mil not doing fly-overs this year, how many folks got hit up to do a 'missing man' for the local Vets? Locally, we did a 3-ship with a J-3, Pitts, and Citabria. At the appropriate time, the Pitts did an 'up and out' with smoke from the middle position.

    We heard at least one more group on 122.75 apparently doing the same...direct quote from the freq, "This Blue Angels stuff isn't as easy as it looks".

  2. #2
    FlyingRon's Avatar
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    I feel compelled to point out that LIVING VETS are not what Memorial day is all about. Decoration day / Memorial day isa bout those who DIED in service of our country. While I have ultimate respect for all those who served, this holiday is dedicated to those who gave "the last full measure of their devotion."

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    Sounds like the original poster was trying to honor the vets who are not with us.

    So one of the scarier things that I see is some pilots getting together and saying "lets go fly formation" with no prep or training flights. For some reason folks who have never flown closer to each other than many hundreds of feet in the traffic pattern think that flying as close as the Blue Angels do is easy. Fortunately most don't get very close before their anxiety peaks and you do not often hear of them colliding.

    So if I may offer some hopefully constructive suggestions....

    The T-34 association has a good manual on flying formation. Buy it. Not cheap but crunching your airplane is more expensive.

    If you fly formation over an "open air assembly of persons" the FAA cares. You are likely going to be lower than the FAR's allow and the FAA would like you to apply for a Certificate of Authorization. But then they will want you to be FAST qualified. FAST is the umbrella organization for qualifying formation flyers that the FAA recognizes. There are multiple groups that operate under the FAST umbrella, each group specializing a some types of aircraft. Find one and get real training.

    Life gets pretty serious when you have multiple aircraft 2 wing spans apart. If lead gets too slow and turns into his or her wingman, the wingman can stall and spin away. There was an accident at OSH one year where an RV spun in in front of everyone because of this. Lead has to think about all of the other airplanes, be smooth, and do nothing that was not planned and whose imminent execution is not signalled. Planning is everything. Talking it out on the radio in real time has you one step towards and accident. I can fly as wingman for an entire formation hop and say absolutely nothing on the radio.

    Flying a formation with dissimilar aircraft is taking the challenge to another level. Ups the difficulty considerably because the lead pilot has to take into account the available performance of every aircraft in formation. The performance envelopes of something like a Cub and Pitts barely overlap. Easy to have an accident. Ever stalled in formation? I have, fortunately at 12,000'. Doing it during a parade flyover at a lower altitude might have really tragic results.

    So I urge you to go find a former military pilot or someone who participates in a FAST program and learn how to safely fly formation. And then fly some practice with the folks you intend to show off with. And read the FARs very carefully.

    Done the right way flying formation is fun and satisfying. So now you have another excuse to go fly a lot.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS
    Last edited by WLIU; 05-27-2013 at 08:40 PM.

  4. #4
    Jim Rosenow's Avatar
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    "Compelled" Ron? Hmmmm! :-) Anyway, to clear it up...We were requested to do a missing man formation for ceremonies at the local veterans memorial honoring....well, you know....at the cemetary.

    I agree completely with Wes' comments, and it's good advice for all.

    He may also have made some invalid assumptions. Our pilots... (1) Former USAF T-38 IP/current CFII, (2) bazillion hour acro/competition/formation Pitts pilot, (3) 15K hour ATP/CFII. The flight was practiced on 3 days, and fully briefed. We violated no FAR's, including altitude. I felt safe enough I sat in the back seat (behind #3, my wife, by the way :-) and took pix.

    I watched the RV spin in out of the four-ship formation at OSH that was alluded to. I can still see it. To borrow a line from the best cop show ever, "Let's be careful out there!"

    Jim
    Last edited by Jim Rosenow; 05-27-2013 at 09:52 PM.

  5. #5
    JimRice85's Avatar
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    Who said anyone did this 1) without prior planning and coordination or 2) experience. They may have or they may have been highly skilled and FAST members. There isn't enough info to know, only enough to jump to a conclusion.
    Jim Rice
    Wolf River Airport (54M)
    Collierville, TN
    1946 Globe GC-1B Swift N3368K
    1946 Piper J-3C Cub N7155H

  6. #6

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    Thanks for the info.

    I would suggest that when posting about these sorts of things that the author say a few words about the folks who participate. Its easy to say something like "these folks asked us to do this so I dusted off my airforce training, grabbed some of my more experienced friends, we went out and practiced, and did our best to look good."

    The challenge, which is alluded to in the original post, is that folks see something like this, performed by guys who know what they are doing, or some reads an internet post, says "that looks easy", and goes out and gets in way over their head. So I will suggest that it is sort of good policy for all of us to include something about how or why it looks so easy when we post about it. And we all like to say nice things about ourselves, right?

    If my last post seemed it little bit like an over reaction, I will apologize. I have been unlucky enough to have seen some really close calls and a couple of incidents, one fatal.

    That said, for the pilot who wants to learn another skill, its another great excuse to go meet a lot of good pilots and fly a lot.

    And since Mr Rice is a Swift driver, I assume that he participates in the Swift Formation Program that was put together by Mike Kennedy. An example of one of the programs where you can learn formation flying and earn a FAST card.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78041
    Last edited by WLIU; 05-28-2013 at 07:07 AM.

  7. #7
    Jim Rosenow's Avatar
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    I would say more mis-direction than over-reaction, Wes. I hope the other group on the freq yesterday is sitting somewhere quietly reading these posts.

    I only felt the need to respond with specifics because my friends/wife fly for $$ and it's obvious who and where I am. Ergo, perception of flying impropriety by our group is a bad thing. I, on the other hand, have gotten away with MY bad habits for 42 years of flying cause no one pays me :-) (Emphasis...The last line is a JOKE!)

    I would add one more point to the discussion. Training and experience are good, but judgement is key. Most of us know the guy who has flown forever and is 'good'...the one who 'bounces' you, does the high speed pass thru the fly-in breakfast pattern, or shows up ten feet off your wing without warning. NEVER intentionally fly close to this person...they are a loose cannon. Choose your formation pilots with ever so much more care than you do your spouse. In MOST instances, your spouse won't have the opportunity to kill you.

    Jim

    PS...oh, yeah...the original post. We have strayed. Did anyone else have the opportunity to do this honor for our fallen heroes (and still willing to 'fess up to it :-) ?
    Last edited by Jim Rosenow; 05-28-2013 at 08:46 AM.

  8. #8

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    Wes, you always have something good to say. At Jim’s request, I will “fess up.”

    I was in the Guard back in the last century and was ordered to take part in a missing man formation. What could go wrong?
    1. Low level turbulence was pretty bad.
    2. We all stayed up late the night before. (one pilot may have been over served)
    3.The State Governor was late. We were sent to holding. Told to keep it out of sight low.
    4. Lead’s radio was acting up. Had to use hand signals. Did not swap lead.

    Execution was excellent. Landed with fumes.

  9. #9

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    Since the topic is Memorial Day - Thank you for your service.

    Wes

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