Monday 09 December 2013 10:22 UTC
Where have you been? What have you seen?
I was at a party with quite a few fellow aviators. Out of the blue: “Fancy doing the Intermediate/Advanced formation course?” said [b]Foie Gras[/b]? Funny you should say that!
I had been looking to do this for some time and had already asked my original basic formation course buddy [b]RoyS[/b] but he wasn’t available so I had pretty much given up on the Idea. Then, at the party the opportunity came up.
The answer was a very big YES.
We hatched a plan, I was off work for a couple of days this week, so we should give it a go. Places booked with Ultimate High, we were off.
A week before this we decided to have a fly together, never having done this together in formation. Its always a good idea to get a feel for flying with the other person. After a couple of long sea crossings with me leading to and then FG leading back from Guernsey, we felt we needed some real formation flying and so we were quite happy to be able to get together for a flight and some practice before the event. You can read about that, [url=http://forums.flyer.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=48296]here.[/url]
The Day before, the forecast wasn’t looking good.
I awoke hoping the TAF’s would be good enough and despite some gusty conditions I could fly rather than drive to Kemble – great – it would be really fast!
I didn’t plan on the 45kt headwind :shock:
At Shoreham, I managed to leave as early as possible, the Air/Ground crew in the tower informed me the current METAR was: [i]EGKA 010650Z 24023G39KT 9999 FEW015 BKN022 15/11 Q0999 [/i] A bit gusty, to say the least! I asked for RW25, and they kindly got “Birdie” (the Yellow Land Rover) out to check the runway for me, and the wind kindly swung round to 290. It was a little wild but within my comfort zone.
Climbing out of Shoreham the turbulence was incredible and over the south downs [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9O3Aj_-B-QM]it was a roller coaster of a ride.[/url]
I was glad I didn’t have a passenger that might start feeling sick at this point. The bulldog cuts through turbulence quite well, I wouldn’t have liked to be in a light C150. Nerveless I made it to Kemble by 9.30, a quite incredible headwind that gave me a ground speed of barely 60kts at times despite 100kts cruise on the ASI. I was being overtaken by cars on the motorway down below, as I passed south of Swindon!
Once settled in, and a splendid AV8 Bacon Baguette woofed down it was time for the briefing and Nitro and Bernie were to be our instructors for the two days, the poor sods!
The Briefing was in the usual very thorough way that UH do all their briefings.
The initial briefing went like this: Formation take off, climb in formation with climbing turns and then into some gentle Yo-Yo’s (climbing turns, descending turns whilst in formation Echelon left, Right and Line Astern) Some Turning Re-joins, then into some steeper Wingovers in formation and then into the Tailchase. The lead would then change and the sequence replay again. Once complete, a formation return to base for a formation landing.
We then covered our emergency procedures in some detail. What the calls are and what we would do in the various circumstances – loss of RT, engine loss on take off, an aircraft loosing sight of the other – all were covered.
It was pretty clear that our formation skills were not as good as we thought and our knowledge of the SOP’s needed some more work – great that’s what we were here for!
We climbed in, did our start-up checks and then awaited the signal from FG, thumb up and lights on and we were given the start signal. We warmed the engine.
FG called on the Radio “Bulldog Check” And without thinking, I replied “Bulldog 2”. Doh! :doh: We had both failed to use the correct callsign as briefed – what a fantastic start :oops: And I was equally guilty as I had replied. What a couple of muppets.
The first formation take off was led by FG, we lined up and I watched for the wind up signals and the nod… As FG’s head nodded forwards I slowly increased power and got left behind a little, catching up again for the takeoff run. The aircraft lifted off and I was slotted in, the turbulence bouncing us around quite badly.
FG gives the flap signal, and Nods and I take the Takeoff flaps out. We eased out to the waiting position for checks (fuel flow, power settings etc) and checks complete we ease back into close formation.
My instructor (Nitro) was spotting every little error.
“your dropping back”.. yes I know! “Have you got your references?” Yes, I know Im out… “your going deep” yes…
We climbed up and carried out the yo-yo’s and boy this is hard work. Climbing and turning, the speed starts dropping. Is he going left or right? He is going right, reduce power and drop down, match the angle of bank.. come on come on, get it together!
Descending, speed increasing, keep station.. and then.. climbing again.. stay with it… I get wide and begin to lag, full throttle and I drag it back in eventually and then FG turns towards me again… argh this is not easy!!
A change of position to Echelon Left, and some of the same again. Then its Line Astern and some steeper turns and manoeuvres. I feel most comfortable Line astern (funny as it was my most problematic at the initial training) however slotted in, my ever eagle eyed instructor spots im 6” to the left of station and corrects me on my reference point!
Time for some Turning rejoins – back into Echelon right and its “Merlin - Turning rejoin, follow me, follow me – GO!”
FGs aircraft banks hard left and after a prompt from the RH seat – I follow.
“Merlin 2 visual” and I am cleared to join Echelon Right again…. It was clear I was out of pratice and indeed the first attempt I overshot and sailed past without a hope of getting into position, so another two or so goes were completed.
Giving the command on the radio with the base height, Off they went and the fun begins…
Wingovers, barrel rolls, Loops. All whilst close in chasing the other aircraft and attempting to keep the aircraft in view. “Match the bank angle” says Nitro in a calm voice.. Im trying as best I can but we start to lag a bit, so we tighten up by turning early. FGs aircraft flys what looks like a perfect barrel roll and I try to follow – keeping him in view, “Roll!” shouts Nitro.. I am trying!
We follow FG downwards, airspeed increasing, pretty clear this is going to be a loop next at this speed. Up goes FG and a short delay we pull up after him, Nitro prompting all the time: “tighter, pull harder, pull go on pull!”
We see FG decending in the loop as we climb to the top and pull over and we come down the other side with FG below us and we look into the top of cockpit as they speed away.. we are quickly in position again for the next manoeuvre.
Fun over its back into echelon for a leader change.
My turn to lead the formation and consider my number 2.
FG slots in nicely and we are into some gentle yo-yo’s and the sequence is repeated.
I forget to clearly look in the direction im going, Im trying to fly the aircraft in a climb at a certain speed, a certain angle of bank and my instructor seems to have eyes in the back of the head. Im sure these instructors are a breed apart, almost using "the force" to monitor ones performance. Nitro says “you didn’t look right there did you?” and theres no getting away from it, he was correct.
The flight continues again as briefed and we re-form for the approach back to Kemble. We are at 3000 feet, there’s a stonking wind blowing and we need to loose height so we start a descending turn with FG close in on my right wing hanging in there.
On the downwind leg, I give the flap signal and lean forwards and both bulldogs select intermediate. We continue round the bumpy circuit, turbulent conditions for formation. Coming round onto final, we select final flap and its now a case of bringing the aircraft in in a manner the number2 can keep up with, without overshooting us, so no massive power or speed changes. On short final it gets incredibly turbulent and my mind goes blank – what am I supposed to say & do again? The turbulence and impending landing and I give the controls to Nitro, “You have control – you land this one for me” I feel I will get more from sitting and watching on this, rather than struggle. And I do, I learn the cut command point and the fact we keep flying a little longer to allow number 2 to touch first and get braking action on a fraction before us.
That was hard work. We taxi back in for refuel and the debrief.
The debrief is as thorough as the briefing. We examine every aspect of the flight, the manoeuvres and moments, the instructors suggesting better ways things could have been done.
Over the two days we continue these sorties.
Towards the end on the last trip, I feel that Im more relaxed in formation, the higher g manoeuvres are better and line astern I am feeling quite at home now, very relaxed close in and following through wingovers.
The UH courses are designed to push the student and I certainly felt this during all the training flights, the constant prompting highlighted so many areas I can improve on, to sharpen up my flying.
The greatest compliment I had was in one particular climb out whilst in position echelon right, Nitro said “well you’ve got this now, Im even getting time to look at the scenery” ! Of course, seconds after those fateful words, FG turned and it all went to pot of course :lol
The flight home in my more familiar dawg is interesting, with some awesome scenery and Im forced to go frollicking in the clouds south of Goodwood.
A couple of fantastic days, some great weather, fun company and superb instruction.
Thanks to UH for some excellent training, really pushing our limits and sharpening our game. :D :D :D :D
edited to get FG spelling correct :roll:
Last edited by Ridders on Sat Oct 04, 2008 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Are you it was the same course BR and not the one day tailchasing you did?
Amazing you found the time to take all those pics Ridders
[quote='Ridders']The best bit for me was one sortie using just hand signals, with formation changes from E left, to Line Astern, then to E Right, all without radio calls. [/quote]
Very glad that you enjoyed it and found it worthwhile Ridders, by all accounts you both did really well!
The use of hand signals is tremendously useful; Charlie Mac and I were flying an Extra300 air2air photo sortie a couple of weeks ago, one of the aircraft lost a radio and we were under time pressure to get the pictures in the bag, so the entire sortie (admittedly after a very careful brief beforehand, but before we knew we had a no-comms aeroplane) was flown using hand signals - as you say, extremely satisfying when it all works!
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests
Login / Register