Sunday, October 6, 2013

Philip's Formation Flight

When Philip left this morning he was supposed to be gone all day and get back after the kids went to bed because the original flight plan for the day was a low-level afternoon flight up to northern Ohio and a night flight return to this area.  Because of the approaching thunderstorms they might have not had good enough weather for the return flight so the course leaders made a last minute change and decided to do the formation flight since it is a shorter flight in the local area.  We've been planning to visit on one of the flying days so after he found out about the change he called us and suggested we head out ASAP.  After their pre-flight briefings they realized the weather was coming in faster than expected so all of the takeoffs got moved up even sooner and he saw us park shortly after they started the engine.

We got to the fence next to the ramp just as they started to taxi out in the Cirrus SR-22

 Philip gets to sit in the left seat with an instructor pilot in the right seat

 They were the second plane in the two-ship formation.  They were called "Pulse Flight" and the lead was Pulse 1, Philip was in Pulse 2.

This plane came in to land while they were getting ready to take off.  The AMP students ride in the front seat of this plane for their acrobatic flight (one of the two that Philip still needs to complete). 

The fence is right at the end of the ramp so the kids had a front row seat for all of the action.

 Pulse 1 rolling down Runway 25...Pulse 2 started to roll 15 seconds later

 Pulse 2 is in the air

 Pulse 1 initially gained a lot of altitude which results in slower speed while Pulse 2 was supposed stay lower and gain speed to help them close the initial 15 second head start more quickly.  The slower altitude gain helped me get some better pictures on takeoff.

 They made a 180 degree turn shortly after takeoff to head for the practice area.

As they moved into a tighter formation it seemed like they were getting way too close!

They were gone for about an hour and most of the flying on this day was done by the instructors because formation flying (especially in the fingertip formation with only three feet between the wingtips) takes a lot more skill.  The IPs are mostly retired fighter pilots so this was pretty easy for them.  They did crossunders where the second plane moves from one side of the lead plane to the other and lots of turns, pitchouts (where they separate) and rejoins (where they come back into a tight formation).  After Pulse 2 did all of the maneuvers as the second plane, they took the lead and Pulse 1 completed the same maneuvers as the second plane.

While they were off in the practice area we entertained ourselves at the airport.  The kids were given little cardboard gliders that they could assemble and we played some card games from Chick-fil-A kids meals.  Of course we could also watch other planes...

This one gives you an idea of how close we were to the ramp and taxiway 

 Nice amount of wind for flag photos

 Another acrobatic flight takes to the air.  They were close enough that we got to see a few things.  They apparently do all kinds of rolls and loops.  The SR-22 has a parachute built into the airplane but for this plane each person wears their own chute.

Pulse flight returning to the airport.  They are about 1000 feet of the ground with 155 knots of airspeed at this point on initial approach for a military overhead landing.  If you've lived near a military airfield you've probably seen this kind of landing, but it is not commonly used by civilian pilots and it can cause some confusion when others are using the more typical rectangular pattern.

 There was someone in the rectangular pattern and Pulse Flight could not maintain adequate spacing on landing so they had to go around for a second approach.

 It did give me a chance for a few more pictures of the formation.  Pulse 2 was now in the lead for the landing.

 Pulse 2 just after pitchout into a 45 degree bank angle turn.  Pulse 1 would follow 10 seconds later to give 2000 feet of horizontal spacing.  The initial level 180 degree turn at idle power lets them drop a lot of airspeed while staying 1000 feet above the ground. Then they do another 45 degree bank angle descending 180 degree turn and land shortly after rolling out level on line with the runway.

 Pulse 2, back on the ground

 I love this one showing the farm next to the airport

 Pulse Flight taxing back the fuel pit

 Happy kids waving at Daddy during taxi.  He didn't wave back because at this point he was actually doing something (using the brakes to steer on the taxiway).

As part of the formation flight they had to maintain formation discipline all the way back into the building.  They pulled in to the fuel pit at the same time, stopped at the same time, turned off their engines at the same time and turned off their strobe lights at the same time.

 You can see one of other planes landing in the background as Pulse Flight prepares to turn into the fuel pits.

 Philip and Stan getting out of the plane

Putting his ABU jacket back's been too hot to fly in a flight suit with those long sleeves. 

 This cool plane came in to land while we were waiting for Philip to come see us

Moriah asked if we could get a picture with Daddy and the IPs were happy to oblige! 

Close up of the cool open air cockpit plane

We had a great day and lots of fun.  Moriah even said it was more fun that the ballet class with Reagan!   If you'd been hearing how much she has talked about that ballet class you would know this is indeed very high praise.  Thank you MacAir for a great visit to Greene County.


Mark and Rebekah said...

Wow! Such a cool day! Definitely a day your kids will remember for years!!!

Mom W. said...

I assume Philip filled in all that data!! =) I hope somebody understood it!! Impressive plane maneuvers!!

Mom E said...

HaHa, Mom W. I was thinking the same thing as I read this about the data. Very impressive and wow were their wings close to each other at one point. I know just reading this, I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the photos of Pulse 2 safely back on the ground! Great photo shoot, Joia. I love that Moriah thought it was more cool than ballet. :)