Its been a while…
So what has happened over the past few months? Well picking up from where we left off Rock had decided that he didn’t want to do the formation aerobatics scene any more, Skyhawk was still away in Japan and I was left with shrinking inspiration.
I was offered the chance to do abit of flying with The Virtual Tuskegee Airmen (VTA) lead by Double_D, It was a good reason to keep on with the flying and to continue to hone what I had started with Rock and Fadec. VTA had a flypast booked for the opening of the Virtual United Air Festival (VUAF) so without too much messing about we nailed down what we wanted to do and set about training for a 6 ship pass. Due to real life commitments we were not able to get a 6 ship for the day and dropped to a 4 ship.
In the weeks leading to the flyby we worked on the formation and the pass in question and at times it felt like I was clinging on the same way Britney Spears does to her fame! But as persistently as a dog on heat I continued and worked at it, bringing the position in closer and tighter, smoother and cleaner.
Now I’m not going to lie, it was hard work. Not only had I really had limited time with the Mustang in formation but it was a new lead as well. Now Rock and I had done abit of flying with the Mustang and I had some practise time with Fadec when he was flying in the Stang with the vision that I would try out for the Virtual Horsemen to fill the right wing position. When Rock quit this just didn’t happen so getting back into formation with these guys took abit of work. The routine was not challenging but it needed a bit of fine honing. As anyone who has flown in a team will tell you the hardest part of any of it is too get all the pilots in the air at the same time.
So the date of the flypast comes and goes, it doesn’t go too bad, not as smooth as I would like but ce la vie. After the Flying Legends airshow at Duxford Rock decided that he wanted to get back into flying and we went up for a few flights, throwing the aircraft around like god knows what over Krasnadar Centre. If any ATC was watching the radar over those few flights he would have been seriously pissed with how erratic our flying was those few days!
I dont know if it was the flying we were doing or being around the aircraft at Duxford but Rock was back in the groove and now so was I!
Now flying in formation can be challenging at the best of times, judging amount of pull, roll, yaw and all of the above at the same time, but trying to keep up with the Rock when he is in the groove in a Mustang is something else altogether. Its like trying to superglue a rubber ball to a wall, no matter how hard you try he always slips away. Or so it seemed….
After one of our flights where Ifelt like I had really been put through the ringer Rob announces that will do as a trial flight.
I nearly laid an egg.
Who? What? Why? and most importantly – Huh?
Although he reliably informs me that it didnt start out that way i look back at it now and kind of think maybe I was being pulled along but hey ho! We had spoken loosely over the preceeding week that should he want to get into flying seriously again that a change around would be needed to keep things fresh. Sky was ok with taking over as lead and I had suggested that Rock fly left wing, being a right wing pilot he needed a fresh challenge and the best thing for that is something he has hardly done before. Rock had obviously thought this was a good idea and having already given a few trial flights to other contenders he sprung this one upon me!
So a few days goes past and Rock asks that we go up again and this time it was going to be more of a test then before, All that was going through my mind at this point was that I didnt think that was even possible, so we go up again on the VA server. After aligning, getting trimmed and quite comfortable in the plane Rock positions us for the entry into one of the older Horsemen routines, at least I knew what I was doing this time!
The routine is alot of work with some serious wingovers and the ever dreading cuban eight. For those of you who havent flown a Cuban Eight it is one of the hardest things to do in formation. I’d love to be able to say that I stuck with everything perfectly but that wouldnt be any fun now would it! I was clinging on like my life depended on it. All I can hear over the comms aside from the instructional commands is insane amounts of laughter followed by the occasional “boing…” (Thanks for that Rock…) Flowing from one test to another, with Rock cautiously looking over his right shoulder to check my spacing we continued through the routine. With my pulse increasing and the blood pressure steadily climbing we keptpushing further and further through a 110Deg left wingover. As we pass over that I can feel the aircraft slipping, I glance at the speedo and see a measly 130mph, almost at the point where I cant hold where I am we finally get the nose below the horizon and start to accelerate.
Displaying the mustang is all about speed management, master that management and you can do whatever you like in whatever order you like, fail with this technique and you will wing stall or spin or even worse.
Well after the flight finshed we broke for landing and Rock being as forthright as he always is refused to give me any indication of how he think it went, Only that he wanted to speak to Skyhawk…
That wait begins…
Follow me next time to find out how things unfolded.
P.s Due to an error in Wordprint I cant attach piccies properly yet, I will do a gallery when its fixed 🙂