Well its been manic since my last post, There has been so much going on that it almost feels like im getting old(er)!
So where we last left it Rob was talking to Skyhawk about if I was to be accepted into The Virtual Horsemen, well as many of you that are reading this know I was successful!
So what next? Well we needed to have a few familiarisation flights, mainly to see where we were at with formation flying together, I had little to no flying time with Skyhawk at this point so I had to get used to flying with him and he has to get used to having me on his wing. The trust between lead and wingmen takes time to mature so we both went into this knowing it was going to be a work in progress.
Over the next few days Sky and I went up for a few flights, having spent almost all of my time flying with Rock its a new experience for any pilot when they have to follow a new lead and they way that they roll and pull is always different. Being the first time Sky has lead the Horsemen and the first time I have flown with him meant that for the first couple of flights at leas there was alot of swearing and alot of getting very frustrated about being out of position, to be honest with you it was like a drunk night out with the lads!
After about a week of falling over like drunk toddlers we gradually manage to bring the formation work together, its going to take a fair amount of time to string a routine together where I am solid in formation at all times. People who have read this blog from the start will remember what it was like when I first started formation flying, this was a mile from then. Things that seemed impossible to me then were now run of the mill and things that I would have been delighted with then are now driving me mad that I cant iron out wrinkles.
One of the biggest problems that I have come across is bouncing on the bottom of rolls, loops etc Its all aabout timing and knowing the lead pilot very well. Each and everytime I had done it with Rob all I could hear was “boing”, “Pogo sticks away!” or some other crack, sigh.
Having done this a few months now I believe that the more tense you are when you fly the more mistakes you will make, which then makes you more tense and frustrated leading to more mistakes. You have to be relaxed at this to be in any frame of mind to make progress.Now that is far easier then it sounds when you bounce on the exit of what otherwise is a great roll. Its also a golden rule that the lead pilot will not see anything that you do that is actually in formation and position, they wil only look round when you are making a right balls up of it!!
So Rock and I went with Red 12 – Ells to Duxford for the September airshow to go and show off our hobby for the public, we got to see an amazing close up of the warbirds and have a clamber around some of them as well! We were fortunate enough to get to sit in Spitfires, Bearcats and yes another Mustang, A TF51-D this time by the name of Miss Velma!
While we were there Rock and I did a small display which went down well with the 40 or so people who were crowded around us, alot of them didnt believe we were doing it together until Ells starting giving a running commentary for us! Thank you Chris!
Once back from Duxford we had to set about training again and with either Sky and I as a two ship or with Rock on left wing as a 3 ship training continues, more bouncing, more rolls, more swearing…
Anybody that sits in comms with Rock and I while we are flying is normally quite surprised, while doing what we consider the normal warm up sort of things like the high speed, rolls, wing overs etc we are actually surprisingly casual on comms. For some reason people think that we fly in silence yet most of the time we are talking about anything and everything! Aside from the calls to start or progress whatever we are doing its actually quite relaxed, I totally believe that this kind of atmosphere is key for anything like this, Keep it relaxed and just let things flow.
Now we are in the build up to VFAT 2013, We are the Horsemen have made the decision that there is to be no show at VFAT for us this year. We will be back in 2014 with a threeship display and a duo as well. 2014 is shaping up to be a very busy year for us with the chance to see our displays streamed live over the internet or see us fly them in person at Duxford during an airshow there!
Until Next time everyone!