mike_elliott

Formation Flying Demo at the Mooney Summit

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mike_elliott    1,790
On 8/15/2017 at 3:02 PM, N9201A said:

Misquoted me again.  "The Mooney Caravan" is not some monolith, nor is it some traveling band of "clinic-putter-onners." We are a collection of volunteers who works very hard in our regions.

If YOU, or ANYONE, wants a clinic in your region, STEP UP! I gave you a couple of examples of people who had done that.  

If there is not even enough interest for one guy to say "I will organize/promote/administer/collect lunch$," then that says it, doesn't it?   

There has been interest , and more than one guy willing to "step up", Larry. Hurdles have been getting the number of Mooney Caravan approved safety pilots needed to fill the demand for the slots that will happen. Bucko was working on the possibility and stepping up, and perhaps Lee Fox will going forward. Both of these gents are of caliber and quality recognized. They both have to work within the Mooney Caravan system/structure/plan of work, however, where some issues have been presented as I understand it.

 But if, as you say, is is a simple matter of "stepping up" , then so be, I am sure it will happen. We have a number of qualified and competent people who attend the Summit who would love to see it happen and be a part of it happening. We have a number of people interested who can "pave the way" with airspace, logistics, politics, space and facilities. We have a number of highly trained professional formation pilots available who would be willing to assist, albeit their performance profile might be a bit more aggressive, in any way they can. 

This year's Mooney Summit formation flight demo will go a long way, in generating interest, public perception, and planning for Mooney Caravan approved training, albeit not able to count as currency because it would happen prior to Jan 1 for the following years Caravan as required by the Mooney Caravan.

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KSMooniac    1,275

As mentioned by Larry and others, it is addictive! The Flying Monkeys are flying this Saturday to a local EAA fly-in/breakfast, and then departing to fly over a small town parade. We've got 8-9 planes planned, and I've invited another Mooney owner to ride along and see what it is all about.

I hope a FL/SE group can spin up in the near future and spread the joy!

Sent from my LG-US996 using Tapatalk

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N9201A    179

I would add that, very much to my surprise, my bride of 53 years who got me started as a pilot over 48 years ago, turns out to be a fan of, and willing participant in, formation flying! Who'd have thunk! 


Bob, that is AWESOME!! Have fun!
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N9201A    179
There has been interest , and more than one guy willing to "step up", Larry. Hurdles have been getting the number of Mooney Caravan approved safety pilots needed to fill the demand for the slots that will happen. Bucko was working on the possibility and stepping up, and perhaps Lee Fox will going forward. Both of these gents are of caliber and quality recognized. They both have to work within the Mooney Caravan system/structure/plan of work, however, where some issues have been presented as I understand it.
 But if, as you say, is is a simple matter of "stepping up" , then so be, I am sure it will happen. We have a number of qualified and competent people who attend the Summit who would love to see it happen and be a part of it happening. We have a number of people interested who can "pave the way" with airspace, logistics, politics, space and facilities. We have a number of highly trained professional formation pilots available who would be willing to assist, albeit their performance profile might be a bit more aggressive, in any way they can. 
This year's Mooney Summit formation flight demo will go a long way, in generating interest, public perception, and planning for Mooney Caravan approved training, albeit not able to count as currency because it would happen prior to Jan 1 for the following years Caravan as required by the Mooney Caravan.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for your enthusiasm.

I don't know what "issues have been presented." Bucko is a Caravan board member, Squadron Lead, and on our Ops Committee as a FAST carded Lead. He's also "Exhibit A" evidence of a person who stepped up and made it happen in a region. So, if he wants to make a clinic happen in FL, he is the right guy and knows how. We speak often and work on Caravan business together, and he's mentioned nothing to me about any "issue." If he needs Caravan organizational help, he will have it, and I am sure I will be one of his first calls. He already has Lee, who's our Safety officer and has the written materials (he drove a significant revision of our Guide this spring) and I am sure other qualified safeties will step up, as the regional commitments and their time permit. We are a dedicated group, and selfish--more form pilots mean more people for us to fly with!

Of COURSE we work within a common format and structure. That's what makes this work--it's all about the discipline. A newbie will be flying feet away from another aircraft. Newbie pilots have to show up having read and watched everything. They have to be doing ONLY form flying that weekend, and have no distractions. And it needs to be in an environment where there is adequate ground support, airspace, runways and tower help to support the activities.

I mentioned safeties are ALWAYS the limiting factor. But guess what? When you've got guys doing it for a few years and few hundred form flights, you'll DEVELOP them. And be patient, because the difference between doing simple two-ship Caravan flight stuff (and that is what it is, even though with three planes) and anything beyond that is much more complex than it seems. Many of us ... this pilot included ... have learned that the hard way!

Your Jan 1 fixation is misplaced. Read my post re element lead discretion. I am more conservative than Caravan policy: If you're in my element and we haven't flown together, we are flying together at KMSN or you're not in my element. Many element leads fly to KMSN with their wings, or find time to go up before OSH, which is becoming easier as we grow and pilots can find each other locally.

Practically speaking, no one goes to a clinic in the fall and does not fly form again until the Caravan...look at the other posts here. Once someone is safe to practice basic stationkeeping, all they need to do it is another form pilot! So we do it OFTEN! Why? It's FUN!!

Many of our Caravaners fly to KMSN in formation. Since 2011, I've flown from CA to KMSN and only once (when I flew Lead) did I have to worry about weather, navigate, or talk to ATC - because I was flying wing. And each flight was SAFER than had I been alone. We've had aircraft develop mechanicals (I did once too) and having teammates reduced stress and increased safety. THIS is also part of the camaraderie, and why we do it.

I'm glad to hear you have a "tent pole" volunteer to stand up and take on administration. It should be a local person because there will be a lot of admin coordinating and the goal is to identify and have interested local pilots show up and leave being able to practice together locally. Then they will build a local form group.

One caveat from a guy who's done a bunch of these: LOTS of people SAY they're interested. The proportion that actually show up is directly related to the commitment required BEFORE showing up. So when you say "there's interest" that's great, but form flying isn't for everyone. So keep in mind it's not like a Young Eagles day. Participants have to really prepare and show up ready to work.

So if someone just wants to see what it's like, go to a clinic as a passenger. Or just hitch a ride at a practice session, or ask any local form pilot to ride in the right seat. It's not for everyone, just like aerobatics or IMC isn't. So try a ride first to determine if the "interest" is strong enough to warrant a clinic.

Hope this is helpful, look forward to hearing from Bucko and Lee about it.

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carusoam    4,005

An outside view... (see if I got this right...)

There are so many requirements to becoming a formation pilot...

 

Eligibility:

There has to be a dozen or so (non-fluff) pre-requisites before one is eligible to get trained... (plane, flight training, experience)

 

Personal hurdles:

Once the pre-requisite hurdles are clear, a few random hurdles get thrown on... (schedule, weather, maintenance, health issues, BFR)

 

System hurdles:

Another set of hurdles becomes visible to an outsider... (formation specific training, safety pilots, availability issues)

 

Overall:

  • One part drive
  • One part luck 
  • One part stamina 
  • One part funding
  • One part scheduling
  • One part location around the country
  • Great for leaders to refine their skill sets.
  • Great for followers to develop their skills.

 

I'm always impressed when an MSer comes back from their first Formation Training.

Flying is inherently dangerous. Getting trained to this level and being part of this community, mitigates many of the dangers pilots are going to be presented with...

 

Follow-up questions:

On average, how many Mooney pilots get all these ducks lined up each year?  

Does the system have room for more? (Lots of limitations from limited safety pilots, events, to formation experience)

Does the system have limitations? (Is possible to have too many good formators?)

 

Too many questions?  :)

 

One of these days, I'm hoping to have my ducks in a row...

Best regards,

-a-

 

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KSMooniac    1,275

FWIW, B2OSH had 116 planes this year, so I'd say we have a lot more headroom to grow now that we've adopted "real" formation and standardized procedures that should be relatively straight-forward to extrapolate to a larger group in the Caravan. That is contingent on growing enough element Leads, and of course getting more pilots trained at clinics. I don't think we can have too many. If for whatever reason the Caravan caps registration, I wouldn't be too upset because the clinics and learning/practicing a new skill and meeting others is still enormously fun and rewarding, even if not carried all the way thru OSH in any given year.

I'll say this OSH was my favorite of the 5-6 I've attended, due in no small part to a successful caravan experience. I'm looking forward to more.

Sent from my LG-US996 using Tapatalk

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N9201A    179
4 hours ago, KSMooniac said:

FWIW, B2OSH had 116 planes this year, so I'd say we have a lot more headroom to grow now that we've adopted "real" formation and standardized procedures that should be relatively straight-forward to extrapolate to a larger group in the Caravan. That is contingent on growing enough element Leads, and of course getting more pilots trained at clinics. I don't think we can have too many. If for whatever reason the Caravan caps registration, I wouldn't be too upset because the clinics and learning/practicing a new skill and meeting others is still enormously fun and rewarding, even if not carried all the way thru OSH in any given year.

I'll say this OSH was my favorite of the 5-6 I've attended, due in no small part to a successful caravan experience. I'm looking forward to more.
 

Ultimately, one begins to run out of things like ramp space, hotel rooms and runway (gotta all fit at once!) but you are 100% correct, practically speaking, element leads are the limiting item.  B2Osh is committed to the three-ship as one needs only one lead per three aircraft.  Because this can lead to some potential scrambling when we lose a runway (like in 2016), this can create lead shortages if we need to move to two-ship elements (again, like 2016).  This year we were JUST OK, we had EXACTLY 25 Lead-capable plus Tail for 51 AC.  I also agree that if we were 100% element lead-capable, that would be truly amazing...and I would especially love it because, as a fundamentally lazy person, I could just fly wing!!

Everyone who worked on Caravan XX appreciates that you had a good experience.  For me, the last one is always the best...but next year's will be better!  

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N9201A    179
5 hours ago, carusoam said:

An outside view... (see if I got this right...)

There are so many requirements to becoming a formation pilot...

 

Eligibility:

There has to be a dozen or so (non-fluff) pre-requisites before one is eligible to get trained... (plane, flight training, experience)

 

Personal hurdles:

Once the pre-requisite hurdles are clear, a few random hurdles get thrown on... (schedule, weather, maintenance, health issues, BFR)

 

System hurdles:

Another set of hurdles becomes visible to an outsider... (formation specific training, safety pilots, availability issues)

 

Overall:

  • One part drive
  • One part luck 
  • One part stamina 
  • One part funding
  • One part scheduling
  • One part location around the country
  • Great for leaders to refine their skill sets.
  • Great for followers to develop their skills.

 

I'm always impressed when an MSer comes back from their first Formation Training.

Flying is inherently dangerous. Getting trained to this level and being part of this community, mitigates many of the dangers pilots are going to be presented with...

 

Follow-up questions:

On average, how many Mooney pilots get all these ducks lined up each year?  

Does the system have room for more? (Lots of limitations from limited safety pilots, events, to formation experience)

Does the system have limitations? (Is possible to have too many good formators?)

 

Too many questions?  :)

 

One of these days, I'm hoping to have my ducks in a row...

Best regards,

-a-

 

I was hoping you'd join us this year as well!  

Numbers - This year we had 56 qualified registrants.  This means they demonstrated proficiency recently and paid their registration.  We lose some folks every year due to mechanicals, real life or weather, and that remained true this year.  There were also numerous qualified "regulars" (I would estimate 8-12) that opted out this year for health, family or work conflicts.  We have had double-digit growth year over year, and almost doubled in size since the first all-form group (2012).  Next year I am sure we will have more as well.

So many requirements?  Not at all, at least once you meet the ones you need to meet anyway just to take off: Medical (easier with Basic Med), aircraft, BFR/currency, weather...but those apply to ANY flight.  

Yes, you DO need to get to a clinic.  But we manage to get people up who are "geographically challenged."  Your region is now rich with formation talent!   PM me and I will put you in touch with a regional leader (NJ, right?) who can help get you set up.  

As far as experience, don't be deterred.  While we have some military pilots, most of us are GA-only.  But we have had 100-200 hour private pilots show up and be safe to execute two-ship basic Caravan maneuvers after 2-3 flights.  Then they can get out and practice ... all you need to formate is another like-minded pilot!   So no, there can NEVER be enough formators in my book.  No one who masters basic skills becomes a worse pilot or a less safe one.  Once you do, you will also learn your aircraft more.  And you will have more free time for flying because you will no longer argue on MS about all our Mooney "old wives' tales" (can't land/takeoff no flaps, can't fly final at 90, have to go to 2500 in climb blah blah blah) because you'll have debunked them yourself.  

See you in 2018?

 

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Dave Piehler    27
11 hours ago, bluehighwayflyer said:

I'm not much of a "joiner", and flying is more of an internal than external thing for me, but I have always been fascinated by formation flying and have enjoyed watching and have great respect for what you guys are doing.

Jim

 

Jim, you illustrate the point of the caravan being  “a progressive autonomous collective”.  One characteristic that seems to occur frequently in Mooney owners is a strong independent streak.  All we need to agree on is the common goal of formation flight.  the rest is adiaphora.

Come to the dark side -- give it a try!  It's contagious.

Dave Piehler

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bluehighwayflyer    1,760

Ha!  That is a keen observation, Dave, and you make a pretty compelling argument.  If someone 'steps up" and organizes a clinic in the SE, I will make every effort to attend. 

Jim

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