Formation Flying

I got in some more flight time last week, taking off from Richmond for a training flight to Edgewood, Md. and back. The trip up was in a Lima model Black Hawk (one of the latest models, with improved equipment), and we flew black in an Alpha model (the original, with older, weaker engines and computers). We had a chance to practice flying blind, with instruments only, on the way up and then got to work on formation flying along the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay on the return trip.


During a training flight to the Baltimore, MD area, SGT Ryan Reisetter, Black Hawk Crew Chief, keeps an eye on the sky at 5000 ft MSL helping the pilots steer clear of other aircraft and obstacles. (Bert Stover -- washingtonpost.com)
View Enlarged Photo

During the ride north, I was just a passenger. So, I was able to study up on formation flight and also get some of the first photos of our unit in action. The weather was pretty hazy, which limited our views of Washington and Baltimore in the distance as we passed them.

When we arrived in Edgewood, we filled out the paper trail for acquiring our Blackhawk Alpha. Then, when we did our preflight inspection of the aircraft, we noticed an unusual amount of hydraulic fluid on the deck. Sgts. Reisetter and PFC Curry, our crew chiefs, climbed up on the hydraulic deck to check it out. (Crew chiefs are enlisted personnel who handle maintenance and also lend a hand to the pilots during flights by warning us about obstacles). They recommended that one of the local technicians come out and look into the problem.

I was a bit nervous about the situation until the technician verified the system wasn't faulty. We continued with startup and began training for formation flight. We took the active runway behind the aircraft we rode in on the trip up. As the trail aircraft, we had to mimic the actions of the lead aircraft -- taking off at exactly the same time and staying about one rotor disc (approximately 54 feet) apart. I was constantly imagining the rotors of each aircraft touching and the catastrophe that would result.

I was at the controls when we took off. My attention was fully focused on the aircraft in front of me. For the next hour we flew at 1,000 feet MSL changing positions and maintaing the formation flight as close as possible. The only time I transferred the controls to my instructor pilot as when we flew over the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

By Bert Stover |  October 4, 2005; 5:38 AM ET  | Category:  Work
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Yup they jus ain't like the ol hueys, they was fun sometimes when we would lap discs a few feet just for the heck of it n scare the be jabbers out of the peter pilots

Posted by: Dutch | October 11, 2005 11:05 PM

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