Emilie Phillips updated October 8, 2019
Brookline NH held a big parade for their 250th anniversary. The town asked the airport pilots to join the parade with a fly over. It is an excuse for all of us on the airport plus some friends to do something together. Mike was going to tow a giant banner. Ed and Chris wanted to take aerial photos. Tyson was supposed to work on the Bearhawk, so I joined in my RV4 to represent our family.
From what I heard of previous fly overs, I gathered that the formation got progressively less organized the farther back in the line you went. Every time a pilot adjusts speed, the pilot behind has to compensate. Then the pilot behind that reacts, amplifying the disturbance. Until by the end of the line you have a game of crack the whip.
I picked the third spot.
Meanwhile, Karen, who had brought her Legend Cub from Crow Island, decided it would be more fun to put a smile on Tyson’s face by letting him fly her Cub, than to be the slowest airplane at the tail. Tyson had previously flown Karen’s Cub when she introduced him to ski flying. He jumped at this chance to fly it again.
I regularly fly formation with Tyson and with some of the other Super Cub/RAF folks, so I expected I would have no issue flying third. I had a high wing Cessna in front of me. I had a heck of a time maintaining a consistent distance from them horizontally or vertically. My speed varied by 10+ knots. And half the time I had to drop a wing left or right to see them because I was flying so slow that my nose blocked forward sight.
Tyson, even though he was at the back, was having a better time. He kept making jokes on the radio about how the rest of us had better throttle back so he could catch up. He was full throttle yet had to cut every corner in our square route. We flew over the parade twice and then pulled off. Tyson landed the Cub at a few nearby strips and then later took Isaac for a ride all the way to Jaffrey.
I broke off from the parade and led a contingent west to take aerial photos. Chris and Ed had partnered to take photos for their portfolio at Low and Slow Aerial Photography. Chris flew their Cherokee Six and Ed sat in the back with a long zoom lens. Even with a long lens, you get the best photos of another airplane if you fly close. I decided to redeem my formation flying skills and set up a good picture for Ed. Chris flew nice and steady, so I got quite close. Ed got the pictures he wanted — good ones with the RV filling the frame.
“That’s enough,” Ed radioed as he put his camera down. “Yikes!” He suddenly realized it wasn’t the zoom lens that made me look close. “If you get any closer, you’d be in here with me.”
Satisfied with my formation flying, I returned to the airport and let Ed photograph the other Brookline planes.