Fire season is upon us. I took a 10 day respite between my winter job, and heading out for fire season. There were dozens of tasks to complete, some were
large, most were small, bordering on insignificant, however, they all had to be completed prior to leaving in the tanker. I did schedule some formation flying, some warbird flying, and just some relaxation time as well.
There is nothing quite the same as a smooth joinup in formation. The World War II warbirds seem especially majestic in this regard. Between the growl of the radial engines, and the antique canopies, with the accompanying rattling in their frames, watching the bearing lines develop….it’s a sensual pleasure. I’m fortunate to have friends that have experience flying in the military, so they have good formation skills. A skillful lead makes the “wingman experience” so much better.
The elderly SNJ (Navy version of the T-6) had a new paint job, and a new radio panel. When purchased 25 years ago, the prior owner advised me that it needed new paint. Sporting her new livery, she took a trip to the radio shop for the mandated installation of her new ADSB transponder. The most expensive words in aviation (“while we’re in there…”) took hold, and a new radio, and a new panel, and a new audio panel were installed.
A few minor tweaks were done, and the old girl looked….and flew….much better than her 77 years of age would imply. She happily looped and rolled. Approach control verified that her new transponder was accurate….and we convinced our neighbor to get out the T6 he flew.
Two T6s in formation, on takeoff, are a sight to behold. The noise of two Pratt and Whitney engines, props bordering on supersonic, within feet of each other is magnificent. Seeing the other Texan just inches away is breathtaking.
Reaching the practice area “breaks and rejoins” commenced. Lines of rejoin were pretty. The rhythm of the dance never grew old.
Planes were put away. Bags were packed. The tanker was loaded. Plans were made, goodbyes were said. Seven plus hours of formation were ahead…this time not with elderly warbirds, but with modern tankers.
Decades ago, the immortal Gordon Baxter wrote an article about a gentleman who “kept a B-25 for a pet”. He concluded by saying “some men while away their later years puttering with little white balls. Some live grandly”.
Between the warbirds, and the tankers….I don’t need little white balls.
I live grandly.