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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.

  

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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh


Volume 9, Number 3 July 29, 2008     

If it flies like a fighter, fly it like a fighter
By Randy Dufault

Hands down the single most popular homebuilt line in the community, the Van’s Aircraft family of RVs account for nearly 20 percent of the 30,000 homebuilt aircraft flying today in the U.S. — and hundreds of those RVs park together in their own area at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008. Photo by Phil Weston

Sunday afternoon, Stu McCurdy and 19 other qualified formation pilots, arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 in a beautiful tight formation of Van’s RV aircraft. The pilots, about half of whom are ex-military, all enjoy the art of formation flying and EAA AirVenture gives them a unique, once a year, opportunity to participate in large formations of airplanes.

As Van’s designs have proliferated, small teams of RV owners all around the country have formed up — so to speak — to practice formation flying. While some simply do it for the challenge, smaller formations of RVs are now a common sight at air shows around the country.

McCurdy, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who retired after a 30-year career, organized this year’s RV gathering and arrival. The group congregated at Whiteside County Airport in Sterling/Rockfalls, Illinois, last Friday for an advanced formation clinic and to practice both for Sunday’s arrival in Oshkosh and for the group’s two appearances during EAA AirVenture.

Virtually all of the pilots belong to a regional formation flying group. Represented this year were McCurdy’s Falcon Flight from Texas, Team RV from Georgia, Palmetto Flight from the Carolinas, the River Rats from Ohio, the Hawks from Northern Illinois, SoCal Flight from California and Northwest Flight from Oregon.

Each and every pilot in the formation holds a qualification card from Formation Flying Incorporated (FFI). In order for a formation of airplanes to fly in waivered airspace, like the airspace above any air show and including the airspace above EAA AirVenture, the FAA requires each pilot to hold a formation qualification credential. McCurdy formed FFI as a way to provide formation training and issue those necessary credentials.

Last year, in celebration of the 35th anniversary of Van’s participation in EAA AirVenture, 35 RVs got together for a formation flyover. However, a Letter of Authorization (LOA), filed with the FAA and with EAA, is necessary to conduct a mass arrival and they were not able to make their initial appearance as a group. All the paperwork was taken care of this year and the arrival was scheduled for Sunday.

After making a scenic pass over Runway 18/36 with their smoke on, the formation broke into four ship elements for landing. The landing went off without a hitch, other than two ships that reported having a bit of trouble with the exceptionally gusty crosswinds.

Tuesday and Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. the RV formation will conduct a 30-minute formation flying show. The show, which the group rehearsed during their time at Whiteside County Airport, includes a number of formation maneuvers, maneuvers that are dramatic with a small number of airplanes, but even more so when performed with a large group.

Formation clinics for RV pilots looking to become FFI credentialed are held around the country. Information on FFI and the clinics can be found at www.vansairforce.com.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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