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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.