AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 90

P&E 

FORMATION FLYING

Time over target
Formation flyover secrets
B Y D AV E H I R S C H M A N

VAN'S AIRCRAFT RVS are the most numerous among the Bandits, but Yak 52s (such as the photo ship in this image) also partici-

pate-and their nine-cylinder radial engines enhance flyovers with their throaty sound. Onboard smoke systems are essential for all
participants.

90 | AOPA PILOT June 2021

notices-and we're disappointed. We
go to a lot of trouble to make sure we're
right on time, every time. "
Making that happen primarily
depends on three people: The formation flight leader, the Bandits' ground
coordinator, and the artist who performs the national anthem.
A Bandits flight typically consists of
six airplanes, mostly Van's Aircraft RVs,
and they loiter outside their target area
prior to the flyover to stay out of view.
The ground coordinator with a
powerful mobile radio base station
is stationed at the flyover location.

Handheld radios just aren't powerful
enough to communicate reliably with
aircraft at distances of 10 miles or more.
The ground coordinator keeps the flight
leader informed about any last-minute
schedule changes in the minutes leading up to the flyover.
The artist must know precisely how
long they will perform-and stick with it.
Most renditions of the national
anthem take about 90 seconds,
Kilpatrick said, but a few artists, like
the late Aretha Franklin, have been
known to sing twice that long. The key
for the ground coordinator is knowing

MARK HERBOTH

TIMING IS EVERYTHING-and that's especially true for formation flyovers. A few
seconds too soon, or too late, and the flyover misses the moment and loses its
chance to be an emotional highpoint for
a ceremony or large event.
" Very few spectators notice or care if
one of our airplanes is a foot or two out of
position, " said Jim Kilpatrick, a founder
of the Bandit Flight Team, a group of
general aviation pilots who perform
about 50 formation flyovers a year from
Sanford Raleigh Executive Jetport in
North Carolina. " But if we miss our time
by more than four seconds, everyone



AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
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