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Caravan 2019. By Linda "Slim" Torrens

posted Aug 20, 2019, 5:04 AM by Ashley and Maria Neboschick   [ updated Aug 20, 2019, 5:05 AM ]
The Recap.
As you all recall, we sat through the 2019 post-formation flight debrief and heard much praise for this year’s Caravan to Osh flight.  And in my four years, it was certainly the best and least stressful of any of the Oshkosh formation flights.  Certainly, very impressive for a group of 62 aircraft.

Last Year.  What I mainly recall about last year – 2018 – was the decisive crosswind on takeoff out of MSN.  Leads had been taught to visually follow preceding elements.  The crosswind, which made aircraft crab into the wind immediately after takeoff, resulted in elements lifting off and flying left of the runway to get visually behind the preceding elements.  For the first few elements it was only a small correction off runway heading, but by the time we got to India element (my element), it appeared that the preceding aircraft were flying towards the tower immediately after liftoff in order to get behind their preceding element, and I can only imagine what it looked like from M-element’s perspective or from R-element’s view. That didn’t happen this year. This year, we were told (repeatedly!) to fly the magenta line and that seemed to work.  Of course, there was no major crosswind on takeoff, but for the most part, flying the line worked like a charm.

Decision Making.  Of my four years with the Caravan, all four have coincidentally ended up with an extra night in Madison.  What is it about July weekend weather in Wisconsin?  This year was different however, because rather than being on the hook all day long hanging around on a humid and should-be-condemned South Ramp, the call was made early to delay.  Perhaps the conditions made it more obvious this year that weather would not cooperate, but the early decision sure made for a more relaxing “extra” day in Madison…and it matters not whether we as a group are pre-positioned a day early at Oshkosh or are spending an extra night in Madison. It’s all part of the Caravan experience.
Much of the rest of the flight went exactly as planned. Engine start and taxi were inordinately long as we waited for taxi clearance, and we made minor errors, wake turbulence was encountered, possible spurious radio calls were made, but overall, it was another great arrival for the Mooney Caravan. Thank you to each aircraft commander and passenger who made the entire experience highly enjoyable.

The Future. Thus, now begins the long formation training season. Several clinics and planned get-togethers will soon be posted on the Caravan Google Group and on the Caravan website.  Attend additional clinics if you can; flying formation once or twice a year might be enough to keep you safe enough for the flight to Osh, but your skills probably won’t improve. Stay in the books – read the Caravan formation guide (don’t forget to cover the ‘Abnormals’ section), watch formation videos on YouTube, refresh your knowledge of formation procedures, and practice. If you decide to practice on your own, please practice the fundamentals you have learned at clinics.  
For those that want to go to the next higher level, several clinics include Advanced Maneuvers Training (advertised in the Mooney Google Group).  While you can and should read about these maneuvers in the Mooney Formation Guide on the Caravan website, our document mostly mirrors what is required in other professional formation organizations (FFI and FAST). On this page, http://www.ffi.aero/documents.htm#type, you can see the Mooney Formation Supplement as well as poke around in the FFI formation documents.  It’s all good knowledge and the more you know (even if you aren’t going to an Advanced Clinic), well, the smarter you get.

Fly Safe and Best Regards,
Slim

Gotta Love those Oshkosh Departures!
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