May 16

Today we made our first flight as part of the D-Day Squadron. Our displays in Europe require formation qualifications (the so-called FAST card). While all of our crews are formation qualified, some prefer a single-ship streaming arrangement, at least until all of us become more familiar with the others’ flying habits and skills.

If a Spitfire flies like a sparrow, a C-47 flies like a Canada goose. Changes in direction or altitude take time and require anticipation. The standard of excellence in a C-47 formation is to visually place the prop spinner on the nose of the plane you are following and fly as close as the elevator of the same plane. This provides one wingspan (95’) of separation. To become proficient as a unit, we traveled north of Oxford to execute a series of break-ups and rejoins. Break-ups require an overhead break as if to land, then a rejoin on the upwind. The normal cross-country and “parade” formation is the “V” or “Victory” formation with transition to a three-abreast echelon formation for the overhead breaks. The first practice went very well, ending with a streaming landing.

Also, today we had the pleasure of wearing our “Gumbi” survival suits, jumping in a lake, and lifting ourselves into a raft. Some were graceful. We will wear the survival suits while airborne between Goose Bay and Prestwick.

We pleased many locals and event volunteers with tours and scenic rides. Tradewinds Aviation, a company owned by a member of the Squadron, hired trailered pizza ovens for families and friends to share the evening meal at our briefing hangar. The crews have bonded. Marginal weather conditions gave way to sunshine for the pizza party. A good sign after a long day.

John Sessions