As a member of the Cascade Warbirds, I've had the pleasure of enjoying the camaraderie and flying exploits of the diverse and very experienced members of the group. I was already able to enjoy some formation flying with Alan Anders in his T-6 at Bellingham in April 2011. Through Cascade Warbirds members, I was involved in preliminary discussions with the family of George and Wendy Hewitt to acquire their beautiful Navion, which was eventually purchased by Cascade Warbirds member Roger Collins, and is now based in the Great Northwest.
Dave Desmon, the Cascade Warbirds Ops Officer, is a Navion owner who was very involved in trying to bring the Hewitt's Navion to a home in the Northwest. Dave has often offered to fly me in his Navion, but our schedules previously hadn't been able to line up.
As the Northwest flying season was peaking in August and September, Dave invited me to come along on a couple of planned formation flying sessions with the Cascade Warbirds in his Navion, in conjunction with the Vintage Aircraft Weekend at Paine Field in Everett and the Blackberry Festival in Bremerton. I gladly accepted the offer to 'critique the formation flying', even though stick time in the Navion would have to wait for a different opportunity. The early September weekend weather for flying was perfect, with clear skies and temperatures in the low 70's. Arriving at John Session's Historic Flight Foundation adjoining taxiway Kilo-7 at Paine Field, I enjoyed checking out the large collection of vintage aircraft gathered for the fly-in.
Dave briefed the day's flying plans with his formation teammates - Bob Hill in his IAR-823, Ray Roussy in his Navion and Ron Morrell in his Nanchang CJ-6 - and we positioned the four aircraft on the taxiway in preparation for our formation launch. As we settled into our cockpits, a two-ship of P-51s cranked up and departed for fly-bys, and we enjoyed the sounds of the Merlin engines and the launch of these classic warbirds. We taxied onto the runway with Dave and me in his Navion in the lead, Bob in his IAR-823 in the #2 position, Ray in his Navion as #3, and Ron in his CJ-6 as #4. Dean Shaw flew in Bob Hill's IAR-823 right seat taking photos, while Al Sauer flew as photographer in Ron Morrell's backseat in the CJ-6.
After takeoff, we rejoined the four-ship for a pass over the Vintage Aircraft gathering, then cruised in route formation toward Bremerton. Dave made contact with another 4-ship performing flybys for the Bremerton Blackberry Festival, a Bonanza team nicknamed the 'Beech Boys' . Dave maneuvered our four-ship into trail with the Bonanzas, and we made two passes over the downtown Bremerton waterfront festival, one in finger-four, and one in diamond formation. We then proceeded to the Bremerton airport for a finger-four pass, then an echelon pass to a pitch up for landing at Bremerton. Nice formation work by all!
At Bremerton, we enjoyed the Blackberry fly-in activities, then Bob, Ray and Ron flew their birds for a memorial ash drop honoring Cascade Warbird member Vic Norris' father. Once we obtained our slot to return to the busy Paine Field area, we launched again as a four-ship, and flew a missing-man fly-by on departure from Bremerton, in memorial to Vic Norris' Dad. Nearing Paine Field, we orbited twice as T-6s beat up the pattern, and then flew two final passes, with a pitch out to landing to finish the day.
Dave, Bob, Ray and Ron - great formation flying, and thanks for the opportunity to experience it from the best seat in the house!