As the 4th of July approached, my fellow warbird pilot JF Vallee contacted me about an opportunity to honor some local Veterans and celebrate the 4th in style. JF had been working with some local town members in Sedro-Woolley, WA, who were interested in sponsoring a flyby of the town during the 4th of July. JF had done a flyby the previous year, but his wingman from the past were mostly unavailable. JF reached out to me and a few of the local warbird owners and pilots, and was able to assemble a 5-ship for the event, designating us the ‘Wolfpack’. Justin had graciously offered his Nanchang CJ-6 to the mix, and wanted me to fly from the front seat for re-currency, while he joined in the backseat. Twist my arm.
Our July weather had started similar to most of June, with a cool, on-shore breeze bringing in low clouds on many mornings. Three of the five warbirds were based at Paine Field in Everett, and after pre-flighting our birds, we had to wait for over an hour for the IFR conditions to change and the low clouds to open up. I launched single ship in the ‘Chang once marginal VFR opened up a hole to the north, and Justin and I cruised quickly along the Puget Sound shoreline to initial and a pitch out and smooth landing on runway 29 at Skagit (KBVS).
After parking on the Heritage Flight Museum ramp, Justin and I walked to JF’s hangar, where we joined the other pilots for the flight briefing. In addition, we met Korean War veteran Don Collen, who had helped coordinate our flyover with the Sedro-Woolley mayor and others. After a detailed briefing by JF, we started and the ‘Wolfpack’ taxied as a 5-ship, with JF leading in his bright yellow Navion, Justin with me in the #2 position, Dave ‘Guso’ Osgood as #3 in his silver Navion, Tanner Matheny as #4 in his blue Navion, and Bob Hill flying #5 in his IAR-823. We took off from runway 22, quickly joined up in a 5-ship vic formation, and cruised under bouncy cumulus directly to Sedro-Woolley.
We were able to complete six separate passes over every portion of the small town of Sedro-Woolley, giving the locals a grand 4th of July set of flybys, and held decent formation even in the bouncy conditions and our relative ‘rustiness’. After the sixth pass, we reconfigured to echelon, cruised to initial at 500’ over Skagit’s runway 29, then pitched out to landing, looking good on the taxi back with 5 sharp-looking warbirds. At the debrief, Don Cullen called to say how much he, the mayor and others had appreciated the flybys. Well done, Wolfpack!
Our sixth potential flier, Chad Hawthorne, had to drive to Skagit due to low clouds at his airport, but flew with Guso in the #3 slot to create an outstanding video of the event.