This week’s aeronautical adventure – teaching my good friend Tim Granshaw two of the most fun things you can do in an aeroplane – low-level aerobatics and formation. Tim works for the Boultbee Flight Academy and has a background in Chipmunk and Harvard flying. He hasn’t formated before, so to be able to help him along this journey has been a rare treat.

Tim and I met early at Henstridge airfield in Somerset, south-west England. Henstridge is the home of the Yakovlevs formation aerobatic team and owner Jez Hopkinson was kind enough to let us use two of his display aircraft – no pressure there then!

After a quick couple of familiarisation flights in the two-seat Yak 52 (engine handling, takeoffs and landings, and low level aerobatics) it was time to start the formation lessons. Flying alongside Dave Boardman in the single-seat Yak 50, we covered the basics of position keeping, joining and leaving formation, manoeuvring in formation and tailchasing. Tim picked it up really quickly and by the end of the day had shown real progress. After four high-intensity flights we were both pretty tired but lots were learned and Tim left raring to have another go.

Feeling queasy after inverted spinning!
Feeling queasy after inverted spinning!

On the second day we started with some 4 point rolls, slow rolls, inverted spinning (bleugh), gyroscopic manoeuvres and Tim practiced an aerobatic sequence to our legal minimum of 500 ft above ground level. The second and third flights focused on formation, working up to 70 degrees angle of bank, before splitting for an aerobatic tailchase and turning joins.

All in all, a great couple of days that will hopefully prepare Tim for most situations he could find himself in.

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