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Old 12-23-2014, 06:31 PM   #1
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Formation Flying in Heavies

Awesome! 5 Jumbo Jets Flying in Formation
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:01 PM   #2
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Big whoop. We did exactly the same thing years ago with the then-all-four models of the 737. We, or rather WolfeAir, shot footage exactly like this. Flying five airplanes on a good weather day in loose-ish formation is not exactly challenging for pilots trained in formation flight. All of our flight test pilots are.

Back in the heyday of C-17 production, the folks in SoCal did the same thing with four or five C-17s.

Shoot, for a film I was producing a number of years ago I had a B-17 (Sentimental Journey), a B-29 (Fifi) and a Twin Beech camera plane in much tighter formation than those A350s flying through the Cascade Moutains and weaving through the peaks. All that with one meeting, a look at a chart, and let's go do it.

Leave it to Airbus to make a big deal about something that isn't.

And speaking of Airbus, I saw a blurb on CNN the other week that Airbus is considering cancelling the A380 program because (a) they haven't sold one in a year, (b) customers are starting to cancel orders, and (c) the A380 is the first plane to get parked when passenger numbers on a flight drop because the only way to make money with the thing is if it's almost completely full. By comparison, airlines like Emirates claim they can make money with a 777 even when it's just 60 percent full.

Airbus is denying a possible cancellation, of course, because as soon as word leaked out Emirates, the largest A380 customer, started howling holy hell. But the reality is the plane is not proving to be the success it was hoped to be.

By all accounts I've heard, it's a nice plane to fly in. But if a program's considered a flop, a nice ride doesn't account for much.
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Old 12-23-2014, 11:58 PM   #3
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Someone in my local ultralight flying club posted that video in an email. Sorry Marin, I did enjoy it. Someone else sent around a video of a Dreamliner doing near aerobatic maneuvers. Now that is a pretty airplane.
How about posting that one here Marin? I'd like to watch it again.
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:26 AM   #4
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I don't have it and it wasn't authorized for use or posting other than to Boeing's NewAirplane.com website. But of course it's been snagged and is on YouTube. So you can find it if you look.

I was invited to a burgers and beer thank-you thing last Friday evening for a video series I produced for our flight deck sales team. A couple of people I worked with on the project who have retired were there. The subject of the 787 Farnborough flight came up, and the consensus was (a bunch of these guys were our pilots) that while the 787 flight is very pretty, the 757 can fly rings around it.

The 757 is acknowledged by everyone here who's flown one, or been in one on a test flight, to be the hottest transport plane Boeing has ever produced. I flew in it a lot when I was supporting the program in the early 80s shortly after I hired in. Got to know John Armstrong, the chief program pilot, and flew with him numerous times. On several occasions there were just four of us in the plane-- John, a right seat pilot, usually Rose, our first female flight test pilot, a test director, and me. Minimum fuel.

You think the 787 in the video took off at a steep angle? John would rip down BFI's runway and haul the 57 back into a near vertical climbout and then hold it until we went through 10,000 feet. The 757 is so overpowered (because of the twin engine rules) that the thing is like a rocket. John compared the 57's roll rate to the early generation jet fighters (which he'd flown in the military).

I never got to actually fly one, of course, although I did accumulate several hours in the full-motion simulator (with the motion turned on). Quite a ride.

Not to take anything away from the 787--- it's a fantastic plane from an airline perspective. But in terms of sheer performance the 787 is like a Mercedes sedan where the 757 is like a Shelby Cobra.

On Friday we got to talking about the 757's first flight. It flew out of Renton, of course, which has a 5,380 foot runway oriented more or less north-south. First flights (in fact I think all our flights) have to be made to the north out over Lake Washington. The morning of the first flight the wind was gusting from the south to 25 mph. By the time the first flight was supposed to happen, the wind was getting well up over 30 mph as I recall

All of us figured the flight would be cancelled for the day. So we were amazed when John and his right seat, Boeing Chief Pilot Lew Wallick, climbed in, fired up, and taxied out. As the wind seemed to actually increase, we went from being amazed to being downright scared. All of us were certain we were going to be filming a major accident.

John did a quick run down the runway to test the brakes, and then went back and lined up for the takeoff. I was shooting the takeoff from the lake end of the runway, and when you're looking through a film camera with your eye in the eyepiece, what you see becomes your whole world. So I didn't have a sense of perspective and distance.

John revved the 57 up and let the brakes go and the plane started toward us with a jerk. The wind was really blowing now, and as I watched the plane come toward me I was totally convinced it was going to run off the runway, hit the rip rap next to the lake and explode as it went into the water. Or, it was going to veer off and come right at me.

I had just about made up my mind to leave the camera and run when the plane rotated and climbed out. I opened my other eye to see where John had lifted off. He'd rotated barely halfway down the runway.

That's what kind of power a 757 has. A lot of airlines are putting pressure on us and Airbus to create a new 757-class airplane. Some airlines have even asked us to put the 757 back into production, which we couldn't do even if we wanted to which we don't. Airlines that have 757s are hanging onto them, and I recently read here that some are even increasing the size of their 757 fleets by buying them up as other airlines sell them off.

It's my favorite Boeing model, with the 777 being a close second.
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Old 12-24-2014, 07:06 AM   #5
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Sounds like a 757 NEO or MAX would fit the market,

and be tons cheaper (and quicker to build ) than a clean sheet new aircraft.

YEA , I know if you told us, you would have to kill us!
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:11 PM   #6
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The757's reputation as Marin described is pretty much universally shared by most airline pilots that have flown it. It however does not have the operating economy that it's main competitor the Airbus 321 has. In terms of flying preformance the A321 can't hold a candle to the 757.

I'm very surprised to hear of the A380's impending cancellation. The Europeans ponied up a ton of money to design and build it.
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Old 12-24-2014, 12:44 PM   #7
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YEA , I know if you told us, you would have to kill us!
What I can tell you is that we won't put the 757 back into production because we can't. The buildings and tooling we used to make it are long gone. The remaining facilities at the Renton Plant are entirely devoted to the 737 (the current production rate is 42 a month, the target is 60) and the Everett Plant is currently full with the 747-8, the 767 tanker, the 777 and the 787.
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Old 12-24-2014, 01:03 PM   #8
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The 757 is my favorite too. The 757 767 generation jets were the first I worked as field service engineer for Saft (we designed the charging/battery system along with Eldec) and they were the first OEM aircraft to come out with our product. Later, with Eastern I finally got to run and taxi them (though I could never keep my bp in line to get an ATP and a seat) training the mechanics and doing run-ups. You had to be very cautious in running one up as the engines would quite easily pull up asphalt if you weren't exactly on the concrete pad.

As for the rest - the guys in the film did a little formation flying in the day, and taught us to do it too, while crop-dusting. That would have made good film.

http://youtu.be/6EBw_4Jhi0w
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Old 12-24-2014, 09:20 PM   #9
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My father had a lot of experiencing co-piloting in formation in a B-17G (specifically, B-17G 44-6463).


His last flight was in the 487th Bomb Group consisting of only 13 planes on September 28, 1944 to attack the oil refinery at Merseburg, Germany. One plane aborted due to oxygen-system problems. Of the 11 planes returning, five had major damage and three minor from flak after hitting the target from 27,000 feet.


Dad's plane suffered a direct hit behind engine number 3 over the target. Many of the crew in the rear of the plane suffered wounds. All were taken POW with one crew member dying from wounds several months later and one losing an eye. Thanks to my father's practice of carrying two extra parachutes, one crew member's chute which opened prematurely in the bomb bay could be replaced.


(On page 133 of The History of the 487th Bomb Group (H) is a photograph of the bomber's crew in Oklahoma which includes my late brother, sitting on the lap of the pilot, Clarence Lamason.)
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Old 12-25-2014, 06:15 AM   #10
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I'm very surprised to hear of the A380's impending cancellation.

They made the wrong bet.

Boeing thought folks would prefer to go place to place , non stop.= Dreamliner

Air-Bust thought folks would prefer to be packed in 500-800 dense to save a few cents.

They forgot is costs time & cash to fly to the sardine can , and then to connect to fly to your actual destination.

Vacationing Dutch and Germans may accept the crush concept , but except for some Arabs , the rest of the world prefers point to point.

ESPECIALLY the business folks flying 1st class for big bucks, the profit center.

The aircraft is now very dated , and could use its own NEO effort.
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Old 12-25-2014, 08:02 AM   #11
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Mark, I think you might be interested in the book, "A Higher Call", by Adam Makos. The story of a German ME 109 pilot sparing a badly crippled B17 over Germany and the pilots reunion years later.
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Old 01-15-2015, 05:39 AM   #12
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Mark, I think you might be interested in the book, "A Higher Call", by Adam Makos. The story of a German ME 109 pilot sparing a badly crippled B17 over Germany and the pilots reunion years later.
I just ordered it. Thanks.

I also just finished Angels Three Six last night.

A great book, well written, edited and full of interesting flhying and in an unstated way it really demonstrates the change in the USAF from the 60's to the 80's.

An talk about formation flying, they were proud that they would do a diamond formation with wing overlap because it looked so good from the ground.

Amazon.com: Angels Three Six: Confessions of a Cold War Fighter Pilot eBook: Chuck Lehman: Kindle Store
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Old 01-15-2015, 06:29 AM   #13
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Thanks Richard, I just ordered Angles 3-6.

What surprised me about A Higher Call, according to the author, most German pilots did not belong to the Nazi party and did not share it's idealism. For that reason many were under the surveillance of the SS.
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Old 02-04-2015, 10:58 AM   #14
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Just posted a small review of A Higher Call on my blog,
Dauntlessatsea.wordpress.com

Tim,

I owe you a shoutout because I had forgotten who made me aware of it.
A great book, extremely well written

Thanks Again
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Old 02-05-2015, 08:30 AM   #15
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Glad you enjoyed it Richard, I sure did. There are so many fascinating stories written about WW 2 you can spend a life time reading about them.

Check this movie out on Netflix, "Into the White", a true story about a German and British crew forced to depend on each other to survive after crash landing in the Norwegian wilderness.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:08 AM   #16
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a few weeks ago wifey and I were sitting out on the deck just after dark and we see these lights sailing by overhead in two's and three's, no engine noise, dozens of them. Thought we were seeing UFO's. You know, when you start feeling the skin on the back of your neck? Turns out they were silk bag luminaria (luminari plural?) from a wedding venue across town. Felt a little foolish for the prickly skin.
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Old 11-05-2015, 11:58 AM   #17
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Camera ship - C45 (Twin Beech). Whidbey Island in background. Passing over Point No Point at 1:00.

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Old 11-06-2015, 07:11 AM   #18
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Very cool.
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