What the Heck Wednesday - Formation Flight Whoopsie

This week on What the Heck Wednesday we have a submission from RCGroups member FlyBigElectric showing three Timber 110's flying together.

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Timber!

This week on What the Heck Wednesday we have a submission from RCGroups member FlyBigElectric showing 3 Timber 110's flying together. Before we talk about the flight, can I just mention how jelly I am of these guys. That is an amazing place to fly and that view of the mountains in the background will never get old.

OK back to the crash. These 3 Timber 110's take off for some chase and formation flying. They are pretty big planes so the first pilot takes off and starts flying a large pattern. Communication is key when formation flying since you have to watch your own plane and have limited visibility into what the other planes are doing. That's a lesson these guys learned the hard way when pilot 1 failed to inform pilot 2 of his intentions. Instead of continuing the right hand pattern and coming down the runway, pilot 1 turns left while pilot 2 turns right and they try to occupy the same airspace at the same time, which as we know, never works out. The planes collide into a shower of balsa.

Let it be a lesson to anyone thinking about flying formation with other pilots. Communicate and let the other pilots know what you are planning to do as you are flying. Also keep the "blue sky rule" in mind. If there is blue sky between the two planes, they cannot hit each other. What other tips do you guys have for formation flights? Let us know in the comments.

If you have a video of a weird or entertaining crash and would like to be featured on What the Heck Wednesday, please send me a PM with your submission.

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Feb 17, 2021, 12:29 PM
Registered User
Yes, communication is key. And when you fly formation, you need to accept the risks. It appears that the lead or #1 Timber pilot was as fault for this. Why did he do the 180 turn into the flight path of the #2 Timber? And they seemed too far out to fly formation safely. This probably would not have happened if a standard flight pattern was maintained.
Feb 17, 2021, 01:48 PM
Intermediate Multi
Trisquire's Avatar
Pretty epic flying field.
Feb 17, 2021, 07:26 PM
Registered User
That's Karma for you...

3 planes, 10 miles of airspace, and a mid-air.

10 combat planes trying to hit each other in 25 feet of airspace, won't happen.

And yes - what a beautiful flying spot.
Feb 17, 2021, 08:07 PM
Registered User
FlyBigElectric's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett_N
That's Karma for you...

3 planes, 10 miles of airspace, and a mid-air.

10 combat planes trying to hit each other in 25 feet of airspace, won't happen.

And yes - what a beautiful flying spot.

When the shock wore off we were able to laugh that we could not hit each other flying combat earlier that day. We could not hit them when we were trying...
Last edited by FlyBigElectric; Feb 18, 2021 at 06:39 AM.
Feb 17, 2021, 08:35 PM
Gorilla glue rocks
Spit100's Avatar
That was really un expected! Too bad. Lesson learned for me.....

Jon
Feb 17, 2021, 08:36 PM
aka: Scott Ellis
Xeric's Avatar
Before anybody gets TOO jealous, that's a private field (literally) in Montana's Paradise Valley and it's only open to us (or anybody) a couple of times a year, but yes, it's an utterly gorgeous place to fly. I have to remind myself to watch my airplane and not the scenery.

The video was just dumb luck with my iPhone, but I'm happy to see we're famous!
Feb 18, 2021, 01:05 PM
Registered User
OhBee's Avatar
I didn't see a thing...except one remaiming dust dot in the sky!
Feb 18, 2021, 11:40 PM
Turn & Burn
winterstick's Avatar
Where to start... How about a preflight brief where lead briefs the plan, contingencies and emergency procedures. Then a postflight debrief for lessons learned. Yeah, it takes some time and a bit of thought, but will go a long way to reduce unforced errors like this.
Feb 22, 2021, 09:27 AM
Registered User
radfordc's Avatar
There is a "trick" that absolutely prevents a mid-air collision....but it's not always easy to accomplish. The trick is simple, always keep some blue sky between your plane and the others. Seeing sky between the planes ensures that they are at least not going to occupy the same airspace at the same time. It's when planes visually cross over each other that a collision becomes possible.

The easiest way is to have all planes going in the same direction so that all remain within your peripheral vision. In this video you see the hardest case....two planes coming head on. Each pilot only has an instant or so to try to achieve the "blue sky" separation needed. Doesn't always happen.
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