15 Wing Moose Jaw executes rare 16-ship formation

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Published on July 18, 2014

A couple of members of the Canadian Armed Forces walk away from their CT-156 Harvard II aircraft after  a 16-ship formation flight at 15 Wing Moose Jaw early in the morning of July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Sixteen CT-156 Harvard II aircraft do their second fly-by in a different formation over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Pilots and passengers walk away from their aircraft following a rare and large formation flight over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

A pilot and a safety officer are seen following a large aircraft flight formation over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Three CT-155 Hawk aircraft fly over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Rows of aircraft - CT-156 Harvard II and CT-155 Hawk (not shown) - line the tarmack prior to a large and rare formation flight at 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Five CT-156 Harvard II aircraft fly over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Pilots and passengers emerge from their aircraft after a large formation flight over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

A pilot and passenger emerge from their aircraft after a large formation flight over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

A pilot conducts a safety check prior to the formation flight over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014.

Published on July 18, 2014

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces who participated in a formation flight over Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014 shake hands.

Published on July 18, 2014

Led by 15 Wing Commander Col. Paul Goddard (centre), all pilots and passengers who participated in a 16-ship formation flight over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on July 18, 2014 pose for a photo on the tarmack.

Pilots, support staff head up in CT-156 Harvard and CT-155 Hawk aircraft

After his first flight in a Harvard aircraft, Master-Cpl. Mark Pollock said it was “bumpy.”

“But not bad, surprisingly. I was expecting a little worse considering it’s my first flight in the Harvard. I figured I’d be the one to put my lunch into the service bag, but no it was good,” he said.

Pollock was a passenger in the back of one of the CT-156 Harvard II aircraft that participated in a rare 16-ship formation in the skies over 15 Wing Moose Jaw early Friday morning. There were 16 Harvards and three CT-155 Hawk aircraft in the formation.

The 16-ship formation is larger than any other in the CAF and Friday marked only the second time in the NATO Flying Training Centre's (NFTC) history that a flight this large took place. It was led by 15 Wing Commander Lt.-Col. Paul Goddard.

“The clouds kind of made it a little dark at times, but it was fun. There were a few G’s here and there,” said Pollock. “The high turns before you get into the G forces, you feel the pressure in your mid-drift because you must’ve pushed inwards and start sending upwards.”

While he has flown in other aircraft, he’s never been enclosed in a small aircraft like the Harvard.

“I wasn’t thinking at all. I was too busy looking around watching all the other aircraft. They were about three to 10 feet beside you,” he said. “It was neat, especially when you get all the formations in beside you because we were on the left-hand side of the formation.”

First thing in the morning prior to the flight, he added he felt a bit nervous.

“You’ve never done it before so you don’t really know what to expect, but then I settled down and once I got into the aircraft and put on the oxygen and all that, I tried to keep myself in a normal rhythm of breathing and it seemed to work. I’m here. I’m standing. I’m alive,” said Pollock.

The flight was designed to show the primary aircraft assets, get Bombardier Military Aviation Training civilian members familiar with flying and allow Goddard to lead his men and women in a formation flight.

Goddard is an A1 instructor, of which there are only 12 in Canada. That distinction makes Goddard one of the most qualified instructors in the CAF for Friday’s type of formation flight.

He was pleased with how the formation went.

 “It wasn't as good as we would've liked but certainly it didn't interfere with us getting down what we wanted to do,” said Goddard. “These guys have to go up and teach students to do this so they have to hone their own skills.”

Further to that, at 15 Wing there are pilots and support staff.

“When we have this type of a mission, we bring some of those folks who never get to fly on board with us. So they get to feel truly part of the team as we’re airborne,” said Goddard. “It’s a real morale builder for the Wing and it’s certainly a morale builder for the pilots.”

Pilots do more “dynamic formation flying” than the fly-bys, but Friday’s exercise was good for team building, he added.

Putting together a unique large formation flight takes a lot of planning.

“It’s a lot of steps to make sure everybody’s on the same sheet of music so we maintain maximum safety throughout the entire mission … (We) make sure that everybody’s very comfortable with what we’re doing, but we never do anything they don’t do every day,” said Goddard. “From people on the ground it looks bigger, but the baseline formation that they’re flying is the same as they’re doing every day.”

The clouds and the gusty winds proved to make the flight more challenging.

“It takes a while to get that number of airplanes together when you get airborne so then (you’re) trying to get down and make sure the clouds aren’t going to be an issue,” said Goddard. “It was pretty windy and turbulent today. So it was a little tough. The guys had to work a little harder to stay in position.”

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Organizations: Harvard II, NATO Flying Training Centre

Geographic location: CT, Canada

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