My favorite wingman will be on MythBusters!!

Mr. T and company visiting Pine Mountain Lake Airport Day. T is in the
back in the red and white Vans RV-4.

Greetings from a very stormy Sacramento. Traveling to New Orleans this past week stymied my blogability and I’ve been sitting on two very exciting pieces of news…

1. Mr. T, my favorite pilot extraordinaire, is now a certified Formation Flying Incorporated (FFI) WINGMAN! If you’ve kept up on his formation flying exploits (see here, here and here), you know that he’s been flying his buns off learning the ins and outs of precision flying in groups. I am pleased to report that he recently passed his “checkride.” This means he can fly in formation at a full-scale airshow where the airport is closed to normal operations. Woot!

The checkride was a four-plane, hour-long, orchestrated flight where the pilots performed each of the standard formation maneuvers up to aerobatic limits. All the while, a check pilot in a fifth aircraft flew around and scrutinized every move. In preparation, T and his colleagues practiced their checkride routine 10 times before the big day. To see an example of a start-to-finish checkride routine (complete with gorgeous Northern California scenery), sneak a peek at this video. (Note: The clip is 52 minutes long. You have Mr. T’s permission to fast-forward to the interesting stuff at will.)

T is in the back row, fifth from the left, the first West Coast Ravens blue shirt.


I’ve been holding in that secret for forever (okay, since they filmed the episode in September). Here’s a description of the “Formation Flock” episode: “Kari, Tory, and Grant take to the skies to find out if a flying V works for planes as well as it does for birds.”

I wasn’t able to attend the filming, but I promise you, T is still wearing a goofy grin from the experience. Here are some behind-the-scenes photos of the upcoming episode.

Tory and Mr. T on the ramp after the flying is done. During the two-day shoot, T flew in a mock airshow, assisted the crew with camera siting and arrival/departure operations, and was safety pilot for the helicopter shoot.
Tim “Slick” Cone gives an interview in front of his RV-8. Slick is an FFI flight lead and recommended T for his checkride.
Kari setting up the myth testing for the episode in front of DGA Aviation’s RV-4. This is the plane that Mr. T. (Tim “Tank” Redden) flies in formation.
After two days of flying, Kari and Grant catch a breath in front of Bob “Nasty” Mills’ Super Six. Nasty flew this beautiful bird in the Reno Air Races this past September and also gave me my very own call sign–Tankerbelle. Get it?
Myth successfully tested! Tune in to the Discovery Channel on November 30 to see whether it’s confirmed, plausible or busted!

Shawna aka “Tankerbelle”

P.S. If you want to see some more cool formation videos, check these out:
Veterans Day pass over the Chico Air Museum
Veterans Day River Highlands Ranch

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