Some of the enthusiastic Yak owners and pilots, from Virginia Airport in Durban, got together on 13 January 2018 to hone their formation flying skills. One of the pilots Mark Reid has been away working in Dubai arriving home just before the festive season. He galvanised his fellow pilots into flying several practice sorties during the week leading up to Saturday. On Saturday they flew a four-ship formation with one Yak 55, two Yak 52s and a Yak 18T. The Yak 55 ZU-DSH was flown by Bruce Daniels, Yak 52 ZU-CWP was flown by Paulo-Jorge Da Silva Martins and Martin Schulze, Yak 52 ZU-CWJ was flown by Mark Reid and William O'Driscoll and the Yak 18T by Brendan Adams.
The Yak pilots from left to right: - Martin Schulze, Mark Reid, William O'Driscoll, Brendan Adams, Paulo-Jorge Da Silva Martins and Bruce Daniels next to the Yak 55.
The training exercise brought back memories of the iconic Yak weeks some years ago when the training was overseen by air force pilots from the Silver Falcons (South African Airforce) and some of the Red Arrows (Royal Air Force.) Formation flying is very demanding and helps to hone the flying skills of all the participants. Teamwork and trust are an essential part of this type of flying and helps to make them better pilots.
Yak 52 at the ready
The Yaks lined up in front of the terminal.
The Yak 18T
Prior to take off there was a thorough briefing conducted by Bruce Daniels. The pilots discussed the formations they would fly and the usual signals and safety matters. They then did several walk throughs of the formation changes that they had planned.
Bruce Daniels explains a formation change.
The team walks through their flight.
The pilots in front of the Yak 18T. Paulo-Jorge Da Silva Martins, William O'Driscoll, Brendan Adams, Mark Reid, Bruce Daniels and Martin Schulze.
After the briefing the team strapped in and all the sometimes temperamental Yaks started flawlessly.
Mark Reid (front) and William O'Driscoll ready to go.
Paulo-Jorge Da Silva Martins front and Martin Schulze.
Brendan Adams ready to go.
Bruce Daniels warms up the Yak 55.
The team then lined up on runway 05 and took off at short intervals before heading down the coast.
The four Yaks lined up with a hazy Durban skyline behind them.
Brendan Adams rotates the 18T.
Paulo-Jorge Da Silva Martins gets his Yak 52 airborne with co-owner Martin Schulze in the rear seat
Mark Reid lifts off in his Yak 52 with William O'Driscoll in the back.
Bruce Daniels airborne in his smart Yak 55.
The plan was to take off from Virginia and head south to the general flying area. On the way out, they headed around the Bluff in diamond formation and once thereafter they did many formation changes. Some of those flown were finger 4, echelon, diamond and line astern.
On their return from the general flying area the formation made a couple of passes at Virginia prior to landing.
The team then landed safely to end an enjoyable practice session.
The weather was perfect making this a wonderful day for flying and the participants had a lot of fun keeping their formation skills up to scratch.