'Formation Flying'......a deep freeze LC-130-F and a Sopwith Camel...


With all this talk about formation flying from Capt. Moe, I thought I'd relate this little incident that happened at the 50th Anniversary of Naval Aviation celebration in Pensacola June 6-12,1961.

"Pappy" Chapin, USMC, and I took 318 to Pensacola for the week of celebrations at which time we were given free reign to do whatever the OP control at Pensacola wanted us to do, with no checking with VX-6.  We were a static display for a couple of days, having the crew manning the aircraft and lecturing to the public concerning skis, etc., etc.

The OPS officer came to me and asked me if I could go to Cecil Field to pick up the maintenance personnel needed to support four A4D-Skyhawks coming over to Pensacola to put on flights for the public.  I said, "Sure", filed a flight plan and left for Cecil.    

Upon arrival at Cecil, I found that an old colleague of mine from Stevens Point was in the squadron and was going to be flying lead plane back to PNS. 
So, we rigged up a little rendezvous.  Bob Sample and I discussed the speeds of the 130 and the A4D.  He said, originally, that he would give me 45-50 minutes lead and pick me up about halfway to Pensacola.  I told him with that much lead time, I'd be at the Club having a drink before he pulled into the chocks.  He revised it and gave me about 8 minutes lead time.......and caught me about Tallahassee. 

We had discussed radio frequencies on UHF and arrived at a convenient frequency.  When he joined on my left wing, I had a cute little WAVE standing next to me, waving at him.  This didn't make him feel too good! 

He often wondered why I chose the big planes instead of the small ones.  When I raised a cup of coffee to him as a toast, he realized why. 

We had discussed the approach to Sherman Field and decided I would lead with two birds on each wing, sucked in tight.  We started an approach cleared by the tower for a low pass at 500 feet.  At about 10 miles, I pushed over and started my descent straight in and Bob and the boys held their position.  The two outboard A4D's must have been about a hundred feet off the deck, because I was at 300 feet, indicating 300 knots.  As planned, when we passed over the field, I pulled up and made a left turn over my inboard followers and we all broke into a carrier break-up, came around, and landed......to great cheers from the crowd that was there.  It was a lot of fun and Bob was really impressed with the capabilities of the 130.  And their maintenance crew inside my plane, watching, were quite impressed, too!  The G's we pulled on the break-up drove them all to their knees while they'd been looking out of the windows at their birds. Fun time was had by all.

On display at the celebration was a Sopwith Camel, flown in from the West Coast in a handicapped race with a Corsair.  We were informed after the celebration was complete that we were to take the wings off the Sopwith Camel and load it in our bird for the return flight to Norton AFB.  This we did. 

One of my flight engineers, Bob Weyrauch, came up to me after we'd leveled off at 30,000 feet and he was just beaming.  He said," Mr. Dryfoose, I'm the only man in the world that ever sat in the cockpit of a Sopwith Camel, took off, climbed to 30,000 feet and got out of it to walk forward to the flight deck.  GREAT feeling!"

We off-loaded the Sopwith Camel at Norton and returned to Quonset Point. 
Great trip!


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