Latest Flight’s in the AT-6 and T-6

  Latest Flight’s in the AT-6 and T-6


  By Dr. Lionel D. Alford,Jr.

Hawker Beechcraft Lead Test Pilot

  3 to 7 Feb 2014



I flew the T-6C (PH-1) and the AT-6 (AT-3) in Yuma for a photo shoot. I flew the T-6C to Yuma in a two ship formation with AT-2. We flew to Albuquerque and then Yuma. AT-2 (AT-6) met us there.

The next day, we flew in a four ship formation with B-25 Photo Fanny. Paul Bowen, the photographer, and Roger, the videographer, were hanging out of the back of the B-25. The four aircraft all hung together, each of the T/AT-6s waiting for their turn for pictures and videos. We flew some single ship, two ship, and three ship. All of the flights were in the afternoon and evening to accommodate the lighting.

I flew the first day in PH-1, the second day in PH-1 and AT-3, and the last day in AT-3. On the first day, we focused on single ship closeups from the back of the B-25. On the second day, we did touch and goes and runway pullups, then formation behind and in front of the B-25. The last day, we did front single ship and rear breakaways.

I’ve done a lot of photochase and photo flights from both the giving and receiving end. In photochase, you want to always be ready to get into position and yet stay out of the photo frame. You don’t want to photo bomb the pictures. To be ready, you need to stay in your position, monitor everyone else’s position, and be ready to get to the proper position. Being in the right position at the right time is critical to prevent wasting the photographer’s time. Plus with most aircraft and for most lighting conditions, you are fuel and time limited. The rejoins back into formation are the most exciting events, especially from the breakaways.

We returned to Beech Field on Friday in a three ship formation. I was sent ahead as the weather bird and flew an approach to check out the conditions. There was light rime icing in the clouds, so I flew a quick descent from vectors that put me at the proper altitude for the approach. There was some ice in the clouds, but the approach and landing was uneventful. Everyone landed safely.

This was a very exciting and profitable mission–photos of aircraft in flight.