In order to be the season in excellent shape, The Flying Bulls embarked on their annual training camp in mid-April. Maribor has proved to be the ideal location for this purpose in recent years, which is why the team decided to return this year.
With much creative brain work, new displays were invented and planned in advance. They were only “submitted” to supervisor Bernd Piff after the pilots were fully satisfied with their result. He approved the displays and subsequently had the responsibility of observing the training flights, as well as the implementation of the displays. After the successful completion by the pilots, he issued an official displays authorisation.
This approval is a prerequisite for the pilots being admitted to the various air shows. This means that the pilots of The Flying Bulls were under close “supervision”.
The team created a completely new display for the T-28 “Trojan”, to be flown by Miguel Hochleitner. “We got together before the training camp and thought about what we could do. After we put our plans into words, we presented it to the supervisor and flew it for the first time in Maribor.” In this context, there is a lot to consider: “For example, certain approaches to the audience are prohibited and a minimum height must be respected too. All in all, it requires a lot of prior experience to fly such displays.” All sessions were perfect and the display was approved by the supervisor.
The Alpha Jet pilots Philipp Haidbauer and Stefan Doblhammer used the training camp to return to “event mode”. “Over the winter, I flew individual elements of the display at almost 2,000 metres. That was easy enough, but now I’m lowering the altitude gradually. First, I fly the display at 300 metres, then at 200, and finally at 100 metres. At the beginning of the season, it is particularly important to get used to visual stimuli. Be it when I fly a barrel roll or fly towards the ground at a 90° angle, there’s never much air between the ground and the plane,” Doblhammer explains.
Raimund Riedmann was one of the pilots who faced “double trouble”. He flew his displays in the B25 “Mitchell” as well as in the P38 “Lightning”. “Both aircraft are in great shape; it was a pleasure – as always.”
Internalising and executing new displays always demands utmost concentration, especially when the typical strong winds of Maribor come into play. “Wind during training sessions is not necessarily a bad thing. It teaches us how to cope with difficult conditions,” says Hans Pallaske. Chief pilot Raimund Riedmann is, of course, no stranger to the winds of Maribor: “We’ve been here many times and have learned how to handle the situation.”
In just two and a half days, the second B25 pilot, Frederic Handelmann, and his co-pilot Hans Pallaske perfected the individual displays and also obtained their air show approval.
Hans Pallaske also rehearsed a new display in the Cessna 337 Skymaster “Push-Pull”. He explains: “I came in a bit too low during the first session. I flew the display two more times after that and it went really well. Then all I had to do was fine-tune my routine.”
The rotor blades of the BOs also turned continuously and one training session followed the next!
5 days – 1 mission: head pilot Siegfried “Blacky” Schwarz, Rainer Wilke, and Mirko Flaim were required to focus all their attention on their helicopter aerobatics training. Aaron Fitzgerald, our new helicopter display pilot from the US, also took full advantage of the opportunity to hone his skills. The pilots practised and fine-tuned moves such as barrel rolls, loop, hammerheads, Cuban Eights, Immelmann, and others. In addition, a new manoeuvre was created and rehearsed. Now there’s something to look forward to, right?
All our pilots can look back on a positive and successful week of training. And with that, fans can expect to see new and exciting displays throughout the 2018 event season.