Since 2002, the Williams Lake Flying Club has participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies with a missing man formation flyover.
This year was no exception as pilots Lloyd Como, Ron Kaufman, Marty Lauren, Cameron Linde and Don Stanchfield took to the skies, departing from the Williams Lake airport to time the flyover of the city at 11 a.m.
Kaufman led the formation followed by Lauren in second, Stanchfield in third, Como in fourth and Linde in fifth place.
“I have been doing the formation since 2002,” said Lauren after the flight, adding there was an instructor at Lawrence Aviation at the time named Munid Mujic who taught the pilots how to fly the formation properly. “There was a group of us that learned the formation who still fly today.”
Linde said participating in the flyover touches his heart.
“It is fun too,” he added.
The group flies together often and then the month leading up to Remembrance Day will practice the formation flying several times, Como said.
“I only made one practice because of hunting season this time, but there were at least four practices,” he said.
On Remembrance Day, pilot Dave Ireland flew above the formation plane to help keep them in place, giving them directions over the radio.
As the Tribune rode along with Stanchfield, he explained that he keeps his eyes on the plane at the front to maintain his position.
“Because we have five members here today we are flying in a V-formation. We fly as close as we feel comfortable,” he said.
Their practices only last about 30 minutes because it takes so much concentration, he added.
“The main thing is knowing your airplane,” Stanchfield said. “You have to be able to put in inputs immediately. You cannot be thinking about what you are going to do with your airplane, you have to act quickly.”
In this case, it works, because they are all very high time pilots and it feels natural, he added.
Recalling his instruction on the formation flying, Stanchfield said Mujic sat in the back seat and would instruct him from there.
“He was really direct but was nice about it and got the point across. I don’t think any of us could have learned it on our own. He was really good.”