6-Jun-2016 Source: Gazelle Squadron
On Tuesday 31 May 2016, the Gazelle Squadron Display Team flew to RAF Abingdon in Oxfordshire with a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Display Authorisation Evaluator.
The CAA display authorisation is a mandatory process for any pilot that wishes to perform a flying display in the UK, and involves many months of planning, practicing and evaluating flying display routines, aircraft and aircrew performance.
Once at Abingdon, our two pilots, Andy and Russ, were ready for their evaluation by the CAA. Prior to getting airborne, a comprehensive briefing of the flying display, the aircraft involved (the amazing Westland Gazelle, obviously!) and a quick Q&A session to ensure that everyone was happy.
After this, it was time for Andy and Russ to take to the skies over Abingdon to perform their full flying display in front of the CAA evaluator, who was watching from the ground to ensure the display was flown exactly as it was briefed, that it was safe and adhered to the CAA mandated flying display distances. For us, that is 150m away from the crowdline and 200ft above ground level unless we are flying low speed, hover based manoeuvres. It is vital that we maintain these safe distances at all times when displaying and whilst repositioning at the very end of the crowdline.
Following the flying display, Andy and Russ landed and a thorough debrief was completed, with the CAA evaluator going over the display, anything that may be a problem during airshows, including weather, aircraft issues and problems on the ground and in the air.
At the end of the briefing, the CAA evaluator provided us with the news we were waiting for, he was happy that our display was safe, followed the plan (known as “a ribbon diagram”) we had developed and that we would be able to display as either a single aircraft or a pair at events throughout 2016!
The hard work put in by Andy and Russ in the aircraft, the entire ground crew, and support from Falcon Aviation through the last several months has paid off and as a team we are hugely excited and relieved to be fully ready for RAF Cosford Air Show on Sunday 19 June, our debut flying display – see you there!