RV-6 30th anniversary formation and West Coast Ravens at EAA AirVenture

Want to know the coolest thing in the world? Watching your favorite person kick ass achieving a major goal. In my case, I got to see Mr. T perform in his first official air show at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. (For those keeping score, he flew in a very cool flyover for the 40th anniversary of Vans RVs in 2012, but it was not during the waivered show.)

In a previous post, I likened the AirVenture air shows to the Olympics, and I barely exaggerate. Only the best of the best get to perform at Osh, and my heart just about burst watching T and his dear friends achieve such a milestone. (Seriously, I was embarrassing. There was squealing, some bouncing. I tapped strangers who were heads down in their phones and made them watch.)

In the following photos, I chronicle two excellent events. The first is a showcase of 34 RVs in formation on the Tuesday of AirVenture. The collection of pilots from across the country (see photos of the practice here) made several beautiful passes mid-day. The second event is from the air show Thursday which included a special 30-ship formation to honor the 30th anniversary of the Vans RV-6. After a fly-by, the West Coast Ravens (including T) peeled off and performed their dynamic maneuvering show. SQUEAL!

RVs homebuilt parking EAA Oshkosh
Mr. T (aka Tim “Tank” Redden) in his RV-4 getting ready. Nordo (aka Dan West) is back and to the left in his RV-8. 
RV-7 Mercedes Cougar
Mercedes “Cougar” Eulitt in her brand new last year home built RV-7.
Tim Cone
Tim “Slick” Cone.
30-ship formation take off
The Tuesday formation taking off. The pilots took off in four-ship elements and then regrouped over Lake Winnebago. Digging that Corsair in the foreground.
34-ship formation at AirVenture Oshkosh
A 34-ship formation pass over EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Pilots came together from across the U.S. including the West Coast Ravens, Falcon Flight in Texas, KC Flight from Kansas City, Bulldog flight from Arkansas, and more.
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
The variety of colors and configurations charms me almost as much as the pilot call signs. I won’t name them all but there’s Nasty, Goose (for a bird strike, not the movie), Lizard, Slick, Spike, Bulldog, Jawbone, Shorts, Driller, Cipher and 25 more. Most have fantastic stories about how they earned their call signs. (I’m Tankerbelle, of course.)
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
It takes a ton of coordination, practice, and precision to fly so close together. Every pilot pictured is credentialed to fly formation in airshows.
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Loved walking around hearing people on the ground comment about how good the formation passes looked. Proud wife time!
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Have I mentioned these pilots practice ALL the time. All. The. Time.
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Arrow formation with stingers. 
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Diamond Pass. Although I played photographer during the weekend practice, I gladly gave up the job to a pro during the show. Love this view from the ground.
Chet Wehe Oshkosh 34-ship
And it was a good decision. Look at this gorgeous shot by Chet WeheOf course, the photographer is but half the equation in a “money shot” like this. Kudos to Carl “Jawbone” Brownd who flew photoship and got his Super Six in exactly the right spot!
34-ship formation at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Taxiing back.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
Look at that line-up. Number 11 is my favorite, of course.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens Tim Tank Redden
A happy happy man.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
West Coast Ravens team. Back row, from left: Mercedes “Cougar” Eulitt, Tim “Slick” Cone, Scott “Spike” Randolph, Brad “Tailwind” Ransom, Tim “Tank” Redden, Sean “Goose” Farrell. Front row, from left: Dan “Cowboy” Hammond, Tommy “Turbo” Ishii, Bob “Nasty” Mills, and Mike “KB” Smith.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
A huge part of formation flying is unsurprisingly, communication. Every flight involves a brief which includes a run-down of what maneuvers will be accomplished, as well as check-ins and questions/comments from each pilot. In this photo, the West Coast Ravens formation team lead, Nasty, is walking through the maneuvers that the big formation will perform. Sometimes the team will even “dirt dance” the entire show.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
In the foreground, the two solos – Tank (aka Mr. T) on the left, solo lead, and Slick, on the right, solo wingman – talk through their maneuvers.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
In the center, KB looks on with Cougar to his right. Now retired, KB flew Skyraiders (and several other aircraft) during his service in the Air Force (see pictures of the Skyraiders here).
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
Cowboy and Sunblock listen intently.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
Turbo is the only one who stopped pretending not to see me.
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Vans RV-6.
Vans RV-6 30th anniversary formation 30-ship
Look at those beautiful lines!
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
30-ships in formation. Right before the pass, there was a showcase of other RVs, including the RV-12 flown by a newer pilot, which actually crossed under the formation to land. George “Cipher” Ford’s video of it (shot from the ground while he was flying in the above photo!) is hilarious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiamdglvkjU&feature=youtu.be
AirVenture Oshkosh West Coast Ravens
Paul “Rosie” Rosales served as announcer for the 30-ship RV-6 anniversary formation pass and the West Coast Ravens show. Nasty’s son Matt stands to the left in the red shirt. Kitty (that’s her actual name, not a call sign, is up there somewhere.)
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
West Coast Ravens!!
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Solos peel off from the opening pass. Mr. T as solo lead is far right.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Tank and Slick tearing it up. (Photographer’s note: This zoom limitation is going to require a lens upgrade, for crying out loud.)
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Setting up for the “roll reversal.”
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Line abreast recovery from the roll reversal.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
“Double-V” pass.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
“Double-V” pass.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Slick and Tank inbound.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
“Clover 360” downline.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
“Airplane” formation.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
“Airplane” formation.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Tank and Slick performing the “roll and cross.”
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Roll and cross.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
So cool.
DSC_0006 (2)
EZ (e.g. Rutan Vari-Eze) Pass
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
EZ (e.g. Rutan Vari-Eze) Pass.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Tank and Slick on the opposing pass.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Head-to-head closing in at more than 400 mph! (Don’t try this at home, kids.)
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
West Coast Ravens “Delta” pass.  Tank and Slick lurk high above for a high-energy rejoin.
West Coast Ravens Delta Pass AirVenture Oshkosh
Delta pass turning for the final pass. Would it have killed mother nature to give us some blue skies? I’m just grateful they got to fly though. It was rainy and grey all morning.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Solos hustle to rejoin the Delta in time.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Last pass over Osh.
West Coast Ravens formation EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Post-flight debrief hoorah.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Just trying to get a post-brilliance picture with my love, and got mobbed by all of these pesky ravens.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Five of eight awesome West Coast Ravens, and me. From left: Tankerbelle, Slick (behind), Tank, Cougar, Goose, KB. Great job, folks!
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Flight lead Nasty and his son, Matt. Matt and I bonded over a shared love of cheese curds. Preferred style? Fried and melty of course.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
And then the Ravens got a little bit mobbed by a joyful group of pilots and aviation enthusiasts from the Dominican Republic.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
The Dominican crew especially loved Cougar.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Tank and Tankerbelle at the famous Oshkosh Brown Arch.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
On the way out, we met the Ravens’ number one fan.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Who promptly freaked out during picture taking and ran back to his mom.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
And refused to stand anywhere near the group. Too funny.
West Coast Ravens EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Happily exhausted Ravens under the C-5.

If you’re in Southern California in a couple weeks, check out the West Coast Ravens at Wings Over Camarillo August 20 and 21.

xoxo,
Tankerbelle

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