CAP Shoe Flag

It’s a harvester of evil
That no one can control
And it’s here to take your soul.
Don’t try to fight it.
There’s nothing you can do.
S.O.S. is coming for you!

- Dos Gringos, “S.O.S.”

I have survived Shoe Flag.  It’s actually called CAP’s Squadron Leadership School.  It and its related follow-on schools are roughly analogous to the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School or “SOS,” although the CAP courses each last a few days at most and SOS goes for a month or more.

If the legends are true, non-pilots in the Air Force (known to pilots by the pejorative term “shoe clerks”) regard SOS as a prized opportunity.  Pilots are reputed to dread SOS because it tends to take pilots out of the cockpit for a month or so.  And, let’s face it, SOS involves very little flying upside down – or any other kind of flying.  Taking a cue from Red Flag and other “Flag” exercises, pilots occasionally refer to SOS or any similar endeavor as a “Shoe Flag.” [Read more...]

Red Tails Disappoints

As a new-media and social-media guy, you build audience by getting excited about your subject matter and getting the audience excited, too. But you build credibility when you point out the ugly among the good. I really wish that this post wasn’t going to have to be about credibility. Or about ugly. But it is.

I just got home from seeing Red Tails. I had heard that the film had received less than stellar reviews, but I made it a point to avoid others’ opinions and go see the film for myself.

I’m so disappointed. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion.  Here’s what I saw. [Read more...]

Acro Camp Sneak Peek – Lynda’s First Hammer

More editing this evening.  Mostly Lynda’s first flight in the Super Decathlon.  For starting the day pretty bunched up, Lynda is having a lot of fun on this one.  Rolls, loops, and sustained inverted.  As I pause now, Don has just demonstrated a hammerhead.

Not the best light and there are issues with shake in the cockpit camera.  But that’s okay.  I’ve got good stuff here and the camp is unfolding reasonably well.  I still wish that I had more footage on the ground with full debriefs for each flight.  I learned that lesson on this film and I remain very happy that Jack Hodgson came out for the second one and interrogated everyone at all the right points in the experience.

There’ll be challenges in making the thing hang together, but I’m pretty pleased with the fruits of what is, after all, my first stab at a feature film.  In any case, it’s a boatload of fun.


Back to Editing Acro Camp in Earnest

With the studio rearranging mostly complete, I’m back to editing the Acro Camp footage.  Having picked up some decent logging software, I’m going through each flight and logging the maneuvers and dialogue day by day.

On 14 May 2010 (Day 1 of the first Acro Camp), the campers flew 12 of the 41 sorties of the camp.  Each of the four campers flew three sorties.  Over the last day or two, I’ve logged two sorties by Paul Berliner and three by Lynda Meeks.  The frame grab above is from Lynda’s second flight.  After a couple of wingovers, Barry does a couple of 3G pulls just to begin introducing the sensation of positive G.  In the frame grab, Barry has just unloaded the airframe at the top of a pull.

Barry’s core program is essentially the same with each camper with whom he flies.  Minor variations to accommodate each camper, to be sure, but a very consistent curriculum.  It’ll be interesting to see how this evolves.  I first flew with Barry in 2008 and, if memory serves, he put be through almost exactly the same sequence of maneuvers in the early going.

Lynda’s story is unfolding in interesting ways.  I’ve seen and logged the ground footage in which she said that she was really bunched up on the way out to the practice area.  But it took watching the flight from three camera angles to really understand how bunched she was.  Really tense.  But also determined to fly upside down competently.  A really good story that’ll come out in the finished film.

Back to it.  More from the editing suite soon!



NTSB Air Race and Air Show Safety Hearing Wraps in DC


The NTSB’s Air Race and Air Show Safety Hearing just wrapped up in Washington.  I was able to watch the last hour or so.  If, like me, you missed part or all of it, the NTSB’s website indicates that the webcast will be available in archived form as early as this evening.  I’ll be checking the NTSB’s web page for the hearing ( this evening and,  if the archived version is available early enough, I might try to get through all of it and do a post or two with my thoughts (such as they are).