In December 2001, I was flying the test phase off my newly built RV-6A. I was a young pilot, ~70 hours total time, 60 of that in a Cessna 152 for my private pilot training. I was "approached"(details classified) by Bob "Subob" Goodman one day while air born to let him fly my wing. I was scared to death. He was a retired F-15 pilot. I was so green in my new RV-6A I could hardly find my fuel pump switch. We could not have been more opposite in our flying backgrounds. My training.. Stay as far away from other aircraft as possible! See and avoid. Keep away from other aircraft. His training. Get as close to the other plane as possible and stick like glue. My first experience with formation flying was "Subob" flying off my wing. My goal, dont let him hit me. His goal, scare the bejesus out of me! Well not really. Thats not what his intentions were, but that was certainly the result.
Those first 15 minutes of me flying around with him welded to my wing were the most terrifying 15 minutes I had ever spent in the air. We landed, I was shaken by the experience. I had never experienced anything like that before. As terrified as I was, after my knees stopped knocking, terror turned into exilerating excitement. It was the coolest thing I had ever experienced. I jsut could not believe how he was able to hang with me through turns, climbs and decents. He just was there and "in" all the time. I hardly knew "Subob" back then. An aquaintence really. I saw him with his Subaru powered RV-4 on the ramp at our home base many times. I called him "Subaru Bob" for the longest time. He spent more hours running his plane on the ground connected to a computer for adjustment, than he ever did flying. After our first formation flight, I asked him if he would teach me how to do it. He agreed. But not before telling me that it would take time and effort. I had no idea how right he was. From there we began meeting at the airport a couple times a week. He would sit me down and go over in great detail the nuances of one aspect of formation flight.
Then we would go fly it, debrief it, and fly it again. This went on for months. He led me around, day after day. I had never had so much fun, flying or otherwise. Never been so challenged. Never had such experience mentoring me. In the matter of a few weeks, I was swept up in formation flying by "Subob." We were quite a pair for a while. He needed a formation buddy if he was going to be able to enjoy his love of formation flying. I needed him to keep me safe and teach me the ropes. I was on a steep learning curve. By the spring of 2002, I was getting the hang of it and others were joining the frey. After all, you can't fly formation if you don't have some buddies to fly with. "Subob" kept his mentoring going, teaching others. I organized. He taught and kept us safe. Id round up some friends. "Subob" would give us lessons. And boy did we learn some lessons. In the summer of 2002, the newly formed gaggle of RV formation guys from Atlanta went out to an RV fly-in in Waco Texas.
We went out there to take an FFI formation check ride. We needed some credentials if we going to fly more. As we stood in the grass watching the RV's arrive, Falcon Flight arrived. I had neither seen nor heard of Falcon Flight before that day. They arrived overhead in the most perfect 6 ship double vic I had ever seen. The entire fly-in came to a stand still, eyes up, looking at the arrival of the Falcon Flight RV Formation Team. My formation buddies were all standing by me as Falcon Flight flew over head. The roar of the engines, the symmetry of the formation. We were stunned. I mean, we could fly formation sure. But not like that! They were perfect. We were terrible. We actually thought we were pretty good. Right up until the moment Falcon Flight arrived. We were quickly humbled. After the Falcon Flight pass over head, we all looked at each other with the same "Holy shit did you see that" look on our faces.
We passed our formation check ride that day. But more importantly we took that moment on the field, that 'holy shit' moment we all experienced together, we took it home. We all had that image in our minds of that moment. That moment that Falcon Flight arrived and took the entire fly-in over. We took it home and decided that was going to be us. And there it was born in Waco Texas in the summer of 2002. A vision for perfection. A vision that came to be Team RV. Looking back now, I realize what sparked my enthusiasm. It was "Subob's" passion for the discipline and art of formation flying. The intensity, drive, skills, and un-mistakable rewards of improvement, that made all of us stick with it. It was the Falcon Flight arrival into Waco, and a group of friends that I now call family, that put it all together.