The Trojan Phlyers, flight demonstration team, operates two historic T-28 warbirds.
Their remarkable flying skills are underlined by the team’s dedication to keep these elderly aircraft in display condition.
We checked in with team leader Chip Lamb, to find out what goes on in the winter? There is much unseen work that takes place. Chip provides a fascinating insight into the maintenance of these classic aircraft, and how the team get ready for the season ahead.
Q – The Trojan Phlyers are in winter maintenance, we often focus on the show season but how important is this time of year?
Our off-season (December thru February) is spent doing annual inspections and maintenance on our two aircraft, marketing ourselves to potential air show organizers for the coming show season, and preparing the next season’s air show flying routine. We are just as busy now as we are during the air show season, but with less flying.
Q – What parts of the aircraft need attention in a winter maintenance phase?
The engines will get a very thorough inspection with minor adjustments made, and we will look at landing gear and brake wear along with metalwork and paint touch-up.
Q – How frequently do you need to think about ‘deep maintenance’ like removing structures for inspection or repair?
There are two types of ‘deep maintenance’… scheduled and unscheduled. We have put many of our aircrafts’ major sub-systems (landing gear, brakes, carburettors) on a set schedule so that we can plan when we want to overhaul or repair that sub-system. It’s the ‘unscheduled maintenance’ that causes us much distress. An unanticipated need for an engine change or major sheet metal work can upset our schedule for the reminder of the year. We don’t like surprises.
Q – Tell us about your engineering team?
We have two mechanics to do most of the inspection and repair work (I don’t), but they have other jobs, so our work is done in their spare time. If I plan it right… it’s no problem, but an unscheduled repair or replacement can destroy our inspection/repair schedule.
Q – How has your Trig equipment performed across the last season?
It performed well with no problems. We have no complaints, only praise for our Trig radios and transponders. It’s nice to fly with equipment that we can depend on. When we are flying and manoeuvring a few hundred feet above the ground, we do not need any distractions to break our concentration.
Q – Will you also need to hone your formation skills? How is this achieved after a winter break?
As soon as both aircraft have finished their winter inspection and repair schedules, we start practicing for the upcoming season. With almost no air shows this season due to the Covid outbreak, we actually started working on our 2021 season flying routine before the winter maintenance break.
Q – What additional pressures has the team faced due to Covid?
The Covid outbreak essentially destroyed our air show schedule (we performed at only one air show, Thunder Over Cedar Creek Lake), so our performance revenues were zeroed out. Robert and I continued to fly and practice with the forlorn hope that the outbreak might die out, and we might fly the last portion of our schedule, but alas, that didn’t happen. Fortunately, everyone on the team has been healthy.
Q – What are your hopes and expectations for the team in 2021?
Well… after 2020, things can only get better… I hope. We are working hard to fill out a busy flying schedule for 2021, but I fear this season may be just as bad as last year.
Q – Do you anticipate any new display sequences or routines?
Yes, Robert and I are practicing a new performance routine that will be both challenging and rewarding to us as pilots. We do need to remember that the performance must be exciting and appealing to the spectators, after all… this is show business.
Find out more about the Trojan Phlyers here
All aircraft systems are checked, including the landing gear – in this video clip