Watch this cool footage of two U.S. B-1s performing an “airborne pickup” departure

“Da Bone” taking off = awesome sight.

The following video is particularly interesting as it shows a type of departure rarely seen at airbases across the world: the so-called “airborne pickup.”

Military aircraft that don’t take-off in formation, usually depart in sequence, rejoining (if needed) during the climb. In an “airborne pickup” one of the aircraft takes off, makes a 180-degree turn to enter the downwind leg for the runway in use and then turns back again to rejoin with the second aircraft that, in the meanwhile, has just got airborne.

It’s a visual maneuver in which perfect timing is essential to achieve the expected outcome: if everything goes as planned, the first aircraft should be flying in formation with the other one as soon as the second aircraft has completed the departure and before it starts the next turn inbound the first waypoint.

There are no special requirements of configurations and it’s a fairly simple maneuver that requires the airborne plane to compensate for any differences in performance between the aircraft by adjusting the pattern and by calling the “brake release” to aircraft on the ground.

The following video appears to show the final part of the maneuver, with the B-1 Lancer (or “Bone”) already airborne eventually becoming number 1 of the formation departed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas (as opposed to the airborne pickup where the airborne aircraft completes the maneuver as chase plane, trailing the aircraft just taken off).

About David Cenciotti 3666 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.