I have always wondered when the rest of my squadron would land after returning from a mission. Usually, I land and wait for a few minutes to see what the rest of them will do. Nothing. They continue to fly around the airfield in endless circles. I get tired of waiting and would end the flight.
Last night I decided to wait and see, no matter how long it took.
First, I did not land right away when over the airfield. I just got behind the rest of them and followed. They all flew past the airfield by about 5 NM and then made an abrupt 180 degree turn and headed back toward the field, descending lower as they approached. Almost upon touchdown, they all skimmed the surface by about 10 feet and, near the treeline, they all, one by one, pulled up and u-turned again and headed back in the opposite direction, climbing.
OK, I'll play along. I followed them again and they flew about 5-6 NM away from the field, following the same course they took the first time. Then came that 180 degree turn again and they all headed back to the field, slowly descending as if they were going to land. Just prior to the field, 2 of them dropped lower and finally touched their wheels on the grass. The others did the skimming thing again and did not land.
I stayed aloft to see what would follow. In the meantime, the first two on the ground kept going at a good clip of speed and suddenly there were 2 puffs of smoke and 2 explosions as both of them went headlong into the trees at full throttle. Ouch!
The others seemed to take no notice and continued to climb and head back on the same flight path they had taken 2 times before, and repeated the same 180 degree turn again, heading back to the field a third time. In the meantime, I had already turned back just before them and was ahead of them by a mile or so. I landed and taxied up the the two burning wrecks to make sure that it was indeed my squadron members and not some random bombs or shell hits.
I saw that it was and turned to taxi back to the hangers when one of the other guys finally touched down, followed by the others. He finally stopped OK, but one of the others shot past me at full throttle and proceeded to run directly into the one of the wrecks, causing another cloud of aircraft parts and an explosion. Ouch again!
The others all landed safely very shortly after.
Next time, I will be the first to land and head directly to the nearest pub!