Training Material (Formation Flying (ver 1.
Formation flying, it’s not all fun and games, and for the most part, can be quite a challenge. To fly in well in a formation takes a great deal of trust in yourself and your wingmen, both of which will grow with practice. This is not something you can learn in an afternoon and requires you to gradually get better at judging speed and distance between the aircraft in your flight as well as communicating efficiently with the other people in your flight.
The checks for Pre-Flight will be sorted out on the ground by your flight lead, you need to be aware of these few things to make sure you know what you are doing before you go wheels up. 1) Flight positions (ie. lead, 1, 2, 3, 4), 2) Weather, 3) Airspeed/throttle, 4) Heading, 5) Altitude, 6) Formation type. Most of the time we have plenty of space between us so it's not an issue, but as we get closer together in flight this information becomes more important. One of the best ways is to just go out and practice with each other taking turns at lead and wingmen. Also don’t stick to one position in a flight, you will need to practice all positions so that you know what your wingmen are doing and so you can fill that position if matters came to that.
The basic element of formation flying is "Flights of Two". It doesn't matter if there are twenty of us; we always have a lead and a wingman. So when taxing out to the runway, we should take off in flights of two. The best technique is to have lead line up in front on the downwind side of the runway with his wingman on his left or right slightly back. This way his prop wash gets blown away from his wingman on take-off row, most runways are wide enough to provide the needed separation in case lead had to abort for some reason and the wingman could continue his take off or abort also. The next two aircraft don't begin their take-off roll until the first two have cleared the runway and started a climb. On climb-out, lead shouldn't run off and leave everyone. The basic technique is to reduce power and maintain an airspeed that allows the other flights of two aircraft to catch up. Once the designated formation is achieved and all aircraft are airborne then it’s time to head out for the mission objective.
Formations and Their Uses
Now we are up and ready to move out, but which formation is good to use? How do I know (as a flight lead) which one to choose? Below is a list of the various formations that you may use with explanations of their uses.
An echelon formation is a military formation in which members are arranged diagonally. Each member is stationed behind and to the right (a 'right echelon'), or behind and to the left ('left echelon'), of the member ahead. Tactically, echelon formations are used because of the excellent range of vision offered to each participant in the formation.
Visual contact is why V formations (and the echelon formations) are also commonly adopted by flights of military aircraft engaged on a common mission. The basic flight formation for military aircraft in many air forces during World War II was a V formation
This formation is an aggressive offensive formation that is oriented to easily attack any enemies in front of the line. This formation is also a good search formation, especially with large numbers and wide spacing between each pilot. Care should be taken to ensure the spacing does not leave individual pilots unsupported. Those pilots on either end should pay extra attention to their spacing as they only have support from one side. Defensively this formation leaves a lot to be desired. Attacks from the rear cannot be countered without making major turns
This formation is good for moving a formation between ground threats. The lead pilot picks a path to reduce exposure to AAA concentrations. This formation presents little offensive power to the front for air to air engagements but allows fairly quick response to threats off the main line of advance. Pilots are still required to make large turns to engage threats 90 degrees to the sides all the way back to the rear of the formation. The formation is very vulnerable to attacks from the rear keeping a very active scan going for those threats are a vital requirement.
Basic Rules to keep you Alive
Number one Golden Rule: the wingman always keeps lead in sight whilst scanning the skies for danger! In Cruise flight, a couple of basic rules are; 1) The wingman never gets ahead of lead unless there's radio contact 2) Lead should always make shallow turns of 20 degrees or less. 3) It is important for lead to maintain the briefed airspeed, altitude, and heading. 4) The basic position for the wingman is 45 degrees off of lead's left or right with your eyes on lead and your hand on the throttle - adjusting as necessary. 5) Always tell lead if you are going to slide in closer on his left or right. You must always be on alert for overshooting! 6) You never want to approach lead in trail formation. By closing in on lead off to either side you have an out if you begin to overshoot.
During Landing, we should touch down in flights of two on a normal wide runway, with the lead two aircraft landing by touching down long, followed by the next flight of two aircraft landing short. This allows us to get as many aircraft down and potentially back up again, in the least amount of time.
Practices will be available on the designated training days, so don’t miss out.