Formation flying

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Sat May 19, 2012 11:20 am

Standard SOP for formation cloud breaks.

Last thing you want to do is lose sight of the leader in cloud.

You can"t help but tighten even closer just before entering imc. I think it's survival mode kicking in.

As you can imagine in the uk, it's pretty standard on a daily basis
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by taxidriver » Sat May 19, 2012 9:21 pm

Ever read the story of follow my leader, can not recall the writer, but...he was watching a flock of birds doing an approach to land on the water with the leader coming in a bit low resulting in the formation hitting the reeds in the shallow water.....after big splashes, they made it clear to the leader that he has messed up. Goes to show that even the birds know how important it is to follow and trust the leader in formation flying!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Wildcat_003 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:29 pm

Hi Gerald....pm me.
Check yur 6...!!!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:37 pm

Wildcat_003 wrote:Hi Gerald....pm me.
Sent !!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by eitai2001 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:38 am

Hi Guys.

Everyone here seems to be talking about close formation ... but as mentioned, formation doesn't mean a hair width away from the other plane.
This has been a topic I have been interested in, and was going to ask after I got my PPL, but seeing as it is here now.

How would one go about training for loose formation? (Well at least my version/perception of it).
I want to learn to fly within relatively close proximity to a friend flying another plane (of course who had similar training). I am not talking about 2, or even 10m ... I mean like 50m or 100m within each other.

The reason, is I would like to be able to fly with more experienced pilot friends of mine on cross countries ... say for example Jhb - Durban or something like that. I personally would feel safer flying with a "buddy" down somewhere. This thought stemmed since before my x-country training, and although some of my "nerves" as to flying relatively long distance have been eased by training, I still think flying with a more knowledgeable buddy is always safer (Even if in two separate planes).

Now am I wrong in thinking this? Or at least, am I wrong in thinking loose formation flying with some training and understanding is safer than flying down together with the full separation that you normally would have to other aircraft?

How well does one need to be trained to fly 50m to 100m apart?

I know for certain I would not attempt close formation without a good amount of experience ... I am still doing my PPL, and am not exactly the best at perfectly maintaining where I am ... but perhaps the theory of it is similar to Scuba Diving ... if you descend/ascend without reference to your buddy, it is harder to maintain where you are (vertically and horizontally) in the vast area of Ocean vs if you are watching your buddy or dive master, you seem to always stay a similar distance to them. In any case, that isn't the question I am asking ... and I hope my actual question above makes sense ... I do want to plan an "air" trip with my friend sometime after I get my license, and want to learn what would be the safest way to do so.

When I was sitting as Pax in a formo flight to Swartkops airshow ... I tried doing what the PIC was doing ... i.e. Keeping position based on staring at your lead's wing tip (or at least that was what I tried to use as reference) ... and it was extremely confusing and disorientating ... I almost felt compelled to look around to see where I was going ... so I realise it takes immense concentration, and I give big ups to the guys that do it ... and they do it well!

I once watched this series on a bunch of pilots training to fly the F/A-18 for the Canadian Airforce, and they show the formation training ... and if I remember correctly, one of the pilots nearly stuffed it up ... was a very interesting show to see what they go through.

Regards

Itai
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by flysouth » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:35 pm

At 100m or even 50m apart it is not difficult to maintain formation. At such distances the changes in position relative to one another are far less noticeable and matter less in any case.

Personally I would say that you might simply go out with a buddy in separate aircraft after briefing - i.e. discussing exactly what you are trying to achieve and intending to do. Having briefed in detail all parties must adhere to that briefing throughout the exercise. The briefing must include actions to be taken in the event of unexpected events, not only the planned - for example what if engine troubles arise? - what if other traffic comes barging through your formation? What if someones radio fails? Know beforehand what procedures to adopt to avoid possible hazards posed by unexpected events.

Incidentally it is important before take off to ensure that everything in your aircraft is hunky-dory - no loose items lying on the seat or floor etc to distract you, when you notice them in flight and decide to stow them - in flight! Do all that before take off. I have seen this in real life where a formation member started wandering around in the formation - a call to him along the lines of 'WTF are you up to?" revealed that his fire extinguisher was rolling around on the floor and he was busy trying to clip it back into it's mounting!

Stay about 100 metres apart with the leader concentrating solely on flying his aircraft smoothly, not monitoring the wingman. The wingman should adopt an 'echelon right' position 100 metres behind and to the right of the leader at an angle between 20 and 45 degrees. This is a position which is fairly easy and comfortable to maintain.

Choose a fixed point on the lead aircraft and a fixed point on the windshield of the wingman aircraft - if necessary fix tape on the wing aircraft windshield as a reference point if there is no other available reference point.

Keeping those two points lined up laterally and vertically will help maintain formation - and as the wingman moves his aircraft around, laterally or vertically, it will be seen how those points change in relation to each other. Keeping those points static in relation to each other indicates that you are maintaining formation.

Obviously at a distance of 100 metres the points are less easy to see and to relate precisely to one another - there is a fudge factor, which will be seen to decrease as one moves in closer, until when quite close - say 10 mtrs and less - one needs to pay close and constant attention. Try moving in on the leader and back out from the leader, staying on the line adopted by keeping the points lined up laterally and vertically.

One major mistake I have noted is that the leader may take it upon himself to also 'fly formation'! In fact he needs to avoid trying to in any way maintain position - this is entirely the task of the wingman. When both leader and wingman are actively formating, there is chaos and danger.

The leader needs to fly his aircraft as smoothly as possible making gentle turns, climbs and descents etc, essentially ignoring the wingman. He will look out for other traffic, maintain necessary separation from other traffic in the sky and observe all airspace restrictions etc. He will handle all communications with other traffic, ASUs etc on behalf of the formation, It is legal and accepted practice to designate the formation with any name you choose and to use this in all communications after announcing to the ASU that you are leading a formation. The wingman does not handle any communications with entities outside the formation, except in an emergency, as discussed at briefing.

Internally mounted mirrors for the leader and indeed for others in a multi-aircraft formation are a very handy and useful accessory - these can be mounted conveniently in many aircraft to give some amount of reaward view. I have used small convex mirrors available from car parts shops - these can be adhesive mounted in some aircraft and later removed easily.

The wingman will focus all his attention on the leader at all times - the closer the formation the more critical this becomes of course. When stationed 100 metres apart this is less critical but at no time should the wingman's attention wander significantly from the leader. The closer the formation the less 'attention wandering' is permitted! In really close formation attention cannot wander even for a fraction of a second. In close formation you will find yourself working hard and being quite tired at the end of a session.

Getting used to loose formation in this way is a good way to self-train - holding station when wide apart and closer and noting and becoming accustomed to appreciating, controlling and adjusting closing speeds are key abilities which can only be gained through practice.

Have fun - fly safe!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by eitai2001 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 1:37 pm

flysouth wrote:At 100m or even 50m apart it is not difficult to maintain formation. At such distances the changes in position relative to one another are far less noticeable and matter less in any case.

Personally I would say that you might simply go out with a buddy in separate aircraft after briefing - i.e. discussing exactly what you are trying to achieve and intending to do. Having briefed in detail all parties must adhere to that briefing throughout the exercise. The briefing must include actions to be taken in the event of unexpected events, not only the planned - for example what if engine troubles arise? - what if other traffic comes barging through your formation? What if someones radio fails? Know beforehand what procedures to adopt to avoid possible hazards posed by unexpected events.

Incidentally it is important before take off to ensure that everything in your aircraft is hunky-dory - no loose items lying on the seat or floor etc to distract you, when you notice them in flight and decide to stow them - in flight! Do all that before take off. I have seen this in real life where a formation member started wandering around in the formation - a call to him along the lines of 'WTF are you up to?" revealed that his fire extinguisher was rolling around on the floor and he was busy trying to clip it back into it's mounting!

Stay about 100 metres apart with the leader concentrating solely on flying his aircraft smoothly, not monitoring the wingman. The wingman should adopt an 'echelon right' position 100 metres behind and to the right of the leader at an angle between 20 and 45 degrees. This is a position which is fairly easy and comfortable to maintain.

Choose a fixed point on the lead aircraft and a fixed point on the windshield of the wingman aircraft - if necessary fix tape on the wing aircraft windshield as a reference point if there is no other available reference point.

Keeping those two points lined up laterally and vertically will help maintain formation - and as the wingman moves his aircraft around, laterally or vertically, it will be seen how those points change in relation to each other. Keeping those points static in relation to each other indicates that you are maintaining formation.

Obviously at a distance of 100 metres the points are less easy to see and to relate precisely to one another - there is a fudge factor, which will be seen to decrease as one moves in closer, until when quite close - say 10 mtrs and less - one needs to pay close and constant attention. Try moving in on the leader and back out from the leader, staying on the line adopted by keeping the points lined up laterally and vertically.

One major mistake I have noted is that the leader may take it upon himself to also 'fly formation'! In fact he needs to avoid trying to in any way maintain position - this is entirely the task of the wingman. When both leader and wingman are actively formating, there is chaos and danger.

The leader needs to fly his aircraft as smoothly as possible making gentle turns, climbs and descents etc, essentially ignoring the wingman. He will look out for other traffic, maintain necessary separation from other traffic in the sky and observe all airspace restrictions etc. He will handle all communications with other traffic, ASUs etc on behalf of the formation, It is legal and accepted practice to designate the formation with any name you choose and to use this in all communications after announcing to the ASU that you are leading a formation. The wingman does not handle any communications with entities outside the formation, except in an emergency, as discussed at briefing.

Internally mounted mirrors for the leader and indeed for others in a multi-aircraft formation are a very handy and useful accessory - these can be mounted conveniently in many aircraft to give some amount of reaward view. I have used small convex mirrors available from car parts shops - these can be adhesive mounted in some aircraft and later removed easily.

The wingman will focus all his attention on the leader at all times - the closer the formation the more critical this becomes of course. When stationed 100 metres apart this is less critical but at no time should the wingman's attention wander significantly from the leader. The closer the formation the less 'attention wandering' is permitted! In really close formation attention cannot wander even for a fraction of a second. In close formation you will find yourself working hard and being quite tired at the end of a session.

Getting used to loose formation in this way is a good way to self-train - holding station when wide apart and closer and noting and becoming accustomed to appreciating, controlling and adjusting closing speeds are key abilities which can only be gained through practice.

Have fun - fly safe!
Thanks for the extremely comprehensive answer flysouth, it is much appreciated.

Lot's to learn from your post, and lot's of places to branch out and discover further information before attempting anything one day ... but a brilliant starting point to begin learning.

I suppose the only real way to know what to discuss in the pre-flight briefing is to sit in and listen to the pre-flight briefing of experienced Formation guys ... because what you have said is a starting point, but even for those ... I can't imagine all the correct things one may do.

But I may just do that ... ask the Toybox guys and Warbird Formation guys if I can sit in and listen to pre-flight briefs and post-flight debriefs ... of course I can only learn from that :)

And anyone else reading this thread that has misread it's purpose ... don't worry, I'm not planning on performing like a blue angel any time soon, and will do a fair bit of research before even a loose formation ;)
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Darrell Lush » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:04 pm

Just for information purposes. The new Civil Aviation Act 2009 and published in June 2012 defines formation flying as follows :

means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by eitai2001 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:58 pm

Darrell Lush wrote:Just for information purposes. The new Civil Aviation Act 2009 and published in June 2012 defines formation flying as follows :

means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;
Hi DL, thanks for the info ... does that mean one requires a rating then to fly "Formo" as defined?
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:36 pm

Darrell Lush wrote:Just for information purposes. The new Civil Aviation Act 2009 and published in June 2012 defines formation flying as follows :

means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;
Same way, same day ! :D :D
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Darrell Lush » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:18 pm

eitai2001 wrote:
Darrell Lush wrote:Just for information purposes. The new Civil Aviation Act 2009 and published in June 2012 defines formation flying as follows :

means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;
Hi DL, thanks for the info ... does that mean one requires a rating then to fly "Formo" as defined?
Sorry Eitai...I only saw your question now. No.... one does not need a rating to fly formation. The rating only becomes a requirement when doing display formations, ie in front of crowds at airshows etc. Having said that, it is a legal requirement to request a pilot's permission to formate on his aircraft. Again this is a pretty stupid thing to do. A formation flight takes more than just calling your buddy up on 123.45 and starting a formation. It takes proper briefing, practice and a lot of other hoops to jump through before becoming a "formation pilot"
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ryan Beeton » Sat Sep 29, 2012 10:20 am

eitai2001 wrote:
I suppose the only real way to know what to discuss in the pre-flight briefing is to sit in and listen to the pre-flight briefing of experienced Formation guys ... because what you have said is a starting point, but even for those ... I can't imagine all the correct things one may do.

But I may just do that ... ask the Toybox guys and Warbird Formation guys if I can sit in and listen to pre-flight briefs and post-flight debriefs ... of course I can only learn from that :)

And anyone else reading this thread that has misread it's purpose ... don't worry, I'm not planning on performing like a blue angel any time soon, and will do a fair bit of research before even a loose formation ;)
Hi Itai

We have started an RV formation team and have an awesome instructor with great experience and some exceptional wingmen - being SAA senior Captains - definitely esteemed company that make learning so great. I have your details and will give you a shout when we go out again - you can hop in to one of the empty seats.

Best

Ryan
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by eitai2001 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:46 pm

Darrell Lush wrote:
eitai2001 wrote:
Darrell Lush wrote:Just for information purposes. The new Civil Aviation Act 2009 and published in June 2012 defines formation flying as follows :

means two or more aircraft flying in the same general direction at a distance
not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from
each other;
Hi DL, thanks for the info ... does that mean one requires a rating then to fly "Formo" as defined?
Sorry Eitai...I only saw your question now. No.... one does not need a rating to fly formation. The rating only becomes a requirement when doing display formations, ie in front of crowds at airshows etc. Having said that, it is a legal requirement to request a pilot's permission to formate on his aircraft. Again this is a pretty stupid thing to do. A formation flight takes more than just calling your buddy up on 123.45 and starting a formation. It takes proper briefing, practice and a lot of other hoops to jump through before becoming a "formation pilot"
Thanks for the info. I agree with you in that you can't just call your buddy up, you need to be prepared for what is coming. I flew very loose formation with a friend of mine a few weeks ago. We discussed on the ground how we would go about it, and what we would do in some situations. I think we kept it relatively safe, I kept my eyes glued to him with him flying as lead. We were quite far apart though, maybe about 50 - 100m. But I saw how quickly you can creep out of you don't keep check, but when I saw that happening, I just turned away from him in case. Definitely needs some sort of basic training/understanding, thereafter a lot of briefing and experience before you get closer.
Ryan Beeton wrote:Hi Itai

We have started an RV formation team and have an awesome instructor with great experience and some exceptional wingmen - being SAA senior Captains - definitely esteemed company that make learning so great. I have your details and will give you a shout when we go out again - you can hop in to one of the empty seats.

Best

Ryan
Thanks Ryan, that's very much appreciated :) ...
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by eitai2001 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:05 pm

Just want to say thank to Ryan for inviting me to the talk ... it was very interesting. I am looking forward to the next follow up meeting :)
And it was great to meet all these new faces today :)

Learnt some really interesting stuff on formation flying.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by happyskipper » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:05 pm

I think it's great that young (experience-wise) pilots want to get involved in more advanced flying, and formo will certainly teach you the finer points of flying an aircraft properly. However, I doubt that it would be safer for you to fly formo on a x-country than to do all the proper pre-flight and nav planning the day before, and get it checked by a buddy who is going the same way, the same day......(15 mins apart). You should be busy honing your nav and map-reading skills at this point, not concentrating on flying formo with your buddy. That comes later, once you are comfortable with doing your own thing, solo....... :wink:

Otherwise, give it stick, and continue to learn throughout your flying career........ =D>
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