I managed to dig up this from years gone by. Perhaps it is relevant to bring it forward again, and perhaps have somebody to give a talk on the subject, perhaps as a title to a talk at a flight school or at a safety meeting?
An article in one of our glossy aviation magazines mentioned the fact that we have so many aerobatic capable NTC Aircraft on the register now and asked the question if we as pilots of such aircraft know the regulations regarding aerobatics in SA.
This led me to think that as owners of our little 'prides and joy' would love to have a picture of 'me and my aerie' shot in flight. The need to know a bit about flying in formation, the procedures, the briefings etc then becomes relevant. Suddenly we find we know nothing and we need to learn more to become safer pilots.
Am I correct that a special rating is not needed, except if flying in a formation as a display where one needs a display rating as well. What does CAA define as a formation flight? What does the insurance companies have to say about formation flying? Can a pilot do a coarse and have a signature in his logbook that he attended a lecture and partook in a training flight? (Much the same as volunteer jump-ship pilot)
This topic was discussed in 2012, here is one of the answers:
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!