Formation flying

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BONNIE MAD
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Formation flying

Unread post by BONNIE MAD » Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:44 am

Can any of the GURU"S give us a lesson on the procedures for formation flying.
Who follows who, how do you know how much bank lead is going to do, pitfalls and all interesting info
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by dbg » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:11 am

BONNIE MAD wrote:Can any of the GURU"S give us a lesson on the procedures for formation flying.
Who follows who, how do you know how much bank lead is going to do, pitfalls and all interesting info
I'd like to know where one can go for some formal (or informal?) training for formation flying. Nothing too serious, no overlap, no "see the whites of their eyes" action, just the basics of keeping station, joining and breaking formation, airmanship and so forth.
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StressMerchant
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by StressMerchant » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:30 am

I'm no guru, very much a beginner, but here's my route.

I started by getting hold of some of the available videos on the subject - at least gives you an idea of what's going on. Shortly afterwards there was a theory course arranged at EAA at Rand - was also good, although I would emphasise that these are theoretical. What it does highlight is the idea that formation flying is actually a very structured exercise. The gurus make it look simple because they have a good grounding in the basic stuff.

I was then fortunate enough to get mentoring from some very good people. The first practical can be very scary - but at least from the theory background I had some structure, and understood a lot of the "why". The actual flying - all I can say is that it needs practice, and a good mentor is essential.

I was also fortunate enough to be involved on the fringes of the airshow circuit, so I got to do a lot of formation ferry flying. Not very exciting, but very nice for settling into basic station keeping and procedures.

At one stage the Yak guys arranged an annual course down in Durban. I never attended, but the people who did always had good things to say about it.

So in summary, there is a lot that you can gain from videos and notes off the Net, BUT you definitely need a good mentor and practical sessions.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by dbg » Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:43 am

StressMerchant wrote:BUT you definitely need a good mentor and practical sessions.
That is the difficult bit, especially if you are a hire-and-fly guy.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by nugpot » Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:12 pm

dbg wrote:
BONNIE MAD wrote:Can any of the GURU"S give us a lesson on the procedures for formation flying.
Who follows who, how do you know how much bank lead is going to do, pitfalls and all interesting info
I'd like to know where one can go for some formal (or informal?) training for formation flying. Nothing too serious, no overlap, no "see the whites of their eyes" action, just the basics of keeping station, joining and breaking formation, airmanship and so forth.
I am quite happy to get involved at FASH in some informal ground discussions about the basics of formo, as long as it is understood that I am NOT an instructor, that this will not be a "course" in any way, shape or form and that my involvement will cease at engine start.

I have some SAAF formation experience, and although it was a while ago, I believe that it is something best attempted with as much information as possible and the best possible detailed briefing before you go and fly. There are others much better for this than me, but I don't know if they will get involved.

If you can get any of the formation display guys, you will be in a much better position. Another name that comes to mind is Johan (Geronkie) Venter, who was involved in the Yak exercise and now visits CPT on a regular basis while helping out with the SAX schedule in CPT.
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Ryan Beeton
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ryan Beeton » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:01 pm

I flew my first one to Zebula last week with an exceptionally experienced Formo Pilot - and it is incredibly difficult first time round! To fly staring at someone's wingtip and not watch where you are going is so against the grain - it really takes getting used too.

Your pre flight briefing is crucial!

Trust your leader! You need utmost trust in him/her that they will fly safely

AND

they must trust you that you will not fly into them.

Very difficult, but equally rewarding once you wax it!

Safe flying!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Marty » Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:16 pm

There is quite a bit of info on the net, attached is a structured document which outlines procedures and has some interesting info.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by FastMover » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:20 pm

:mrgreen:
Last edited by FastMover on Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:46 pm

I am appalled at the tone of much of the advice offered on this thread.

Guys, formation flying is not something you pick up off a forum, or by reading a couple or articles, or by attending a briefing or two, or even by flying with your mate who is "quite good" at it. That's like attempting weekend brain surgery after a quiet chat with your doctor. Only it's a hell of a lot more dangerous. The attempted brain surgery is only likely to kill one person. With home brewed formo you are likely to kill everyone in both aircraft.

Yep, I know, bloody fun-police spoiling our enjoyment.

Remember that thread about the Caravan and the 206 (I think it was) that clobbered each other in Canada? And a couple of folks took shots at me for saying they were playing Snoopy and The Red Baron. I have absolutely no doubt that that is what happened - untrained formo. Home brewed brain surgery.

Folks if you want to do it then get hold of a formo-trained instructor - preferably an ex-military guy, because they are professionally trained, and have spent many hours practicing formo - and get proper training. On the ground briefings are essential - there is little more dangerous than impromptu formo.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ray W » Tue Apr 17, 2012 3:50 pm

Well said Mr Davis.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by nugpot » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:06 pm

Jim, that would be exactly where I was going with an informal ground discussion. The idea would be to cover the dangers and basic principles and the importance of getting trained by the knowledgeable.

Just telling people they need training via Avcom has not really gotten results. I have made a commitment to myself to get more involved in pointing out the obvious and obscure of the different aspects of aviation which I know. I am not an instructor, so I find that I can connect on a different level with GA pilots. I have not had a lot of feedback after my talk at CFTC, but the bit I did get was positive and I hope to build on that platform and get the old "SAAF pub" culture a bit more exposure in the Cape Town area. The idea would be to talk much more informally about flying, training and planning and let the pilots decide for themselves in which area they would like to acquire more skills and information.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:20 pm

nugpot wrote:Jim, that would be exactly where I was going with an informal ground discussion. The idea would be to cover the dangers and basic principles and the importance of getting trained by the knowledgeable.

Just telling people they need training via Avcom has not really gotten results. I have made a commitment to myself to get more involved in pointing out the obvious and obscure of the different aspects of aviation which I know. I am not an instructor, so I find that I can connect on a different level with GA pilots. I have not had a lot of feedback after my talk at CFTC, but the bit I did get was positive and I hope to build on that platform and get the old "SAAF pub" culture a bit more exposure in the Cape Town area. The idea would be to talk much more informally about flying, training and planning and let the pilots decide for themselves in which area they would like to acquire more skills and information.
I'm with you, Nuggers. And I particularly like the thought of encouraging the old SAAF pub culture, or old civvi flying club culture. I think both had a very positive effect on safety. And both have largely disappeared - very sad, and probably very dangerous in the long run.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ryan Beeton » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:40 pm

jimdavis wrote:I am appalled at the tone of much of the advice offered on this thread.

Guys, formation flying is not something you pick up off a forum, or by reading a couple or articles, or by attending a briefing or two, or even by flying with your mate who is "quite good" at it. That's like attempting weekend brain surgery after a quiet chat with your doctor. Only it's a hell of a lot more dangerous. The attempted brain surgery is only likely to kill one person. With home brewed formo you are likely to kill everyone in both aircraft.

Folks if you want to do it then get hold of a formo-trained instructor - preferably an ex-military guy, because they are professionally trained, and have spent many hours practicing formo - and get proper training. On the ground briefings are essential - there is little more dangerous than impromptu formo.

Jim
Good post Jim.

If the reference was made to mine about "flying with my mate who is quite good at it" - I can assure you that:

1) The said mate "who is quite good at it" is in fact one of the country's top pilots who instructs and is a DFE. He instructs aerobatics and formations and is often involved in organized air shows flying formations in Harvards, Yaks, Extras, RV's and larger ships.
2) The ground briefing was incredibly in depth - and left no aspect uncovered at all.
3) The flight was used as a logged exercise with further training to come and was not a "hey, lets fly next to each other all the way to Zebula" adhoc flight.
4) The exercise in Practical was incredibly difficult to do and I can assure you that I was blasted to pieces over the Ops Frequency :oops: :oops: :oops: to get up to speed and do it right!
5) The sensation of flying with total trust and not watching your direction is mind boggling and uncomfortable - BUT if one is going to fly in formation this is crucial.

In no way would I ever advocate leaving an airfield with "a mate" and flying in formation for 40 odd minutes. This would be suicide!!!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

In all aspects of my life, I surround myself with the people who are the best at their profession and role model these traits. Aviation is a passionate hobby of mine that I want to take to the highest level of my abilities and time constraints - I believe I am learning from one of the top 10 aerobatic, formation pilot & ATP pilots the country is blessed to have.

I can assure you Jim, that every time I step in to an airplane as a passenger, co pilot or PIC, I am very mindful of the fact that I have a young family to support and have many years of school fees and university fees ahead of me that I am responsible for - completing safe flights is of the utmost priority AND if the risks are explained up front, accounted for and managed, then I believe I have the right mindset to be safe in Aviation.

Best

Ryan
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:47 pm

Sorry Ryan - you got caught in the cross-fire. That wasn't directed at you, or anyone in particular. I know it is something that happens and I was just saying generally - DON'T :D

Jim
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Darrell Lush » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:16 pm

Hey Jim we agree with each other again :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: ....hope the effects of the cheap red wine have worn off and I'm not looking blurred.

I have major issues with the way formation training is done in SA. Formation instruction should only be conducted by an experienced formation pilot/instructor. Flying in formation with your PPL buddy just does not cut it.

The type of instructors I refer to are the likes of Geronkie, Pierre Gouws, Laurie Kaye etc. A few of us have had the extreme honour of formation training with members of the Red Arrows....enough said. I wear my formation training badge with pride in this regard.

I have done several formation courses including the Yak week down in Durban as well as the EAA "formation course" which to my mind leaves a lot to be desired. Stress Merchant did express the fact that the EAA course is purely a theoretical one but unfortunately the opening line of the course is, "I will get you comfortable with flying formation." With a zero practical element, this course does very little to prepare one for the rigours of formation flying that can't be done by reading books on the subject. Proper, safe formation flying takes hours of physical practice...end of story. Its easy to learn the hand signals and procedures etc etc, but nothing comes close to practice, practice, practice with a qualified instructor, not your PPL buddy who just happens to fly every weekend.
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