Formation flying

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Ger
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:24 pm

But it was aimed at at the likes of me, for having the sheer gall to disagree about your snoopy and red baron theory. (I still stand by that too jim, Your theory indicated tail chasing or dog fighting, not formation flying)

I do have some experience on this matter and used to organise the course in FAVG with SAAf and RAF pilots.
All who attended came away with theoretical and practical training from some of the best in the world.

I also have to say I was at a loss for words when I saw a theory only course held up in J'Burg.
A case of handing a loaded gun to a child in my opinion!!

If you're serious about doing it, then get hold of some SAAF guys and organise a week long course using correct SOP's at an airfield that understand and will allow such flying.

Do it your own way and chances are you will die.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:59 pm

No, Gerald, really nothing personal. :D .

I refer to any unplanned stuffing around in close proximity to another aircraft as Snoopy and the Red Baron behaviour. Actually it sounded exactly like that. I got the impression that he was trying to surprise her by diving past her - perhaps out of the sun exactly like the Red Baron.

Apart from that, it is just and expression to grab people's attention and emphasise out how dangerous unplanned flying close to anther aircraft is. Often an explanation that is too clinical simply misses the audience, so one has to use red flags.

But I know you know all this, Gerald, and I am sure we are both on the same side of the fence.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:05 am

Thank you for your explanation Jim.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Chebe » Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:22 pm

Thank you Jim and Darrell for excellent commentary and advice.

Formation flying is extremely rewarding and also extremely dangerous. Just over a year ago i trained the Wilderness Air pilots in MAUN for the name change function and flypast in C206's. Whe did five training sorties of nearly two hours long to prepare safely for a fourship diamond flypast which lasted one minute. (See the article in African Pilot April 2011)

Many pilots in town laughed at us saying "you can see there is a jetty involved, cause they spend hours briefing for one hours flight". Let me assure you that formation flying is probably the most difficult part of all flying exercises and requires systematic organised training and a level of concentration unknown to most. It can also be the most rewarding if approached correctly.

It requires a very high level of self discipline and airmanship. It brings finess into one piloting skills and teaches you to fly with two fingers. It cannot be tought over the internet or in books and most definately not by another inexperienced pilot mate who happened to illegaly fly formo on his mate's aircraft without colliding. Remember that the sequence of instruction and for that matter all learning processes goes as follows:

1. Theory.
2. Applied Theory.
3. Briefing.
4. Demonstration.
5. Practice by Student.
6. De Briefing

If you skip any of the steps the learning process is deficient and you are making the hole in the cheese in the sense that the make-up of the pilot you train will be incomplete and lacking. An accident waiting to happen!

Watch the press in the next month or two for information on professional training courses of a range of advanced flying aspects such as formation flying and the like. If you are very interested send me a PM.

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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by dbg » Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:03 pm

Chebe wrote: Watch the press in the next month or two for information on professional training courses of a range of advanced flying aspects such as formation flying and the like. If you are very interested send me a PM.
Hi.

Great post!

Where will these training courses be held? Will you have to supply your own aircraft? How much flying experience is required?

Regards.


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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by John Miller » Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:31 am

The Yak course I went to write up and photograph was a fantastic experience for me. It was very focused on the ultimate goal of forming an air show display sequence and was very type-specific as well as being professionally run and a lot of fun too.

I would love to help with a formation course on photography as this is perhaps where most pilots will encounter flying in close proximity to another aeroplane. Many of our best pilots struggle to grasp the essentials of flying for photography because their only point of reference is from military training, which has entirely different goals and some conflicting principles. It also involves dissimilar aircraft.

Another thing I have discovered over the years is that not all seemingly experienced civilian pilots have the 'hands' to fly formation. There are even those in the air display circuit who would benefit from some solid formation training too as inevitably they indulge in formation flying for pictures. :wink:
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by flysouth » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:32 am

Whilst I appreciate and would agree with Jim's viewpoint on learning to fly formation, I was part of a (non-aerobatic) formation that used to appear at many airshows in SA over 2 - 3 years in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

We had to teach ourselves mostly since there was no other way at that time.

However we obtained material from various sources in the form of briefing notes etc from various airforces which were extremely helpful. These were invaluable in providing the structure of the training we needed.

We also were fortunate to be able to discuss matters with an ex-SAAF pilot who was widely experienced in formation flying, both in the SAAF and in civvy life - he was a member of the Winfield Pitts team along with Scully Levin.

We had no trouble or incidents during the initial self-training but that I think was because we approached it very,very seriously and cautiously being aware of the risks. This all took place over many months before we felt confident in our abilities.

We did have occasion to ask one pilot to leave our formation team after it became apparent that he just could not hack it - after many weeks of trying he still could not judge closing speed etc.

Close formation is definitely a specialised discipline requiring a disciplined approach at all times. If decent training is available today then go for it. But beware the 'armchair' trainer who has not actually flown a lot of formo - I do not think that will help at all!
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by happyskipper » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:29 pm

I agree with Jim and DL. This is not something to be undertaken lightly.

In fact I find that the general attitude towards flying these days is one of, "well it can't be THAT difficult - look at these old farts that get it right....."

Well, those old farts learned from the best, who probably INVENTED the thing in the first place....

I reckon it's all about MINDSET, and that the newer pilots these days just do not have the right mindset. I was fortunate to have a mentor (my father) who taught me to fly as soon as I could ride a bicycle..... and went on to have instruction by some of the top SAAF instructors in the 80's and 90's.

When I did do some airshow formation flying it was done with other SAAF - trained and mentored pilots, and it was great fun....... but still, hard work!!

I think that part of the problem is that the older guys make it look so easy, because they worked hard to perfect the art of flying, and that lulls the newcomer into thinking that it is easy to do, so that they think, "heck, lets teach ourselves......"
Last edited by happyskipper on Tue May 01, 2012 12:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:24 pm

It all rather depends on how you define formation flying. If you mean two aircraft flying on the same 1:1000,000 then it doesn't take too much training.

But as formo gets tighter two, almost contradictory, things happen - strangely, it gets easier to hold station, but you need more skill and training to do it safely.

Jim
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by happyskipper » Tue May 01, 2012 12:15 pm

Good point Jim, and yes, there are varying levels of formation flying, from flying in a loose formation up to "Blue Angels" style formo aerobatics.

However it is all still formation flying, and should be pre-planned and briefed accordingly.......

My definition of Formation flying would be any two (or more) aircraft flying in closer proximity than allowed by normal VFR separation rules. (They are VFR, aren't they......?)
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Tue May 01, 2012 12:25 pm

happyskipper wrote:normal VFR separation rules. (They are VFR, aren't they......?)
Not necessarily. Military pilots do formo in cloud quite happily.

Jim
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by happyskipper » Tue May 01, 2012 12:45 pm

Sure they do, but that's 'cause their lives may depend upon that skill one day...... I was referring to "display" or civvy formo flying.... :wink:

I flew from FAGM to FDMS in formo once with the Navion team, years ago, and found it very educational, not to mention very tiring for that length of time.... :shock:
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by taxidriver » Fri May 18, 2012 10:24 pm

Just a remark on ex military, come on Jim, it is SAAF?
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by Ger » Fri May 18, 2012 11:44 pm

taxidriver wrote:Just a remark on ex military, come on Jim, it is SAAF?
????
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Re: Formation flying

Unread post by jimdavis » Sat May 19, 2012 10:10 am

taxidriver wrote:Just a remark on ex military, come on Jim, it is SAAF?
Certainly it is SAAF. I remember a bunch of Bosboks, or perhaps Kudus coming into George. They were above the tops at about 8000', and the base was low, and they were all short of gas. No time for individual ledowns. ATC told them to get in formo and he talked the leader down using VDF (VHF Direction Finding) while the rest stuck to him like glue. It worked fine.

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