Formation Flight Essentials

By Martin "Foxy" Molinaro & Timothy" "Camel" Reynolds



Within this piece we are going to discuss all instructional information from the pilots view how to fly formation and get the simulated pilot started. Given you have a solid platform to start flying with, the next step is to understand formation flight. 

          Formation flight consists of a flight lead and a wing man or multiple planes flying within close relative position called the “box”. When a successful formation is achieved the aircraft look to be flying as one. The flight lead takes the position to understand the demonstration while being mindful of the pilots under his wing. The wing men fly their aircraft within relative position maintaining symmetrical formation consistently.

The skills required from all aviators takes time to master. Chasing the end result can be at times very daunting. The formation pilot must first set in the mind dedication to practice no matter how hard or challenging. Your dedication level should never be compromised. With that, to further improve yourself you must be able to take constructive criticism and stay honest with yourself. 

Understanding your aircraft and “feeling” the aerodynamic characteristic of the aircraft takes time. When strapping on the controls you must know the aircraft as if its an extension of your mind, body and soul. The aircraft you chose to fly should be flown at a skill level you can handle. All pilots recommend that you start with a trainer aircraft, not a supersonic jet to start with. Power management is half of the challenge so this being said having more thrust than you can manage will ultimately lead to more struggles adding frustration and slowing your progression.

When setting the goal to enter the formation realm of flight you must be patient. Don’t set unrealistic goals and allow yourself to enjoy what your learning. Many people who have mastered formation and fly within successful teams have spent years studying and practicing. Muscle memory forms within time and is not something that is easily learned. This subject area is expansive and covers the most advanced type of aviator skills. The pilots who have put this project together to teach you this subject have over 10 years each flying as formation pilots within simulator platforms.

This series is not meant to be a real-world training program, nor is it intended to replace any instructional schools regulated by the FAA. This is for the simulated aviator who wants to enter the virtual world of formation flight. This flight series is built and designed for the entry level simulated aviator. If you consider yourself an advanced formation pilot you may just enjoy this series so sit back and enjoy.

Formation Flight Video Series

Video 1 The Basics– Airmanship, knowing your aircraft, setting up flight controls, situation awareness, understanding the dangers involved flying in close proximity to other aircraft, having an exit plan, when to clear out of formation, & flight communication understanding.

Video 2 Formation Fundamentals – Throttle management, sight lines and viewpoints, flight control management, studying position, concentration and focus, how to buffer pilot induced osculation, roll rates, pull rates, transitioning from position-to-position.

Video 3 Aerobatics Advanced Series – Instructional maneuvers, loops, rolls, wing overs, rejoins, safe communication-timing, situational awareness, as well as how and when to clear from formation.

Video 4 Bringing it all together – How to take all that you have learned and entering a formation team. Formation changes, managing a team, constructive criticism, improving muscle memory, trusting other pilots, evaluating performance, understanding improvement areas, flying specific aircraft types, communication requirements


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