Maintenance Item #13
*** Formation Flying ***
Although this is certainly not a maintenance item, I feel it is a
topic that many members will find interesting.
Formation flying can be done safely and without stress. The following is
based on material I have collected over the years and from my personal
experience. The secret to formation
flying without stress is proper
The flight leader has a contract to fulfill with those flying off
his wing. #1, he is the forward-looking eyes.
No one else is responsible for spotting traffic. #2, he navigates and holds a constant
heading. #3, he sets the altitude and
holds it solid, trims the aircraft for hands-off flight. #4, he also
The in trail, diamond, line abreast, Vee
and fingertip formations are too demanding, so lets
fly the step down echelon on our leader.
To make this easy in our Vargas, place a 2 inch length of electrical tape
on the inside of the windshield (both sides) three inches forward of the aft
edge and eighteen inches up from the bottom.
Now when you form up on the leader, position your aircraft so the flight
leader's plane is just above and the same length as the tape on your
windshield. Now you are approximately
200' outside of the leader and 100' below him.
Now adjust power and keep the leader in position above your window
marker. The wingman's contract is, #l,
he is to trim his aircraft for level flight, relax but keep a watchful eye on
the aircraft he is formed upon. #2, he
must be prepared to make frequent, small adjustments in the power setting. #3, the last plane in the formation controls
the leader's power setting to prevent the formation from stringing out. Once the flight has formed up, the speed can
be increased until the leader is just short of his normal cruising RPM. We never talk about MPH because speed
indicators are not as accurate as tachometers tend to be. Normal
Once all have made the turn, T.E.C. will tell the leader to up his power.
That's all there is to it. Why not get a Varga friend and fly somewhere together. My only other advice is to never fly formation unless the flight has been thoroughly discussed on the ground and all details have been worked out and thoroughly understood.