Formation Flying

Rook

And shepherds we shall be
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Hey guys,

Regional driver hoping for a UPT slot just had a question about formation flying. I've read that this is where most guys have difficulty and wash out. I just wanted to know what the hardest part of formation flying is. Besides not running into the other guy.

Thanks,
Rook

600' AGL Autopilot on
'WHEW!'
 

AlbieF15

F15 Ret/FDX/InterviewPrep
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Hardest part is hard to quantify, but visualizing the lead aircrafts plane of motion and making small corrections are skills that seem to have to be developed with practice.

If you are already wealthy, the T-34 club can teach you some basic skills. A cheaper and effective way to warm up your hands is take a soaring lesson or two....yes.....soaring. The "boxing the wake" exercises you do behind the tow plane give you a bit of practice learning the new skills.

Standard advise for UPT guys also appllies. Shut up, work hard, and do what they tell you. There are not any better IPs than the UPT IPs who train you to go from streetwalker to T38 instrument/formation competent pilot in 52 weeks. Work hard and listen and you will do fine.

Albie
 

Mud Eagle

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AlbieF15 said:
There are not any better IPs than the UPT IPs who train you to go from streetwalker to T38 instrument/formation competent pilot in 52 weeks.
Maybe I need to re-think that ALFA tour business if they're training streetwalkers these days. I can't imagine what they might do for you if the *really needed* to pass that critical 89 ride.
 

Toro

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Like Albie said, you can't really nail it down to one thing. Seeing guys come through 38s for three years at Columbus, I can tell you that it generally wasn't one thing in general - most guys tended to have a problem with one particular area -

1 - Precision flying - All the close in stuff that requires 'good hands' - fingertip, close trail, etc. This is a general problem with most everyone when they get to the 38 because it's very sensitive to stick and throttle inputs and guys coming from the sluggish T-37 tend to overcontrol. Most dudes get over this by the first or second phase of formation.

2 - Tactical formation - this is where many guys have a problem, but it's something that (unfortunately) is dismissed by instructors. A guy's ability to be able to fly straight and level 6000 foot line abreast is critical, and most UPT students have a lot of trouble doing that. Unfortunately, IPs overlook this and send them on to IFF/FTU where they can fly BFM, but they can't do the basics.

3 - Fluid maneuvering - I don't mean strictly the T-37 version of 'fighting wing', I mean being able to maneuver in a fluid fashion in relation to your flight lead. This includes turning rejoins, fighting wing or fluid formation, and BFM. With the exception of rejoins (which are relatively easy) this is something that guys can have a problem with at UPT and still pass - it's IFF and FTU where this will start to hurt them.

Don't worry about washing out. Formation is a lot of work, but it's also a great time. Don't sweat it and you'll do fine.
 

FresnoFighter

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You can always get some computer sims and practice on those. Just to increase you hand-eye cordination skills.
 

AlbieF15

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Comparing flying any computer game to formation flying is like comparing masturbation with a soft porn magazine to having sex with real live sorority girl on a weekend retreat.

Computers are great for many things, including gathering interview gouge, meeting other pilots, and learning great places to fly. They have some utility for teaching basic flying and instruments, and some utility in the tactical world for intercepts and long range employment. They are worthless for teaching formation flying, BFM, or anything that involves feedback from the jet in the form of airflow noise, buffet levels, or general "feel".

By the way, our 4th generation, 360 degree, panaramic F15 sims are also useless for teaching close formation. No sim can provide the amount of feedback required to master basic formation. While it is true we fly tactical formation in the sim, even the fidelity of that can be called into question.

Just one old school guy's opinion.

Albie
 

FresnoFighter

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I surely didn't recommend using Computer Sims for "master basic formation." It's just a tool that you can work on your cordination. Since I haven't been to UPT/Pilot training yet, I don't know. But it sure will help a person.
 

Draginass

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I don't remember anybody washing out of formation phase. If you get that far, you've probably got it almost made.
 

Squirrely

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I'll speak as a current T-37 UPT instructor & flight commander... Formation is the last block of training, so if you make it to formation phase, 99.9% of the time you will make it through T-37s. If you make it through T-37s, you will most ikely get your wings.

For me, formation is the primary place where your follow-on is determined. If you suck at formation by the time you reach your checkride, there is no way I would send you to T-38s, no matter how well you did in contact and instruments. Also, some guys find during formation training that the heavy business is more thier speed.

What I actually look for in the formation phase is a student's ability to pick up the skills quickly, then I am reasonably certain they will do OK in the T-38, and in the real-world fighter business.

I could teach my grandmother to fly formation given an infinite timeline, but the key to flying a pointy-nose airplane is to pick things up quickly.
 

Spur

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I concur with squirly that if you've made it to the form phase, odds are you will make it through T-37s, although it has and will happen that studs wash out in the form phase.

As far as what is the hardest part of formation. For me its' stayin alive on F2103 when all the IP demos are done and you finally have to let the dude in the left seat fly while you verbally try to keep him from killing all four of you, even though he only fluent in 10 words of english ("closure" is not one of them), and you sure as hell dont speak whatever language they use in whatever country he's from...

But seriously, I think it's impossible to say what the hardest part of form is. Really it's different for every person. Leading, fingertip, fluid manuevering, rejoins, etc.. all require the use of different mental and physical skills. You'll just have to wait and see what is the most challenging for you.

One interesting thing I've noticed over the past few years has been the lack of a correllation between a students contact performance, and his formation performance. Often times we are quite surprised at how the studs we thought would be the worst at form, turn out to be pretty good, and guys we though would ace it have quite a few problems...
 

RichO

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enough
Formation

From what I remember in the -37, formation, the 1st and 2nd ride...I think the plane took off without me.....but everyone kept saying, it will just kick in one day....and sure enough, it did, and what a blast....I loved formation.....now days, it's a little further apart......
 
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