Air Combat Maneuvering
As in any tactical flying, safety is paramount because of the ever-present potential for an incident.
But just as you learned in TacForm, flying only with safety on your mind prevents you from achieving
the level of proficiency necessary to be a competent tactical aviator. Safety is the natural and
number one by-product of operational proficiency. Complete knowledge coupled with thorough
preparation and continuous practice provides the cornerstones to achieving operational proficiency
The following specific areas will go a long way in making you a safe and effective tactical jet pilot:
RELATIVE MOTION/EXCESSIVE CLOSURE
All midair collisions are a result of pilots failing to recognize constant bearing and decreasing range
until it is too late to take evasive action. Until now, all your flying in close proximity to other aircraft
has been static, and rates of change have always been tightly controlled. This will not be the case in
the rest of your tactical flying, especially during the snap guns exercise as you are maneuvering very
close to the 500-ft bubble and during the horizontal scissors as you cross the bandits flight path.
Spatial awareness is the ability to project the flight paths of your aircraft and other aircraft in relation
to each other. Your ability to develop spatial awareness combined with a complete understanding of
your aircrafts capabilities will prevent a midair collision. Situational awareness goes beyond spatial
awareness and allows you to anticipate situations that may lend themselves to midair collisions. You
need to exercise both situational and spatial awareness anytime you maneuver for a head-on pass,
whether it be during 1 v 1 neutral starts or during an engagement. If you fail to call the pass, the
instructor may have to call it for you.
During 2 v 1 maneuvering, you need to be especially aware of the possibility for a midair during rear-
quarter attacks when you are a solo free fighter and you end up turning back too early directly into
the fight. Another situation similar to 1 v 1 is after the bandit has switched from the engaged fighter
to you as a free fighter and you fail to call the head-on pass. In the case of a visual forward-quarter
attack, if you are a free fighter and you are aligning for a rear-quarter shot but you delayed your
counterflow turn, the potential exists for a midair with your wingman.
Just as you learned in CQ, if you arent in good position at the abeam, the chances are by the time
you get to the ramp you are not in a good position to land. This holds true in any tactical flying. Near
misses are often caused by the wingman being out of position at the start of the maneuver. Strive to
be in position at all times.
In order to minimize the potential for a midair collision (especially in the air-to-air phase), you must
keep your head on a swivel. Learn to take quick glances into the cockpit to get the information you
want then look back outside immediately. Any aircraft that loses sight for more than an instant in a
close fight must transmit, Lost sight. The other aircraft will provide descriptive/directive commen-
tary to help the lost-sight aircraft reacquire sight. If this is unsuccessful, the instructor will call,
Knock it off.