AIR FORCE T-38 TRACK INTERMEDIATES
Use visual signals to the maximum extent possible. Any nonstandard visual signals must be
briefed. Do not hesitate to use the radio to avoid confusion. If a Wingman does not
acknowledge a signal, it should be interpreted as a request for clarification. Repeat the signal or
make a radio call.
Acknowledge all visual signals. This acknowledgment will take the form of a head nod, a
thumbs up, or a change in formation position as appropriate. Make your head nod big and clear.
Likewise, make all visual signals big and clear. Do not make your Flight Lead wonder whether
or not you saw the signal. You should not acknowledge any unclear visual signals and maintain
position until receiving clarification.
Each aircrew member shares the responsibility to avoid collision. The Wingman retains
primary responsibility for deconfliction between flight members. This responsibility transfers to
the Flight Lead if the Wingman becomes blind or is placed in a blind cone during tactical
The Flight Lead should focus on traffic avoidance and maintaining a safe altitude above the
ground. Flying in the lead position allows the most flexibility to clear visually for the flight
while interpreting traffic calls from ATC.
If any conflict exists between flight members, the Wingman should transmit personal
intentions affording the other aircraft a means to deconflict. Example: the Wingman transmits,
"Knight Two is going high," while crossing Lead's flight path in a delayed turn nearly in-plane.
The transmission indicates that Knight Two will be maneuvering above the Flight Lead to
remain well clear. The Flight Lead then may maneuver anywhere away from the new plane of
motion. This technique prevents an aircraft from directing a course of action that the other
aircraft may be unable to perform. While maintaining position in formation, Wingmen also have
standard visual lookout responsibilities. If the Wingman detects a traffic conflict, initiate a
directive call to Lead. Follow up the directive call with a descriptive call to allow other flight
members to acquire the traffic and maneuver appropriately (e.g., "Knight One, climb," "traffic
12 o'clock, level, 1 mile"). Wingmen should also provide mutual support by maintaining
situational awareness through calls from controlling agencies describing the position of potential
All flight members share visual lookout responsibilities. While employing in a Tactical
Formation, lookout priorities change based on the mission, weather, threat, altitude, formation,
4-6 T-38 FORMATION BASICS