LOW-LEVEL AND TACTICAL FORMATION
Maintain VMC if possible and notify LEAD of intentions.
Contact the appropriate controlling agency and RTB via course rules.
VMC. Assembly should occur as soon as practical after takeoff. On departure, LEAD
maintains a stable platform at 150 KIAS. After positive identification of all preceding aircraft,
WING climbs at speeds up to 180 KIAS to reach the in-trail position. TWO will remain below
and slightly to the right of LEAD until in position. THREE will remain below and to the left of
both LEAD and TWO. Once level at assembly altitude, WING may accelerate to 200 KIAS max
to complete the rejoin. Each aircraft should complete the climb checklist prior to assembly.
IMC. LEAD and WING fly separate instrument departures. The departure is flown at the
prebriefed airspeed and power setting. LEAD directs a rejoin once all aircraft are VMC and
WING aircraft have reported visual contact with LEAD. LEAD will terminate with ATC prior
to the rejoin.
TWO should remain at least 1000 feet below LEAD's altitude until positive visual contact has
been established. THREE will maintain 1000 feet below TWO (i.e., 2000 feet below lead until
visual established with both preceding aircraft and cleared to rejoin).
Rejoin. Aircraft joining a formation enroute will contact LEAD and rejoin as briefed, or
proceed single ship. Remain at least 500 feet above or below the formation until the formation is
in sight and clearance to rejoin is granted.
211. VISUAL FORMATION GEOMETRIES
The purpose of formation flight is to permit the largest number of aircraft to drop supplies,
equipment, or personnel, in the minimum amount of time, thus minimizing risk to aircraft and
aircrews. Several types of formation geometries have been developed to enable large formations
of aircraft to safely and effectively operate in a tactical environment. We will use some of these
to familiarize you with the basics of formation flight.
In-Trail Position. The basic position is a rigid in-trail formation used primarily for formation
departures, drops, and recoveries. It allows large formations to cross the drop zone in a minimal
amount of time. Its disadvantages are that wingmen have to work harder to stay in the correct
position and it makes maneuvering to avoid threats or detection more difficult and dangerous. It
also allows enemy gunners to target each aircraft as they cross over.