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CHAPTER FIVE
STANDARD SECTION FORMATION PROCEDURES
500. INTRODUCTION
Formation flying is essential to tactical military flying. It serves many purposes, from the
expeditious recovery of aircraft at the carrier, to tactical mutual support in a high threat
environment. Good formation flying requires not only solid procedural knowledge and attention
to detail, but is the mark of a superior aviator. A Naval Flight Officer's role in formation flying
is critical to the safe completion of the mission. It is for this reason we introduce and practice
formation procedures in VT-86.
There are two basic types of tactical flight formations: sections and divisions. A section is the
smallest formation unit and is composed of two aircraft: a lead and a wingman. Next in size is a
division, which is composed of two sections. Adding sections or divisions as required makes
larger formations. Both section and division formation procedures will be covered in the
advanced syllabus.
501. BASIC FORMATION DEFINITIONS
Parade formation is the standard multi-plane formation. Parade is a close aboard formation that
is utilized when the flight can be critically viewed from the ground. This is most common during
section takeoffs and section breaks. Parade formation is also utilized when a flight encounters
IMC. The close proximity of aircraft in parade formation allows the penetration of instrument
conditions while maintaining section integrity. The limitation of the parade formation is the lack
of dynamic flight maneuverability. Smooth, coordinated control inputs are vital for safe parade
formation.
To improve maneuverability, and when conditions permit, cruise formation is utilized. Cruise
formation is a looser version of parade formation. The increased distance between aircraft in
cruise formation permits greater maneuverability for the flight and allows for an increased
"inside scan" for the wingman. Additionally, cruise formation is less fatiguing, and provides
greater fuel efficiency for the wingman by eliminating the need for the excessive power
corrections normally required to maintain parade formation. Cruise formation is the standard
formation used enroute from one point to another by fleet formations when there is no potential
enemy threat.
While parade and cruise formations are the basic building blocks of formation flying, there are
many other variants of tactical formations. Procedures for formations such as combat spread,
battle box, etc. will be introduced in the advanced syllabus as well.
502. FLIGHT DISCIPLINE
Discipline, in reference to formation flying, involves the conduct of the flight members as both
individuals and as part of a team. This includes individual operations such as taxi, takeoff,
downwind procedures, landing, observance of course rules, and radio procedures. As a member
STANDARD SECTION FORMATION PROCEDURES 5-1


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