Formation Operations
(or flying in pursuit of maximum style points)

Flight assignments and orderly formations in practice sessions as well as S3 events and scenarios are key to effective operations and maximizing the fun factor.  Effective formations allow us to cover each other, scout out the enemy, and maintain force cohesion, particularly in S3 events where the stakes are higher.  We may not always make it back to base, but damn it, we look good doing it and we all know that's what counts!

Usually, we fly in one or more diamond formations, as in the examples below:

Division # Aircraft # Pilot Station
Tone Division
Division 1
.radio 1 39
1 -tone- Leads Division 1
2 -unfg- d2 off tone's left rear
3 stoopd d2-d4 off tone's right rear
4 mgyver d2 off stoopd's left rear
Rhino Division
Division 2
.radio 1 39
5 -rhno- Leads Division 2
6 weiser d2 off -rhno-'s left rear
7 -hero- d2-d4 off -rhno-'s right rear
8 bujdod d2 off -hero-'s left rear

Each pilot has a number 1-8 to simply identify his place within our squadron, but we may refer to them as being first through fourth within their division.

It is important that you know your Division Leader (-tone- or -rhno-). Your pilot number within the squadron is useful only in case a higher level commander directly commands some of us to do something special. -tone- and -rhno- can track this for you, but note your number all the same.

Unless otherwise ordered, our median throttle setting during our transit to the strike area will be 70%-80%. This keeps us in the air, at a good airspeed, and saves fuel. Individual pilots should manage their throttle at the lowest setting that keeps them in formation or moving TO formation at a rate mandated by the threats we face.

The formation slots shown are to be our usual ones, and would put each Division in a rough diamond formation.

You should also be able to know where to find yourself if we go into a line-abreast formation, which we may use if we are not entirely sure where the enemy will be found (so our strike transit may also help use locate the enemy fleet)

Transitioning to a Line Abreast Formation

Each line, when formed into line abreast, will have the 4 planes of the division in the order 2 1 3 4 (left to right) -- in this example, that would be either -unfg- -tone- stoopd mgyver OR weiser -rhno- -hero- bujdod. The reason for this ordering is to place the commander nearer the center of mass to speed concentration back into a diamond formation. The trick is in GETTING to the line abreast formation smoothly. This will always be done from the diamond formation outlined above, and the overall heading and altitude will not change during the maneuver.

When a line-abreast formation is commanded, the Division Leader will maintain heading and reduce his speed to 150 MPH. His #2 will change course 20 degrees to the left and maintain a speed of 170 MPH. #3 (the element leader) will set a course 20 degrees to the right and set speed 170. The #4 pilot (who has the farthest to travel) will set a heading of 35 degrees to the right, and go to 90-100% throttle. This diverging course can be held as long as the Division Leader thinks necessary to achieve the desired frontage. Once it is time to stop fanning out, the Division Leader will again order all pilots back to his formation heading, and to the common transit throttle setting.

If we have both Divisions in diamond formation near each other (as I expect they'd be if we are operating together), a switch to line abreast may be preceded by a move of the diamonds to line-abreast so that the two lines will be continuous rather than overlapping.

Reverting to a Diamond Formation

Coming back to a diamond formation is more casual. The Division leader reduces his speed to 150 MPH and calls out his heading and calls the division back into diamond. Each pilot uses his own judgment as to heading and throttle (try to avoid excessive speeds) to converge and find themselves back in formation. The #4 plane tries to fall in with #3 as soon as possible, and #3 brings the second element into position.

This should give us all we need to ensure we get to fly together and do our best. The rest is up to us, and homework will be a big determinent, but no one will be harangued for crashing while being shot at, etc. Just try your best!


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