When two or more pilots come to me for instruction in the art of safe, precision formation flying I obviously have to engage additional professionals so that each student has a one-to-one trainer. I always recommend allowing plenty of time to schedule a formation training programme to ensure that the right professionals can be included. Costs obviously vary depending on the number of aircraft involved and the complexity and level of skills sought.

Generally speaking (with my hat on as a Display Authorising Evaluator) Display Authorisations issued by the CAA in the UK are for a maximum of four aircraft per formation unit. If special formations greater than four are involved we get into the province of element training or section leaders that co-ordinate to create larger “balbo” type formations. This is a real challenge, especially if dissimilar aircraft are involved at the same time!

Basic formation flying experience can be an invaluable asset for all pilots. It helps to develop appreciation of closing speed and closure distance, enhances spatial awareness, and becomes relevant in congested traffic zones or even just around a busy circuit.