I have been looking at ways of making close formation flying a little easier. As a result I have come up with a proposal for a new formation flying position. The classic RAF close formation position, has the No 2 and 3 flying abeam the leaders tailplane with about a half a wingspan separation. With the view distortion towards the edge of the screen at anything other than a very narrow Field of View (FoV). I find this very difficult, while the alternative of maintaining a narrow FoV and using Track-IR or similar to give the essential view ability is very problematic, given the vagaries of T-IR. I do not know whether VR is any easier.
As a result I propose a change to our basic close formation. The new position would be further back and a little closer in. This way, the leader will appear in the quarter panel immediately either side of the HUD. The separation is around 150 ft, with about 2 aircraft lengths between the tail of the leader and the nose of the No 2 and 3, and a little less than half a wingspan laterally. As well as being more relaxed and comfortable, it appears to make it a little easier to follow the leaders manoeuvres. I have attached a screen shot of the position, and you will see that it has the lead aircraft level with the bottom of the accelerometer (Standby compass on the other side), and just filling the width of the side panel.
I find that this position allows varying speed to picked up and responded too much more quickly, while the ability to see an undistorted HUD and most of the main panel in the same frame as the leader gives a better overall orientation. To allow other members to try this out I have also made a short mission (12 minutes) in which up to 3 aircraft can follow a non-deviating lead aircraft at 9800 ft and 232 knots (about 85% power), which is also attached.
Health Warning - at the end of the straight and level period I had the leader enter an orbit to try turning in formation - unfortunately as he enters he first turns one way and then the other quite quickly - certainly too fast for me to stay with him. However, the good news is that the nose to tail clearance does mean that you can avoid him.
Finally, I have also recorded and attached a short track of me flying this mission. Because the forum won't allow a .trk file to be uploaded, I have changed the file type to .mix - YOU MUST CHANGE THE FILE TO Demo Form.trk BEFORE YOU RUN IT.
I had hoped to include a soundtrack on it explaining what I am doing - in effect a QFIs patter as would be provided by an RAF QFI on the first formation teaching ride. unfortunately, this only seems possible if I convert it to AVI, which runs to several 100Mbs - If anyone can suggest how I could add a simple voice over to a .trk file i would be grateful.
Please feel free to download both mission and track, and let me know what you think. If anyone wants to fly the mission with me please also let me know.
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