THE RISKS OF FORMATION FLYING
In regard to the May 2018 Flying article “Learn to Fly Formation Like the Pros,” I noted multiple references to lower risk in conducting formation operations. I’d argue that formation flying has inherently more risk than routine single-aircraft operations. We’re not talking about military operations here. Although formation is intended to be well-planned and executed in disciplined and coordinated fashion, lapses, errors and skill deficiencies are of potentially higher consequence.
Did I feel safer flying in the Mooney Caravan to Oshkosh? Not particularly. Minimally “qualified” formation pilots (via a weekend clinic) departing Madison, Wisconsin, with (generally) fully loaded, underpowered airplanes in a mass formation to the biggest airshow in the world. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, and thus your readership should understand that these types of operations assume significant risk and should be approached with a very healthy dose of safety consciousness.
The formation groups do a fairly good job trying to infuse standards and acceptable/ graduated performance levels for their participants. Granted, learning formation is challenging, fun and will enhance your flying skill. However, understanding the unique hazards and how to appropriately manage risk should be well understood before “joining up.” Tom Huff, Springfield, Georgia