Close Formation Flying
Echelon Starboard
Line Astern
Echelon Starboard
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Flying an aeroplane in close proximity to another is highly demanding but lots of fun. This skill is taught to all military pilots during their basic training and expanded upon once on their operational squadrons

I am not a military pilot I hear you say. That maybe so but flying close to another aeroplane is not just for the military pilot but for all pilots who wish to do so. The day may come when you are asked to assist another pilot in trouble and the best means of help is to shepherd them back to an airfield for a safe landing

Having completed the On-Track Aviation Close Formation Course you will have the necessary skill and confidence to do this task safely and effectively. Moreover, the course will help you improve your flying skills and your airmanship as you will now have to think about more than just yourself

Pre-Course Entry Requirements

The pilot must hold at least a:

(a) PPL(A) or NPPL(A) or LAPL(A)

(b) valid medical certificate

(c) valid and current class/type rating for the aircraft to be used on the course

Ground Training

5 hours theoretical knowledge training cover formation positions, changes and manoeuvring as well as introducing formation leading

The training shall be integrated with the flight training so that the maximum benefit is gained from time spent in the air

Flight Training

5 hours dual flight instruction and 45 minutes solo flight

Flight Test

There is no formal flight test on completion of the close formation flying course. However, prior to the first solo formation flight an independent dual check is carried out


The aeroplanes we use for the course are the Robin 200s or PA28s. Any low wing aeroplane would be a suitable type to use on the course. The only requirement is that the aeroplanes are matched in performance

Pilots may use their own aircraft at the discretion of On-Track Aviation Limited


AP3456 Royal Air Force Flying Manual Volume 5
On-Track Aviation Limited Close Formation Flying Syllabus


To fly as PIC as a wingman or operate as leader of a formation of aeroplanes


There are no formal validity requirements. However, good airmanship and common sense dictate that a pilot who has not flown formation for some time should seek refresher training from a suitably qualified instructor

What it says in the ANO - The Rules of the Air Regulations 1996

Rules for avoiding aerial collisions

17 (1) General

(a) Notwithstanding that the flight is being made with air traffic control clearance it shall remain the duty of the commander of an aircraft to take all possible measures to ensure that his aircraft does not collide with any other aircraft

(b) An aircraft shall not be flown in such proximity to other aircraft as to create a danger of collision

(c) Subject to sub-paragraph (g), aircraft shall not fly in formation unless the commanders of the aircraft have agreed to do so

(g) Sub-paragraph (c) shall not apply to an aircraft flying under and in accordance with the terms of a police air operator's certificate


On-Track Aviation Limited: Wellesbourne Mountford Aerodrome, Loxley Lane, Wellesbourne, Warwickshire. CV35 9EU, United Kingdom
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