Formation flying is an absolute blast. The goal may be to perform at an air show — or merely to get a group of two or more airplanes safely from point A to point B. When done properly and done well, it can be incredibly satisfying, and it looks great from the ground, too. That said, flying in formation is serious business! It's not the type of thing you want to just "go up and try" with your buddies.
The West Coast Formation Clinic is a weekend-long immersion into the study of safe formation flying in Vans RV aircraft. Very straightforward and safe techniques for civilian formation activities have evolved over the years, stemming primarily from military flight ops. Civilian and ex-military pilots alike can benefit greatly by learning and utilizing these techniques. The FFI Formation Guide is a recognized airshow performance standard and is the basis for training at the clinic. A number of airshow certified pilots will be on hand to ensure a high level of professionalism and discipline throughout the clinic event.
The weekend is formally kicked off with ground school, which is mandatory for all pilots who wish to fly, regardless of skill level. Ground school includes an interactive visual presentation and Q&A session that delves into and beyond the FFI Formation Guide. While it may be a review for some of the more experienced pilots, it will introduce rookies to the mechanics of formation flying needed to conduct our practice flights safely and uneventfully.
The majority of the weekend will be practical training, with flights led by carded FFI Flight Leads or flight leads in training.
The conclusion of the clinic is marked by an "all-up" formation, in which all qualified pilots may fly. In past clinics we have had 32 aircraft up at once! This gives newly qualified pilots a first chance to experience and participate in a Large Formation, and it's a good warmup for the airshow certified pilots.
For more information on formation flying and FFI, please review the FFI Program Manual. If you wish to participate in the clinic, please review all the pages on this site to be fully informed, and then submit your application here. We hope to see you in Madera!