Advanced Formation Techniques

From Matronics

< Formation Flying

This article covers formation techniques that are not necessary for basic formation manoeuvres, but are helpful or necessary for more advanced manoeuvres.

Top Rudder

When a wingman is inside Lead's turn (such as in echelon right during a right-hand turn), the wingman requires slightly less bank angle than Lead to maintain position using a coordinated turn, because the wingman's speed is slightly slower. However, this difference in bank angle is very visible from outside the formation, especially from front or rear aspects. The wingman desires to keep his or her wings parallel to Lead's, but that will cause the airplane's nose to have a slight tendency to drop into the turn. To prevent the nose from dropping in, the wingman should apply top rudder (i.e. rudder toward Lead).

This effect is more pronounced the lower the speed and the steeper the bank angle. In a basic RV formation, with speeds typically above 100 knots and bank angles of no more than 45 degrees, the effect is scarcely noticable, and will almost certainly be masked by other position errors. However, when making more advanced manoeuvres, such as lazy eights, where the wingman may find himself at quite low speed and high bank angle on the inside of a turn, top rudder makes it much easier to maintain station.