I am very fortunate to have a good wingman who is an excel-
lent RC pilot, Steve Forrest. Having someone you can trust not to
do anything wacky in the air is a major confidence builder when
maneuvering within feet of each other. I had a guy at the field
inform me that we really don’t fly formation—we fly two-mation,
“four”mation, “two”mation—get it? Yeah, there really is one in
The number two rule of flying formation is don’t fly the wrong
plane! This is perhaps the hardest part because you are not actu-
ally in the airplane you are flying. This rule is especially true in
low light conditions when the planes tend to silhouette. Since you
have to keep both aircraft in sight and somewhat follow what the
other aircraft is doing, you just have to really focus on your plane
The number-one rule for flying in formation is obvious ... don’t hit each other’s plane!
The number two rule ... don’t fly the wrong plane!
every crowd! We are careful to never claim that we fly in formation, but we will say we are always practicing it.
The number-one rule for flying in formation is obvious ...
don’t hit each other’s plane just make sure you always see some
sky between the planes! If the aircraft never visually cross paths,
then they can’t make physical contact. Steve and I always keep a
healthy “couple feet of sky” between us, and in 10 years of flying
formation, we have never collided. Now, one time we did come
really, really close. What clued us in as to how close we were was
the noise from the photographers behind us. The closer we got,
the louder the shutter clicking was—it sounded like the paparazzi
chasing a celebrity! Luckily the “Balsa Gods” forgave our indiscretion that day and we got to keep flying.
Clockwise from top left:
A thumb-twitch away
from calamity. We got
really close a split second
before! Photo by John
Dussold n Two Mustangs
roaring by at low altitude
gets the heart pumping at
any scale! Photo by Don
Thun n As you can see,
flying formation takes
Photo by Rich Dean n
Bombers in formation is
done at a more stately
pace. Photo by John