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  • I'm flying a few thousand feet over Lincolnshire

  • with the Red Arrows, the Royal Air Force aerobatic team.

  • And maybe this is patriotism talking,

  • but they are the best aerobatic team anywhere in the world.

  • Aircraft flying at hundreds of miles an hour

  • just metres apart from each other.

  • Not just in level flight either.

  • They do things like this.

  • - Here at the Red Arrows, we fly the BAE Systems Hawk T-Mk1

  • powered by the Rolls Royce Adour Engine.

  • We've flown them here in the Red Arrows since 1980

  • which is obviously a reasonable time,

  • but they are perfect for what they do.

  • They are sprightly, they're fast,

  • they're simple to operate, and they're a pilot's aircraft.

  • Today, we're going to have seven aircraft of our total of nine in the display.

  • We fly 6 to 11 feet apart in the air. We're doing actually about 400 mph.

  • The skill of formation flying is essentially triangulating a position.

  • So you have two references that you're looking at.

  • One at the front and one at the back of another aircraft.

  • And as long as you line up both those references perfectly,

  • you will be in the exact formation position.

  • We train for approximately seven months

  • before we even display anywhere near the public.

  • We fly the same display for almost four months of those seven,

  • and it's a building-block approach to get us to the stage where we are absolutely

  • safe, professional and excellent enough to display in front of the public.

  • - So the question is: how is it possible

  • to safely fly this close and perform manoeuvres this precise?

  • Part of it is training, trust, and talent,

  • but part of it is a skill that you probably already know,

  • keeping your distance from the car in front

  • when you're driving on a highway.

  • It's just that instead of working in one dimension,

  • these pilots are working in three.

  • Or, if you count time, maybe even four.

  • - My job as a team leader is to annunciate

  • to all the team pilots where I'm going

  • and when I'm going to do it.

  • So we have a very metronomic radio voice to let them know--

  • "Coming, right, now."

  • "Hold-ing-the-bank, now."

  • Hold-ing-the-bank, now.

  • Everything is done on that cadence

  • and the guys know when I'm going to make that input.

  • The actual art of formation flying, in itself, is reasonably straight forward.

  • So the relative motion between the aircraft is meant to be zero.

  • And the only time that we have any relative movement between the aircraft

  • is when we're asking the pilots to change shape.

  • For the pilots who are up there, whilst they might be upside down at 100 feet,

  • to them the other aircraft don't look like they're moving at all.

  • So you can be too high or too low, which we call too shallow or deep.

  • You can be too far forwards or too far backwards,

  • which we call short or long.

  • And of course, this being a three-dimensional game,

  • you can be too close, or too tight as we call it,

  • or too far away from the other aircraft, which is what we call wide.

  • But it's also about timing.

  • So we're trying to, as the Red Arrows, make it look like we're one wing

  • that's moving beautifully in graceful formation.

  • And to do that, the guys who are furthest away from me as the leader

  • need to know when I'm going to turn.

  • I expect them to have already started putting their inputs

  • if they're along way away from me,

  • and if they don't, they're behind the time and it's going to look like a broken chair.

  • Every formation shape and every formation position

  • has a different route to get out of that formation quickly and safely enough.

  • They're what we call the escape strategies, but every manoeuvre is different.

  • So the pilots are not only remembering which manoeuvre's next

  • but also how to escape from that manoeuvre when it's coming up.

  • The pilots here on my team have an inordinate amount of trust in each other.

  • They have a prescribed piece of airspace next to the aircraft that they're formating on.

  • That's what we call the box.

  • And the pilot who's flying next to them trusts

  • that they're never going to be outside of that box of formation.

  • - Thank you to the Red Arrows, to the RAF, and Rolls Royce.

  • At some point I'll be over in their Starrship channel,

  • so have a look at the links on screen or in the description!

  • [laughter]

  • Oh wow! [laughter]

I'm flying a few thousand feet over Lincolnshire

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B1 formation aircraft flying display fly royce

How Formation Flying Works (feat. the Red Arrows!)

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/04/01
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