Section 7    -    Formation Break to Land
Open for Business
With Kind help from Sgt. Koos *Red Baron*

The Check Ride for this Section will take place on a Mission where the Candidate will simply be observed and counseled privately as necessaryThe Mission Lead always runs through this process on the way home and narrates the Ballet .

Formation, Element and Ship Naming System

Some Missions in the War Years would launch 1,000 ships in huge Formations that had gathering areas all over England. We are limited to 16 ships when we reenact our Missions due to the limitations of the Servers we fly on.

When Aircraft Labels (CTRL+SHIFT+L) are used in FSX, The Lead, Port, Starboard and Trail naming system references each of the four Elements and all the Ships to their geographical position in the Formation and Elements using the least numbers of digits.

Thus, the Element and Ship Naming System for our purposes is:

Elements are named as follows:


      Obo              Dimple   


Each of our four Elements can have up to 4 Ships and those positions are named as follows:

( In each Element, note that the 3 is to Port and the 2 is to Stbd )

Ship Positions within the Elements are named as follows, Note the Altitudes


Altitude of Record


L-3          L-2


    Obo                                       Dimple  

 High or +100                             Low or -100 

O-1                                         D-1

O-3          O-2                          D-3          D-2

O-4                                         D-4


Low-Low or -200


M-3          M-2


With this reasoning, Please enter your Ship Position as the Tail Number in "Aircraft Details" when selecting an Aircraft such as L-1, O-2, D-4 or M-4 etc.

Formation, Element and Ship Altitudes

Mission Altitudes for each of the Elements

Each of the 4 Elements are flying at different Altitudes.

The Lingers Element (Lead) is at Altitude of Record as assigned in the Mission Instructions.

The Obo Element (Port) is flying 100 feet Higher than the assigned altitude.

The Dimple Element (Stbd) is flying 100 feet Lower than the assigned altitude.

The Mutter Element (Trail) is 200 feet lower than the assigned altitude.

These altitude variances provide the Formation the most effective defensive firepower against Enemy Aircraft.

Mission Altitudes for each of the Ships within each Element

The ships within each element are also at different altitudes for the same defense reasoning as the Elements.

The Ship altitudes within each Element.

The Lead Ship fly's at the adjusted Element Altitude that is dependent on which Element he is in/

The Port Ship fly's 100 feet higher than his lead.

The Stbd Ship Fly's 100 feet lower than his lead.

The Trail Ship fly's 200 feet lower than his Lead.

The Formation Landing System

Take 16 B-17's, bunch them up so they look sweet and have the best defensive capabilities, point them at a runway, and tell them to land. They will all learn quickly that there has to be a plan or a process for that sort of thing or chaos will rule the day.

At first glance the solution that evolved during the war years looked complicated but once you understand it is becomes easy, if you can fly that is. Lets assume that we can all fly and walk thru this system.

The entire group of 16 ships in Formation are returning from a Mission, luckily with no losses, the weather is good with light or no winds on the ground, and the Group has been assigned to runway 25 at UKBA.

They let down over the English Channel and turn to the approach bearing for Assigned Runway at 1500 feet AGL,

- Here is a Link to the Approach Plates for all runways outlining the Missed Approach Procedures -

Circuit Number One - By the entire Group - All UKBA Patterns are Left.

While still in full Formation they fly right by just a tad to the right side of the runway and make a beautiful full formation half needle or half rate left hand turn to enter the pattern way out at the far end of the runway. Looking real good so far. Next we see then flying back on the downwind leg of the circuit still in full formation and head out to the east. The show is about to begin.

At the end of the downwind, way leg out by over Cathedral to the east of Fowlmere, they make another full formation turn back to the runway bearing again. They have slowed down a bit (Lead will advise) and still at 1500 Feet. They have checked out the field and got their familiar bearings back after all the action they saw in the Mission and are now ready to land.

The First Set of Landings occurs at the beginning of Circuit Number two:

As the full formation fly's up to the threshold again, the Ships in the Port and the Trail Elements begin to peal off right at the threshold on another circuit one ship at a time, Each peal exactly 20 seconds apart while the Lead and Stbd

elements continue on past the far end of the runway again.

The landing order for the First set is made up of the Obo and Mutter Elements is:

To Maintain Spacing, Each Ship Slows to 135 MPH and Lowers Gear and 1/3 Flaps at the end of the Downwind Leg, prior to their Turn to Base

Landing Order  -  Tail Number

1    O-3

2    O-4

3    O-1

4    O-2

5    M-3

6    M-4

7    M-1

8    M-2

The Second Set of Landings occurs at the beginning of Circuit number Three:

The landing order for the Second set is made up of the Lingers and Dimple Elements is:

To Maintain Spacing, Each Ship Slows to 135 MPH and Lowers Gear and 1/3 Flaps at the end of the Downwind Leg, prior to their Turn to Base

Landing Order  -  Tail Number

 9    L-3

10   L-4

11   L-1

12   L-2

13   D-3

14   D-4

15   D-1

16   D-2

The picture below shows the January 23, 2015 Formation Landing Plan