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1: What do you do if you are flying in close trail, or in a large formation with an aircraft directly behind you, and your engine looses power or even stops completely?

DO NOT attempt to push down. Hold your position vertically and horizontally relative to the airplane you are following, or if you are lead then the same applies except you have been setting the course of the flight. Remember what was briefed - STEP DOWN IN TRAIL - and this does not mean a nominal step down as there should be at least 10 ft vertical step down. This 10 ft step down applies to being in trail behind a retractable gear airplane - if you are in trail behind a fixed gear plane that you will need more step down, also if you have a higher than normal vertical fin then increase the step down. The idea of a correct step down is that if the engine quits in the airplane ahead of you, then it can safely disappears to the rear of the flight over the top of your plane and any plane behind you. You might be scared witless but you should live to survive the incident. Do NOT step down so you just feel the ‘burble’ - you need to be lower and this involves looking sharply upwards at the airplane in front.

If you do not step down correctly your safety net has been lost and even if the plane in front maintains altitude you will have to take evasive action which will in turn immediately  have an impact on those behind you. It WILL happen so quickly and be over in less than 10 seconds. Think ahead and maintain the correct step down for your safety and that of your team.

It is IMPERATIVE that the aircraft in trouble MUST stay level and to do this the pilot may need to pull back on the stick or yoke slightly to maintain altitude and slide back above the rest of the flight. The aircraft in trouble should notify lead and the rest of the flight on the in-flight frequency as soon as it is safe to do so. Once safely to the rear of the flight the pilot can maneuver to regain a safe airspeed and troubleshoot the problem. Lead should then take charge and direct a member of the flight - wingman or element lead - to carry out the PRE-BRIEFED abnormals procedure.

A further point to note is that WHENEVER you have an aircraft behind you in a safety critical position - trail or as part of a large formation - then BEFORE you ENTER the SAFETY CRITICAL situation you MUST ensure that your fuel system will be not un-port during any maneuvers as this could cause the engine to quit or loose power. If necessary request a move out to the route position to change tanks - DO NOT attempt this while in parade formation. A hic-up with fuel is the most likely cause of an engine problem during flight. Your CONTRACT with your team members is to ensure you have done everything possible to prevent a potential in-flight incident.

You can always practice an engine failure in trail as a solo exercise to see just what you need to do to maintain level flight and how rapidly your plane will slow down.

2.You are flying as #4 in a 4-Ship formation practice flight. The flight is in extended trail.  You are not in an acrobatic aircraft. The flight members are getting out of sync with the flight lead. You feel uncomfortable. What do you do?


Make an immediate radio call “RED Flight, Knock It Off”. All flight members then repeat the command "RED 1, Knock It Off", "RED 2, Knock It Off", "RED 3, Knock It Off", "RED 4, Knock It Off". Expect a futher command from RED Lead. In this example, all aircraft were alerted to a safety of flight condition that was developing. Who called KIO is not critical as the condition effected all flight members. However, had the flight member witnessed imminent danger - another flight member’s impending impact with the ground, for example - the call would instead be directive in nature (“RED 2, pull up!”), and a flight “knock it off” call should not be used until after directive instructions have been provided.