Flight Briefing

We will always do a pre-flight briefing, but here are some general rules:

​1. In most cases, the photo plane will form up on the subject aircraft.  At that point,

you will have the lead.  Please set up an economy cruise power setting so that after

we join up, you will be able to go faster or slower as needed to maneuver on the

Photo Plane.

2. Once the Photo Plane has called “I have the lead”, it is then your responsibility to

maintain eye contact with the photo aircraft at all times.  If at any time you have to

look away from the photo aircraft, move out of formation before you break eye contact with the Photo Plane.

3. The basic secret of formation flying is: MATCH YOUR WINGS TO THE SAME BANK AS THE LEADER.  It sounds too simple, but if your wings are held at the same angle as the photo ship you will find it easy to stay with us.

4. Anticipate power changes.  Plan to use big power changes to keep in position.  Airplanes accelerate and decelerate SLOWLY.  Try to plan ahead with your power usage.  If you have an airplane with a constant speed propeller leave your rpm set at the top of the green range for quicker power response and more aerodynamic braking from the propeller when you need to slow down and reduce power.  You will be making constant power changes (and over a big range of power) to move to where we need you and maintain station in turns.

5. Do everything slowly and in small increments.  We will start turns off very shallow and tighten them up as needed.  No rapid movements! 

6. It is important for the pilot flying the plane to be in direct radio contact with the photo plane.  We will be giving you instructions constantly.  They will be simple, and in feet... move forward 5 feet, move backward 5 feet, in 5 feet, out 5 feet, etc.  The photographer may also give you hand signals.

7. If you lose sight of the Photo Plane, move away from our known position slowly, and immediately advise us that you have lost sight.  We will establish the direction before flight.  Example, if you're on the right side of the photo plane, you will break to the right and down.  You can say, "Break It Off."  We will go up and to the left.  If either you or the Photo Plane says Break It Off, we do so immediately.

8. Make sure you have a clear view of the photographer.  What I see is what I get.  If you can't see me, I can't see your face.

9. You will be flying into the sun a lot.  That's how we get the best photos.  If you need a break from the sun, tell us.  If you need a break for any reason, tell us.  Most pilots I fly with are exhausted after a photo shoot.  Don't let it become too stressful.

10. Most important... Don't Touch Me!!  No photo is worth risking safety.  


1. Be sure your aircraft interior is neat, with no unattractive gear showing. Your hats, clothing, etc. will also be visible in some of the pictures, so dress appropriately.  If you have a bubble canopy, I recommend a black shirt to cut down reflections.

2. If you have a multi-place airplane feel free to take a passenger.  They can help with traffic scan and navigation letting you concentrate more on the formation flying.  If you have a passenger onboard, be sure they are looking at the photo plane when we are taking your picture. 

3. If you want to take pictures of the Photo Plane, wait for a time when we are not taking your picture.  (And keep your camera out of sight when we are shooting you.)

4. Wear clothing and hats that will look good in the pictures (in many of the shots the pilots will be seen in good detail).

5. Smile! It makes the pictures much better (you are having fun, remember).