North Weald Airfield became the fixed base of the Harvard Formation Team in 1986 and their practice sessions commenced in the Spring of that year prior to the airshow season.
When The Squadron was opened in 1989, other aircraft owners expressed their desire to fly in formation and so Anthony Hutton, leader of the Harvard Formation Team, devised a course available to pilots with a minimum of 30 hours. The course originally involved Harvards and Chipmunks but this has since increased to Yak 52s, Extras, Yak 11s and other aircraft.
Pilots are given the opportunity to fly safely in close formation with other aircraft. Instruction is given on a one-to-one basis by current and ex RAF instructors and experienced formation pilots, led by Chris Heames, ex RAF, who has been the Chief Instructor at The Squadron’s course for more than a decade, and co-ordinated by Sam Whatmough. Every sortie is preceded and succeeded by a detailed Brief and Debrief respectively.
Pilots must provide their own aircraft, which has to be the same or compatible with other aircraft on the course, and, of course, it must have two seats as instruction is on a one-to-one basis.
This course is recommended by the Display Section of the Civil Aviation Authority and pilots of the famous airshow teams The Aerostars and Yakovlevs commenced their training at The Squadron. The Formation Flying Instruction is for all pilots who wish to fly in formation, whether for pilot skill improvement or, eventually, having been approved by their individual course instructors and a Display Authorisation Evaluator, for airshow participation.
Holders of the Rule 52B exemption at North Weald are Alan Crouchman, Chris Heames and Phil Ansell. Such activity must be co-ordinated with one of these people.