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HomeFormation FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Formation Committee
February 2017

  1. Why should I learn how to fly in formation?   Learning to fly in formation with other aircraft is challenging and rewarding.  It is also a great way to showcase your aircraft to the public.  As you learn to fly formation, your aviation skills and decision-making will improve, and you will be learning how to be an integral part of a team of aircraft. 


  2. Is it safe to fly that close to another airplane?  Yes it is, if you are properly trained and maintain the required formation flying proficiency.  But like anything else in aviation, formation flying requires a high degree of focus, discipline, and skill. 


  3. What can I do with a Formation Card?  As a qualified and current holder of a formation card, you can participate in formation fly-by’s at airshows or at other public events.  A Formation Card is also referred to as a FAST Card, since it is issued in accordance with FAST guidelines, and is required to fly formation within waivered airspace at airshows.


  4. What is FAST?  FAST is the Formation and Safety Team, which is the FAA-recognized organization that provides policy and governance to the eighteen FAST Signatory organizations, including NATA. (More information at


  5. What is Waivered Airspace?  Waivered Airspace is the temporary airspace established for an airshow in which certain Federal Aviation Regulations have been waived for performing aircraft.  For example:  Most Airshows apply for and are granted Waivers to FAR 91.303, which governs Acrobatic Flight.  A typical waiver to this FAR authorizes acrobatic flight over open air assembly of persons, within Class B, C, D or E airspace designated for an airport, and below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface.


  6. Can I get my Formation Card in a weekend?  No. This is one of the most common misperceptions of getting a Formation Card.  The typical pilot will require many sorties of practice formation flying with a qualified instructor before he or she is ready for a formation check ride.  The best way to gain the proficiency needed to earn a formation card is to attend a NATA formation clinic.  Most pilots complete their training after a formal clinic or at a later clinic.  There is no minimum number of formation flights required to earn a formation card – the NATA Formation Training Program is designed to help trainees attain the required skills and level of proficiency.  This is a function of the trainee's prior formation experience, hours in type, and commitment to completing the program. 


  7. Will my military formation experience count?  Many current and former military pilots earn their formation cards in order to enjoy the camaraderie and esprit de corps that comes from flying in formation with your friends.  Most military pilots enter the NATA Formation Training Program with a high degree of formation flying experience, and skill, which results in their progressing quickly through the program.  However, military pilots must demonstrate the same skills and level of proficiency as any other trainee before earning a card.


  8. Must I be a NATA member to get a formation card?  You must be a member of a FAST Signatory organization to receive a card.  Only NATA Formation members can receive formation cards issued by NATA.  NATA members wishing to enter formation training must also be Formation members.  You can join NATA as a formation member on this website (Member Signup). A regular NATA member wishing to upgrade to a formation membership before receiving a renewal notice, for example to register for a clinic, should contact


  9. Do I have to attend one of your clinics to get a card?  No. You can fly with qualified formation instructors outside of the formal clinic training environment and earn a formation card.  However, the most efficient and effective formation training is available at a NATA Clinic. Also, only a NATA Check Pilot can endorse a pilot for a NATA card.


  10. How much will it cost me to get my formation card?  This depends on how many sorties it takes to develop the proficiency to pass a check ride.  The cost of operating the aircraft and making yourself available to learn formation flying are the only costs.  If you attend a NATA clinic, there are clinic registration fees to cover the cost of meals, snacks, refreshments, kneeboard cards, etc. 


  11. Do I have to pay for the instructor and check pilot?  No. NATA instructor pilots and check pilots do not generally charge a fee for their services.  Additionally, the other pilots in your formation training flight will not charge you for their gas.  NATA members generously donate their time, aircraft, and resources to help others earn their formation cards.  Newly qualified formation pilots are therefore expected to participate in training flights for other aspiring formation pilots by returning to formation clinics each year.  Since formation flying is such a rewarding experience, we seldom have a shortage of pilots wanting to exercise their formation flying skills.


  12. If I own a T-6, can I get formation training at a T-28 clinic? Although you can gain valuable training by attending any formation clinic, you will not generally be able to earn your formation card while flying a T-6 at a T-28 clinic.  This is due to the large differences in aircraft speed, power, and operating procedures between these aircraft types.  There are examples, however, of pilots who earned their formation cards at a clinic involving dissimilar formations of T-34's, CJ-6's, Yak's, and T-6's.  There are ample opportunities to attend clinics for all NATA trainers, and NATA hosts combined aircraft type clinics several times each year.


  13. When is the next formation clinic?  NATA holds annual formation clinics prior to Sun N Fun in April and EAA AirVenture in July, and at other times throughout the year.  View upcoming clinics on our calendar.


  14. Where can I get more information?  Additional information is available on this website, and on the FAST website at