Funeral Overflight & Missing Man Formation For Former United States Military Members

A group of Northern California based pilots, flying former military single-engine prop aircraft offers this solemn flyover to honor the service of former military men and women and their families. The flight is performed at no cost.

This time-honored formation is typically flown over the funeral location just after the service, over the interment, or over the memorial celebration following. Flights are conducted in accordance with FAA regulations at no less than 1000 feet above ground level.

A pass is first made in diamond formation as seen in the first photograph, followed by the Missing Man Formation. As the flight passes overhead, the #3 wingman, trailing white smoke pulls skyward from the formation then banks west out of sight – The Missing Man.
The remaining three aircraft hold course, leaving open the position left by their missing wingman. The impact is profoundly moving.

This formation is believed to have begun by British fighter pilots during WWI. The first written account of the maneuver shown publicly was by the RAF in 1935. During World War II, it evolved into a ceremonial tradition as part of RAF programs. The United States first began the tradition in 1938 during the funeral for Major General Oscar Westover with over 50 aircraft. The Missing Man formation in the United States
was still seldom used until the Second Indochina War, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia when the public at large caught its first glimpse.

The USAF Thunderbirds were the first military aerobatics team to ever perform the maneuver. They flew it for the first time to honor the men and women who were then POWs in Vietnam. Aerial demonstration squadrons have now adopted the formation and perform it during ceremonial events such as National POW-MIA Recognition Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

To schedule a flyover or have further questions answered please contact:
Byron Fox
Work requirements usually constrain our flyovers to Saturday or Sunday.
Flights are available at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery and in Marin and Sonoma counties.

Wings Over Wine Country 2010
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Tuskegee Airmen Gnoss Field
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