Aerobatic demonstrations are not just thrilling to watch - for a fighter pilot the maneuvers have a far deeper implication. In aerial combat it is the pilot's ability to exploit the maneuverability of his machine to the limit, which largely determines the outcome of a duel. Through aerobatics the pilot learns to achieve and recover from the extreme attitudes he may have to employ during air combat. This exercise, therefore, forms part of normal training for fighter pilots in all phases of their training.
Similarly, formation flying is fundamental to the fighter pilots repertoire of skills because it enables flights or squadrons of fighter aircraft to maneuver efficiently and safely in close proximity with each other, during the conduct of their missions.
Aerobatics as well as formation flying, each by itself, is a relatively routine skill to acquire and is a must for all fighter pilots. However, in combination, they constitute an exercise which demands the highest degree of concentration, coordination and anticipation, quite apart from taxing a pilot's stamina, patience and tenacity to the utmost.
For sheer spectacle, formation aerobatics have no equal, and some of the larger air forces have found it worth their while to maintain permanent teams to give frequent performances on a variety of occasions. However, proficiency in this exercise demands a vast amount of practice and the small PAF has not found it economical to maintain such a capability because of its infrequent requirement. Despite these factors, the PAF from time to time has raised transient teams on a whole range of aircraft including Furies, Attackers, Sabres, T-37s, B-57s and F-6s.
The first public performance of formation aerobatics in the PAF was given in December 1950 at Risalpur when 2 Tempests led by Flight Lieutenant Rahim Khan, executed loops, rolls and wing overs during an air display held for a visiting dignitary. An interesting sidelight to this pioneering event was the keenness of both pilots to be the format or rather than the lead aircraft. In the end they reached a compromise and, perhaps to the amusement of professional spectators, were seen sliding back and forth between maneuvers, taking turns as wingman!