Talk:Missing man formation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Military history (Rated Start-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality assessment scale.
WikiProject Aviation / Aircraft (Rated C-class)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of the Aviation WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see lists of open tasks and task forces. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
Checklist icon
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the aircraft project.

As seen from below?[edit]

What in the world is that distinction supposed to mean?

If the flight is northbound, and I am facing north, the orientation for me is the same as for the flight. Only if I am facing south does it reverse, as the most recent change would have it!

And if I am facing west, the description makes no sense at all.

If Wiki is not to be a laughing stock, better revert that last change :) —Preceding unsigned comment added by User:Cubdriver (Usertalk Cubdriver)

WWII flyovers[edit]

Flyovers of airfields became standard practice in the Royal Air Force, to show the ground crews how many survivors had returned from a mission.

This passage has no place here. This article is about flyovers in one particular formation, and very few air units, particularly bomber units, would be able (or willing) to reform into formations after a mission. They usually put down as they arrived (with priority given to machines with injured crews or severe battle damage). The mass flyovers one sees in movies such as "Memphis Belle" and "Dam Busters" were the result of the narrowness of WWII-era runways. Units couldn't put down all at once. Aircraft stooged around until they had clearance to land.


I think the description could be better... Witnessing a missing man formation is a very, very impressive moment if it is well performed. I think some reference or explaination should be made to that fact. Maybe a quote like this one could be used: "Looking heavenward you cannot help but shed a tear... mournful... lonesome... a hole that screams out almost as loudly as the roar of the engines that pass overhead." source:

In the "finger four" formation the aircraft that pulled up (often?) also flies away to the west. See for a document called "How to execute the Missing Man Formation"

Also, this formation is (at least in the Netherlands) performed for both civil and military pilots. The article seems to suggest this is a military honor only. (talk) 15:45, 19 November 2007 (UTC)WoutR

References added[edit]

Several references were added today that cleared up the unreferenced tag. In addition, for readers the citations will help to give perspective to this event, which is not just reserved for the military, and in the case of the NPR citation a chance to listen objectively to its description. --Morenooso (talk) 13:38, 11 March 2010 (UTC)

Missing man formation in motorsports?[edit]

That might be the basis for a good article on that but seems to trivalize the missing man formation as this is an airborne event. --Morenooso (talk) 03:38, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Red Baron connection??[edit]

The citations in total detail all the "suppositons" and commentary edits recently made to this article. Multiple WP:RS sources exist and flesh out this article. No WP:CONSENSUS for the prior edit to this revert. --Morenooso (talk) 13:10, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Point is that the SOURCE indicates that it is a supposition - and (if you actually read it) implies that it may well be a legend. There are in existence a number of contemporary accounts of the Red Baron's funeral, and none of them mention a salute from the air - only the conventional firing squad over the grave. Nor is a flypast mentioned in any context in any of a number of more recent biographies etc. of Richthofen. To be blunt, the flypast itself looks very much like a later (quite recent) invention. In fact it almost certainly never happened (I agree this is a shame, as the idea has a certain romance). The second point (this flypast being the origin of the "missing man" formation) ignores the facts of technology in 1914-18, and the effects this had on flight practice. In this period fighter pilots, in particular, did not, as a rule, return from a mission in formation - especially after they had been dispersed by (say) a dogfight. They had no radio communication with each other or the ground, and reforming any formation that might have been kept "on the way out" was practically impossible. There are numerous references (from "Biggles" up) that they returned home either individually or in pairs. Another editor has detailed this point in a note higher up this page, and I won't repeat him.--Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:51, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Unless you start the discussion, please don't change the header. It reflects a direct action and is referenced by my revert. --Morenooso (talk) 21:56, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Aviation history records feats like Ira C. Eaker and the Question Mark. Formation flying goes back to WWII. To look at how someone would have described the first time fire happened would not be probably recorded correctly either. It's historical lookbacks like these that accurately tie it together. --Morenooso (talk) 21:59, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
But this is WWI. (1914-18 as opposed to 1939-45) Formation flying "goes back" to then too, but it was relatively rare, and mainly indulged in by bomber pilots. The point is that there is no contemporary evidence that the event in question - the flypast over Richthofen's grave - ever happened. It most unlikely it did. Hence the "lookback" is "conjectural" rather than "historical" and has little or no value. Leaving it in at all in doubtful - it really needs to at least not be more definitely stated than the original source. Incidentally - section headings need to be reasonably descriptive - so that others who might be interested can identify what it is all about. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:11, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
I understand the period of time. When Eaker accomplished his feat, no said it could be done either. And, it too was incorrectly initially documented too as the Army Corps did not consider the Air Arm reliable. You will never read what really happened to Carl Spencer Mather for whom Mather AFB was named. Another formation flight gone wrong.
All the citations point to the event and are described in independent sourced citations. --Morenooso (talk) 22:17, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
I would query whether an advocacy group for Missing In Action counts as a WP:RS in this case - and even if it does - it isn't certain about the claim. It seems very unlikely - the RAF were rather busy in April 1918 and didn't have aircraft to spare for flypasts for funerals.Nigel Ish (talk) 22:47, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Adding to the discussion, the relevant passage quoted from the source material is: "Rumored to have begun when British fighter pilots flew over the funeral of Manfred 'The Red Baron' von Richthofen as a sign of respect by his fellow aces, the formation does find its birth in World War I." First of all, this never occurred as all contemporary accounts of Richthofen's funeral describe a reverential but subdued ceremony punctuated by a "21-gun" rifle salute by the squad assembled for the occasion. The Baron's aircraft was felled over a section of Allied territory controlled by the Australians, not the British. His funeral was filmed and documentary footage still remains. See: <> Secondly, a source that refers to "rumors" completely disqualifies it as an authoritative reference. Finally, no other corroboration exists anywhere that a formation of fighter pilots ever appeared over the funeral of the Red Baron. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 22:51, 4 May 2010 (UTC).
Please note: Soundofmusicals invited at least seven editors to this talkpage with almost the same one I have under watch with user:NawlinWiki. Edit conflict prevented this post. --Morenooso (talk) 22:53, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Please see this DIFF. --Morenooso (talk) 22:56, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
And why the hell not!!! You're the one bleating about consensus, and insisting on a cryptic title for the section, which means that no one is going to notice it if they're not invited. Nonsense on Wiki needs to be effectively and vigorously countered if anyone is going to take it seriously as an encyclopedia, as I'm sure in a different context you would agree!! Let's just see what the editors I invited think - they are not from a "crony list" of mine, but people I have picked as likely to be interested, as recent editors of the Red Baron article. Address the points raised and people may take you seriously.--Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:12, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Does that change the facts? The suggestion that SoM made seemed eminently diplomatic. I would have completely removed an unsupportable and unverified rumour of a flyover in the First World War. Have you ever seen biplane fighters of that era try to fly in formation? Their very tricky handling led to a very loose shuffling in the air. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 23:04, 4 May 2010 (UTC).
As has been pointed out, there was no flypast. The comment about the rumours really should be removed from the article altogether. Definitly not reported as "fact". - The Bushranger (talk) 23:25, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
If the rumour is to be included at all, it should be made expressly clear that it is no more than that-- a rumour. As a Richthofen fan, I'd like to think that the missing man formation was invented for Manfred, but the fact remains that we really don't have any supporting evidence for this. Most sources that I've seen do say that the practice had it origins in the First World War and that, according to legend, it was invented for Manfred. Since this seems to be a persistent rumour, it may be worth mentioning, but it should not be taken seriously. Lothar von Richthofen (talk) 23:42, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Once one looks past the obvious schmaltzy sentimental appeal of the Red Baron being honored by a "missing man" formation, there are so many things wrong with the idea that it becomes ludicrous. Many of them are already mentioned above; in fact, I don't see any objection there to the flyover that I would disagree with. I do see one basic one unmentioned, though; why should British pilots pretend a German enemy was one of their own friends?

Formation flying was such a new concept during World War I that many WWI fliers did not accept it. Then when they did fly formation, it was not the tidy "finger four" adopted during World War II that we are used to seeing in movies and photos. It was usually just a gaggle of airplanes flying in proximity to one another. Just look at the photos from that era.

And speaking of photos, I have seen photos of Richthofen's funeral in progress, and no one is looking at the sky. Takes some awful heedless people for not a one to look up at airplanes buzzing them.

So, having written my offhand reactions, I turn to the reference. I find a webpage with no references, and no mentions of sources. It's a webpage with resonance for me; I had too many friend go missing during the Vietnam War. However, it's definitely not a reliable source for even a stated fact, much less a rumor.

My summary: if this unverified rumor is not removed by the end of this discussion, I will remove it. Reason: there is a boxcar load of nonsense about Richthofen, but Wikipedia doesn't have to spread any of it.

Georgejdorner (talk) 00:57, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

In the Babylon 5 season 3, episode 11 'ceremonies of light and dark' during the burial at space the missing man formation is performed by four of the space fighters in a very obvious and well-illustrated fashion at approximately 7 minutes into the show. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:23, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Rolling Honour Guard The description given is not fully coherent as it states that motorcycles are place "in tandem" "left and right". However tandem means in line one behind the other thus cannot be left and right. It maybe should say side by side, but I am not sure what formation is intended geometrically so it needs a more informed person to correct the text. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:51, 19 December 2016 (UTC)

What about spreading those rumors by telling that they are rumors? Rumors tell, that this kind of formation for Red Baron wasn't the first one ever flown, but the first one ever flown for an honored enemy - so it became legend. Rumors also tell, that any kind of those formations (with or without missing man) with those planes has to be possible, because the lack of board communication. But not while dog fighting, rather than to reach the battle as a group in steamy weathers. Those pilots always have to fly by sight and if you don't see anyone of your party, you won't possibly reach the battle not in a group. Those formations may be difficult to fly, but not really impossible. War machines invent anything, if they have to. If you don't believe me, believe that. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:36, 22 April 2017 (UTC)