My friend Bruce Williams was through 15 years at Microsoft one of the main figures behind the development of Microsoft Flight Simulator. (Yes, I also know and love X-Plane.) For much longer than that he has been an accomplished pilot, flight instructor, and aviation writer.

Here is a video he has just posted showing a from-the-cockpit view of a close-formation training flight. It's shot over the Nevada desert, and it is full of surprising touches -- for instance, an aerial view of a big solar-power facility.

One sign to me (of many) of my own amateur-only status as a pilot is my goal of staying as far away as possible from any other aircraft that might be in the sky, rather than crowding right next to them as in this clip. Another sign is that while I have done aerobatic flights for safety training I don't really like them or think they're fun, and prefer to get the airplane as uneventfully as possible from point A to point B. But this video, which first makes me think "I would never do that!" after a while gives rise to thoughts of, "Wow, they can do that!"

After the jump, a description by Williams of what we're seeing in the clip. Worth watching for the gee-whiz factor. And, as he pointed out to me, it's a break from depressing political news.

Bruce Williams writes:

Here's a YouTube video of a formation practice flight from Tuesday morning [two days ago] near Boulder City, NV (KBVU).

This was a two-ship flight with my primary formation-flying mentor. He flew F-4s, F-5s, and F-16s in the Air Force after serving as a T-38 instructor. He has lots of experience teaching formation flying (and as you'll see in videos to come, the basics of air combat maneuvers--his last assignment in the Air Force was as an Agressor squadron commander, playing the bad guys to train US and allied fighter pilots at Red Flag, etc.).

Lead was in his RV-6A. Another Extra, this one a 330LX (the newest model and successor to the 300L that I fly), joined us for a little while. That red airplane was flown by another Air Force fighter pilot. He flies F-15s in a test squadron at Nellis AFB. We coordinated the rendezvous before the flight, and lead cleared him in after we established contact in the air. He stayed just a little while before he headed off for the rest of his planned flight.