Aerial Operations

Hansen Aerospace Aerial Operations services are comprised of Aerial Photography and Advanced Flight Training programs.

Advanced Flight Training programs are comprised of the following three areas:

Aerial Photography

Hansen Aerospace utilizes our G3 aircraft as our primary aerial photography platform. With a 300 knot redline and 220 knot cruise speed the G3 is extremely versatile and compatible for flying formation with military fighters, heavy transports, airliners, corporate jets, Cessna 172s, and everything in between.

With up to four simultaneous external camera mounts and in cockpit repeaters for each camera we have the ability to compose, format, and frame optimum pictures on the fly.

On civilian shoots one of our experienced, prior military formation pilots, flies the client’s airplane for the formation portion of the photo shoot.

High quality photo shoots require very precise flying to maintain exacting relative position and keep the target airplane in position for optimum camera angles and distances through climbs, descents, and ever changing bank angles. Close formation affords us some very unique photographic options but also leaves little margin for error and should always be left to a professional formation pilot.

Producing aerial photos that stand out and pop doesn’t just happen. It requires extensive planning, coordination, and exacting execution.

Once detailed planning is complete, all photo shoots are thoroughly briefed to include every aspect of the flight. Among others, these include communications, taxi, takeoff and climb out procedures, rejoin speeds and altitudes, photo composition objectives, multiple shoot setups with backdrops, terrain features, cloud formations, and sun angles.

Cameras must continuously be reset for exposure compensation, depth of field for background blurring, shutter speeds and f-stops for prop effects, and stabilization settings to maintain sharpness with slow shutter speeds.

Great aerial photography, whether stills or video, requires precise coordination, execution, and communication by the lead pilot, camera and systems operator, formation chase pilot, and the aircraft owner/operator.

When it all comes together a good photo shoot is nothing short of an aerial symphony with perfect harmony. These are flights that make for great pictures and videos for our customers.

Air Race Qualification Training

Pilots who wish to compete in the Reno National Championship Air Races will need to demonstrate a high level of formation proficiency in some very challenging and demanding environments.

Racing at Reno is among the most demanding flying anywhere in the world, including the military. The margin for error at full-throttle, high speeds, 50 feet off the desert floor, 80 degree bank and four-G turns, in tight “uncooperative formation” with eight other airplanes, in moderate to severe turbulence, is as challenging as it gets.

The pilots who qualify and compete are demanding of themselves and others and continuously strive for excellence from themselves, their machines, and those who race along side them. These are the “golden hands” of aviation with many having raced every year for over a decade without incident.

To be invited to race at Reno, pilots must first race-qualify by attending and graduating from the 5-day Reno Air Race, Pylon Racing Seminar (PRS) usually held in early June. The course includes pre-PRS study materials on everything from course procedures, restrictions, extensive formation procedures, the “formation contract”, emergency procedures, best practices on the race course, FAA waiver authorizations, their requirements, and much more.

Flight operations at PRS usually include two to three (or more) flights per day, up to five rides with a check/race pilot as an observer and all flights are evaluated by other race instructor pilots in the flight or by an overhead observer. Instruction from these seasoned and experienced racer IPs is world class with pre-flight briefings executed similar to military tactical fighter briefs. Starts, taxi, takeoffs are timed and executed to the second and flying is flown to similar exacting standards.

If Reno Racing is in your sights Hansen Aerospace offers a short or long course designed to hone your formation skills while introducing you to race procedures and execution standards, on the ground and in the air. Training can run continuously until reaching proficiency. Alternatively, some pilots prefer training be broken down into a few flights to define standards, procedures, and demonstrate areas needing improvement allowing students to return home, practice and build proficiency before returning for further instruction.

When your flying skills reach a standard that will allow you to pass the PRS evaluation you will be recommended to the Reno Air Race class president for PRS attendance.

All of our instructor pilots hold ATP ratings and are current and qualified Reno Air Race pilots or are former military fighter pilots proficient to PRS performance standards.

Advanced Formation Aerobatic Training

Our Advanced Formation Aerobatic course is designed for pilots who want to expand their aerobatic and formation skills to include over-the-top formation aerobatic maneuvers. Course objectives focus on building your proficiency in formation barrel rolls and loops while in fingertip, echelon, and close trail.

The course is designed for pilots who fly the Glasair I, II, and IIIs, Lancair, Siai Marchetti SF-260, T-51 & Thunder Mustang, Harmon Rocket, Quest Air, SX-300, Berkut, L-39 or the S-211 jets, and other aerobatic capable “fast movers.”

Before starting, pilots should be able to demonstrate basic aerobatic proficiency in left and right aileron rolls, barrel rolls, and loops. Pilots should also be proficient in formation maneuvers to include station keeping in left and right fingertip with turns to 30 degrees of bank, echelon turns away, straight and level abeam, and close trail.

If these maneuvers have some lingering bad habits we can clean those up as well.

The objective of the advanced formation course is to build your proficiency in the two formation maneuvers that are at the foundation of most formation aerobatics, the left and right formation barrel roll, and formation loop. For those with the basic formation skills listed above, the move to over-the-top formation is usually a straight forward process requiring proficiency in a few new procedures and understanding of a few new concepts to operate safely.

For aerobatic pilots, once these formation inverted maneuvers are performed several times there is a “light bulb moment” and they are hooked. Over-the-top formation is a very rare and special skill set that will be as exhilarating and rewarding as was your first solo or first aileron roll, except the exhilaration returns each time.

Military Preparatory Flight Training

Congratulations!!! You’ve been accepted to the USAF or USN pilot program and are on your way to becoming an Air Force Pilot or a Naval Aviator with wings of GOLD.

If your objective is to be awarded tactical fighters upon graduation, or you want to improve your class standing, Hansen Aerospace’s military pilot prep program is specifically designed to improve your grades, raise your class ranking, and help you move toward the top of your class.

In military flight school each new phase of instruction is usually accompanied by a shock factor, the feeling of being overwhelmed while simultaneously feeling pressured to perform to a high standard to stay competitive. Whether its your first ILS instrument approach under “the hood”, pulling 4g on your first loop, or flying uncomfortably close formation with other aircraft, our objective is to remove the stun factor everyone experiences the first time they are presented with something totally new.

The first time you experience 5-g all learning stops! Your body’s instinct is to become totally defensive to manage this strange new feeling of over 1,000 pounds pushing you into your seat. Flying the airplane, looking over your shoulder for traffic, listening to the radio or the instructor on the intercom, it all ends. By experiencing each new flight phase ahead of time, the unproductive and disorienting “dear in the headlights” first flight ride in each phase will be left for the other students.

The experience you take from our program should provide you with an advantage over other students in your class for at least the first three to four rides in each new phase, and frequently give you a leg up throughout the phase. “Having been there before” provides you with a huge advantage over those experiencing something for the first time.


  • We recommend our students be within 4 months of going on active duty, whether that is attending Officer Candidate School or starting Air Force UPT or Navy Flight Training.
  • Students should have soloed and have at least 20 hours of total flight time before starting the program with us.
  • A Private Pilot license is preferred but not required. Students with more than 150 hours will benefit as much or more than low time students.

Instruction is tailored to each student’s capabilities and focuses on quickly building a basic level of proficiency in each of these five areas.

  • Navigation – visual and instrument
  • Instrument flying and instrument approaches
  • Formation – fingertip, root, echelon, close trail, extended trail
  • Aerobatics and g-tolerance
    – Aileron roll, barrel roll, loop, immelmann, split-s, among others
    – Sustained 4-g turns with increasing duration, controlled excursions in and out of 6-g
  • Airport traffic pattern overhead arrivals

Typical training flights, in our fast and nimble G3 aircraft with full glass avionics suite, will combine at least three of these basics and frequently all five in each flight. Our approach is to maximize your exposure to multiple events in a short time to keep the learning curve steep. This helps to build the “big picture” in each phase so you can launch out of the starting gate in each phase in your military pilot training and stay ahead of your competition.

All our pilots are former USN and USAF pilots with experience in A-10, F-15, F-4, most Boeing airliners. Average time of each of our pilots is over 20,000 hours. Additionally, experience includes time at NASA, Airshow performances, and flying in the Reno National Championship Air Races.

You will know we did our job when your military instructor’s comment in the debrief, after the first flight of each new phase is, “Lieutenant, you are either gifted, or you’ve done this before.”

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Some Kinds Words from Some of our Clients…

“Initially, getting closer than 50’ to another airplane seemed unnatural. Rick brought a level of skill, guidance, and safety that made me increasingly comfortable. My formation training has been exciting, challenging, fun, and the key to opening a whole new world of flying for me!”

– Russell Sherwood
Subaru powered Glasair I RG
Competed in 22 S.A.R.L. air races
Undefeated class speed holder