An organizational echelon identified as a flight is often used within the Air Force. For tactical purposes, two or more airplanes form a "flight." AFI 38-101 (1994) describes a numerically designated flight as "the lowest unit level in the Air Force," and points out that flights are used to incorporate smaller elements into an organized unit. Numbered flights are units.
Frequently mistaken for a unit, however, are unnumbered or alphabetically designated flights such as Flight A of a fighter squadron. In combat, a flight usually consists of four or more planes that fly in pairs, trios, or fours. One plane, the flight leader, contains the flight commander who directs the operations of the entire flight. These flights, sometimes known as "alpha" or "functional" flights are organizational shredouts of a squadron and are not units in their own right. They are used simply to distinguish several elements of a squadron that have similar missions.
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