Although sometimes conducted as a "missing man formation," in which a particular position or slot for an aircraft is empty, it is much more likely that the formation is a simple V or diamond formation. The formation usually descends to a pre-planned altitude and slows to a safe airspeed to conduct the fly-by. Once the formation has flown away, they will break formation on the flight leader's command and according to plan.
Unfortunately, some agencies conduct more funeral fly-bys than others. In the New York metropolitan area for example, the NYPD typically performs four to five a year. The spirit of cooperation and fraternity is always evident. In addition to the NYPD, the agencies that are always represented are the Nassau County Police Dept, the Suffolk County Police Dept., the New York State Police and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police.
The funeral of a fellow officer is certainly among the saddest of duties performed. Every police aviator takes tremendous pride in the fact that they have shown the officer's family and the entire world the tribute and honor in which the officer's life should be celebrated.