Before we can fly we must learn to crawl, walk and run.
I recommend that you choose a relatively simple aircraft to begin you virtual air combat journey. Even if you have thousands of hours flying in the virtual world, there is great benefit in simplifying the aircraft used during training.
Of course, the software title you choose to fly will go a long way in determining the aircraft chosen.
This blog series and the accompanying online training will reference Digital Combat Simulator from Eagle Dynamics. The primary reason is that it provides that most easily configurable training environment and provides aircraft from the past one hundred years of air combat.
The first consideration is the physical equipment that you use to fly.
The primary concern is the ability to see the target. Coming from real world aviation, I believe virtual reality (VR) is the only way to go when it comes to flying on a personal computer. The experience is worth the degradation in visual clarity and the simplicity of “views” is a wonderful improvement. In the early days of virtual flying, one was required to map seventeen or more individual “views”. This used up valuable buttons on the joystick and throttle (HOTAS).
With virtual reality, where you look is determined by actually turning your head and looking, closely mimicking real life without the neck straining of high G maneuvers.
It is quite likely that if you have gotten this far in your dream of becoming a virtual fighter pilot that you own a serious gaming PC and may have already plunged into VR. Going forward I will assume this to be the case. If VR is beyond your means or desire, remember that no matter the “view” system in use, keeping sight of the target is of primary importance.
All basic fighter maneuvers are based upon maneuvering relative to the target. If you cannot see him, you have nothing to relate your maneuvers to.
If losing sight of the bandit in an engagement does not evoke a slightly panicked response, you do not understand the importance of keeping sight of the target.
Throughout this series I will introduce terminology. The terminology is important because it provides a common frame of reference. It is vital that you learn what the terms are defined as here. The internet is a big place and many of this terms will be defined differently. I will not get into the right or wrong of it. I will say my definitions are chosen for their utility in the online air combat environment.
Some of this terminology will be voice communication terms. In the military, this is known as “Brevity Code”. This name perfectly describes their purpose, to say briefly what would otherwise take many words.
Here are some pertinent examples.
“Friend” or “Friendly” is the brevity code for “An aerial target that have identified as friendly. Friendly in this context means “on the same team or side”.
“Bandit” is the brevity code for “An aerial target that have identified as hostile”. Hostile in this context means “ on the enemy team or side”.
“Bogey” is the brevity code for “An aerial target that I cannot or have not identified”.
“Tally” or “Tally Ho” is the brevity code for “I see an aerial target that is either a bogey or bandit.
“No Joy” is the brevity code for “I do not see an aerial target that is either a bogey or bandit.
“Visual” is the brevity code for “I see an aerial target that have identified as friendly. Friendly in this context means “on the same team or side”.
“Blind” is the brevity code for “I do not see an aerial target that have identified as friendly. Friendly in this context means “on the same team or side”.