Primary Maneuvers are maneuvers performed without reference to another aircraft.
The main purpose of this section is to clarify the concepts of lift, drag, thrust, and weight. It is not necessary for virtual pilots to have a complete understanding of the four forces.
The relative wind acting on the airplane produces a certain amount of force which is called the total aerodynamic force. This force can be resolved into components, called lift and drag.
Lift is the component of aerodynamic force perpendicular to the relative wind. This is also referred to as the lift vector in tactical discussions.
Drag is the component of aerodynamic force parallel to the relative wind.
Weight is the force directed downward from the center of mass of the airplane towards the center of the earth. It is proportional to the mass of the airplane times the strength of the gravitational field.
Thrust is the force produced by the engine or engines. It is directed forward along the axis of the engine (which is usually parallel to the long axis of the airplane).
Taxi Takeoff and Landings
The information in this section is here for review only. If you are having trouble with Taxi, Takeoff, Climbs, Descents and Landings you should arrange private training in these areas prior to beginning the Basic Fighter Maneuvers syllabus
In Digital Combat Simulator, we must be concerned with the possibility of collision. This means we should strive to operate in a fairly standardized fashion when on or near the airfield or carrier.
Some basic information is helpful prior to taxi. Most importantly, we need to determine the route to the runway. The kneeboard has airport charts but often the easiest method is to use the F2 – Aircraft view, zoom out and look around. Get oriented to where you are and where you want to go.
Once you arrive at the runway, make sure your aircraft is set for departure.
If you are operating in multiplayer, common courtesy would dictate making a radio call on the published Common Traffic frequency. WHO, WHERE, WHAT is all you need. An example: “DAWGER, Single F18, departing two-six at Kutaisi”.
This is the only call you need to make on departure. You will hear taxi calls and calls after takeoff but they are not necessary. No one really cares if you are taxying and if there isn’t a smoking hole in the runway, no one really cares that you successfully took off.
Arriving back at the airfield is a different story.
The Overhead Pattern
We are pretending to be fighter pilots. A primary rule of fighter pilots, real or pretend, is to look cool while doing whatever it is you are doing. The traffic pattern for landing is the place where everyone is watching you. Don’t fly a ten mile straight in approach unless doing otherwise would require you to eject. Don’t fly any version of a traffic pattern that resembles anything a tanker, transport or civilian aircraft might fly. We are online. Death is temporary. Go fast, pull lots of G’s.
Fly the overhead pattern. It isn’t hard, looks cool, hones your skills and marks you as the sort of aggressive go-getter all the hot chicks go for.
Here is the FAA diagram of the overhead pattern. Ignore the numbers (Except for the 180 one). Fly the pattern.
Here is the procedure.
Fly to initial point. How high? Above the ground. How fast? As fast as you have fuel for. How far out? 1 mile to 3 miles is plenty.
When you reach your initial point make your radio call. (In a game with collisions ON, voice calls are helpful for collision avoidance but remember, SEE and AVOID is the rule in the real world and online. Never rely on the radio for collision avoidance) “WHO, WHERE, WHAT. “Dawger, Initial for the LEFT OVERHEAD, Runway Two-Six, Kutaisi”
That is all anyone needs to know.
Fly to the BREAK. Where? Anywhere from the approach end to a mile past the departure end of the landing runway. The farther down the runway you break, the more time you have on downwind you have.
BREAK 180 degrees in the direction you stated earlier. Most aircraft will require idle power and the speed brakes to slow down from the speed of heat to something resembling configuration speed. Configuration speed is the speed at which you can configure for landing. Ideally, at the end of your 180 degree break, you will be at 600-800 feet on downwind leg, at a speed which allows dropping gear and flaps for landing.
Get configured for landing and fly on downwind until abeam your intended landing point. Count to at least 5 slowly. Longer is okay as long as you don’t end up wings level on final for more than 30 seconds. After your count, the landing spot should be about 45 degrees behind your 3-9 line. Start your curved turn to final. One smooth turn to final.
Make your base call 90 degrees through this turn. WHO, WHERE, WHAT
“Dawger, Base, Gear Down, Full Stop, Runway Two-Six, Kutaisi”
Full stop tells everyone you plan to stop and exit the runway. If you plan, to touch and go, say that. If you plan a low approach, say that.
If you are practicing touch and go landings and will remain in the pattern you do not need to start the pattern all over at initial. After touching down, get airborne again and start the turn to downwind where speed and altitude permit and then pick up the pattern from the downwind leg again.
If you do a full stop landing and you know there is traffic behind you, call clear of the runway as a courtesy. It is hard to see in aircraft on the runway in VR.
Stalls and Spins
Any time you push the plane to the limits of its performance you have to be aware of the possibility of stalling the aircraft. High performance turns and maneuvers at the edge of “the envelope” of the plane’s capabilities need to be performed with care. If you push the plane beyond its abilities, the plane may rebel. The experienced pilot learns the limits of aircraft and learns to “fly the edge of the envelope”.
If you push the plane too hard you can stall the aircraft. A stall can cause the plane to enter a spin. The pilot has to react quickly to regain control of his aircraft, or it may well enter a spin from which the plane cannot recover.
What is a Stall?
A stall is when the wing stops generating lift. A “stall” occurs when the airflow over the wing (or other surface) is disrupted to the point where it no longer generates lift. This is measured by “angle of attack” (AoA or “Alpha”) which is defined by the angle between the chord line of the wing (the line through the cross section from the trailing edge to the leading edge) and the relative wind. When you exceed the critical angle of attack, the wing will stop making lift and stall. This can happen in any configuration, altitude or airspeed.
In simple terms, when you are flying too slow, or trying to turn or maneuver too hard, the wing may no longer be able to generate lift. A stall results.
There are three types of stalls
Power on stalls – A stall with engine power at 1 G (G = Gravitational Force) Power off stalls – A stall without engine power at 1 G
Accelerated stalls – A stall at greater than 1 G
The critical angle of attack of a specific wing never changes. The wing will always stall when that critical Angle is exceeded. The difference is the airspeed that the wing stalls is due to the factors that play into achieving that critical angle of attack. In a 1 G power off stall the critical angle of attack is achieved at a low airspeed and a relatively low nose attitude (Usually 10-12 above the horizon)
In a power on stall in a propeller driven aircraft the critical angle of attack occurs at a much higher deck angle above the horizon because the propeller wash is generating lift over the wing, effectively lowering the angle of attack.
In an accelerated stall the wing can stall at any nose attitude or airspeed. The G force applied to the aircraft increases the angular difference between the wing chord line and relative wind thus increasing the angle of attack. Thus the accelerated stall can occur at any speed based upon the G force applied. The G force required to stall the wing is generally expressed by the following equation:
Stall speed at X G force equals the 1 G stall speed times the square root of the G force.
Thus the stall speed at a constant 4 G force is approximately twice that of the 1 G stall speed.
This means that a P38 with an un-accelerated stall speed of 90 MPH will stall at approximately 180 MPH in a 4 G accelerated condition.
What is a Spin?
A spin is a stall with a component of rotation around the yaw axis. This rotation is usually initiated by entering the stall in an uncoordinated condition (too much or too little rudder). As the rotation develops the aircraft nose tends to rise as the stall condition deepens. Once the aircraft completes 2 to 5 rotations the nose attitude becomes very flat. This is known as a flat spin and is unrecoverable in some aircraft types.
Warning Signs of an Impending Stall
The Stall Horn – This is a warning horn that lets you know when you are nearing the edge of a stall. The louder it gets the closer the critical angle of attack (stall). The Stall Horn was installed for a reason – ignore it at your own risk! It is also very handy to use judgement of the volume of the stall horn to gauge how much performance you are getting from the plane in a high G maneuver.
Recognize the stall- One or both wings quit producing lift causing an abrupt downward motion
React quickly – the sooner you react to the stall the better the chances of recovery.
Push the stick forward gently – try to get the nose down to regain airspeed so that the wings can regain lift.
If rotation accompanies the stall you are in a spin. Apply opposite rudder. This may be hard to judge. Look outside. Step on the rudder on the side where the world is disappearing on the windshield. If the world is moving from left to right, right rudder is required and vice-versa. Once the spin starts to slow down, you are on your way to recovering from the spin. You can also use the slip indicator (little black ball) to gauge this. Step on the ball. If the ball is to the left of the two lines step on left rudder.
Things not to do!
Overreact! – Don’t overreact to a slight stall – that may cause the stall to become worse!
Pull back on the stick! – Pulling back on the stick when you feel your plane beginning to stall is just going to make the impending stall and spin worse. No matter how tempting – don’t do it! To the beginner pilot, pulling back on the stick seems the “natural” thing to do. Don’t follow instinct. Follow training. Push the stick forward, get the nose down and apply opposite rudder; get that airspeed back up and regain normal flight.
The chandelle is a climbing turn used to maximize altitude gain while turning. It is most often used to keep sight of the enemy while maintaining or building energy for future maneuver.
Technique is fairly simple. A roll of about 30 degrees is initiated followed by a low G pull up. This results in a climbing turn. The maximum pitch angle should be reached at 90 degrees of turn. This angle should be held for the remaining 90 degrees of turn. During the second 90 degrees of turn the bank angle is gradually shallowed until the aircraft arrives at 180 degrees of turn and should be just above stall speed. This is the technique used in training. In combat situations the chandelle may vary somewhat due to conditions and the speed at the top of the maneuver should be considerably higher to preserve maneuvering capability.
Technique – Again fairly simple. Move the stick to one side causing the ailerons to deflect which rotates the aircraft around it’s long axis. To stop the roll the stick is moved in the other direction. It will be necessary to correct slightly past center on the stick to overcome the inertia of the rolling aircraft.
Types of rolls
Quarter rolls- A 90 degree roll. Four of them get you where you started. Half Rolls– 180 degree roll. Two of them get you where you started. Full Rolls– 360 right around where you started.
Of course there are many different possible rolls but these are the ones we will use to define our maneuvers.
A loop is a circle flown in the vertical plane.
Full loop = Full Circle
Half Loop = Half Circle
Loops may be performed up or down.
Technique for a loop is fairly simple. Just pull back on the stick. The trick is to modulate the backpressure on the stick to maintain the proper G force during the maneuver. An Airshow loop must be a perfect circle. In order to achieve that the aircraft will be at zero G as it comes over the top of the loop. In combat situations we aren’t concerned with how the loop looks. We are more concerned with positioning the aircraft for the kill. But be careful. Too much G force and the aircraft will stall and spin. Also, you must have sufficient speed to complete the planned loop before you start or you will stall.
A Split S is simply a Half – Roll followed by a Half Loop. Starting from the upright position roll the aircraft upside down then pull back on the stick until in level flight again. Be careful, this maneuver requires considerable altitude to complete.
An Immelman is simply a Half Loop followed by a Half roll. From the upright position pull back on the stick performing the first half of a loop. When upside down at the top of the loop, roll the aircraft upright.
The simplest break turn is the horizontal break. A bandit or hostile is approaching from your 5 o clock at your altitude. A proper break turn means you roll the aircraft so that the lift vector is in line with the horizon or below and you pull on the stick. Always roll toward the bandit.
Bandit at your right 5 o’clock means a right roll.
This is what it looks like from the pilot seat. You spot the attacker out your six view at 5 o’clock. Stay in six view. Roll toward the attacker until he is in your high six view then pull back on the stick to put him high in the straight up view.
Hammerhead or Stall Turn
The hammerhead turn or Stall Turn is a simple maneuver to describe but difficult to perfect. It is executed by climbing in the pure vertical (straight up) at full power. As the speed bleeds off to near zero full rudder is applied to cause the aircraft to rotate around its center of gravity and the result is the nose is pointed towards the ground.
The difficulty comes in countering the torque of the engine as the aircraft slows the gyroscopic effects as the aircraft rotates and in timing the maneuver properly.
The snap roll is rotation about the roll axis of the aircraft induced by an accelerated, uncoordinated stall. To perform a snap roll the pilot applies full back stick while simultaneously applying full rudder. This causes the wing on the rudder side to stall while the opposite wing remains partially unstalled due to its greater forward speed. The end result is a very quick rotation around the longitudinal or roll axis.
The snap roll is a difficult maneuver to master but it builds confidence in stall/spin recovery technique and can be used in combat in a very desperate situation to force an overshoot.
Up to this point all maneuvers have been described in either the vertical or horizontal plane. Of course, there are an infinite number of maneuver planes available. The name applied to these infinite planes is oblique. Oblique maneuver is any maneuver not performed in the pure vertical or pure horizontal plane.
The chandelle is an example of an oblique maneuver.