If you are anything like me, you pretty much already know how to fly, so you tend to want to the fly the airplane right out the metaphorical ‘box’, and ‘wring her out’, as Chuck Yeager & Jack Ridley, liked to say, at least in the blockbuster move, The Right Stuff, and get it all sorted out later, by reading the manual ‘in depth’ after the fact. I have been soooo guilty of that. Of course, in the real world, it’s not done like that and for obvious reasons. First and foremost, you’ll most likely succeed in killing yourself. Not to mention material cost to the aircraft owners, ie’the people. One of the great things is that we can cheat. Sort of. Because we can often miss things during the process, so it catches up with us.
DCS: Ka-50Black Shark,(Boxed!) was where I really began with The Fighter Collection and I don’t mind telling you that the flight manual and tutorials on You Tube, were an absolute must, in no small degree, because I have never flown a helicopter in my life, ‘real world’ or otherwise. It was definitely ‘a process’. I crashed a lot. Like in Lawrence Of Arabia, ‘..The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.” The same applies to crashes. Persisitance eventually paid off, and I got the ‘hang of it’.
I pretty much followed the same mantra with regards to the DCS: A-10C Warthog, particularly with regards to Weapons and Navigation systems. In the case of the Warthog, I rarely crashed, and when I did , it was because I was ‘pressing a target’, crashing into it . (When ‘Bitchin’Betty’, says “PULL UP!; she means right, the hell NOW!) I pretty much referred to the book. But, time passed like it always does, and over time, I got more and more comfortable and competent with Warthog by the time DCS: P-51D Mustang, was introduced, I did not need as much ‘book learnin,’ as where I started out. I spent a fair amount of time behind the controls of a 1958 C-172 and even 25 minutes in the right seat of a U. S. Navy P-3C, set up by my good friend Lt. Bob Howde USNR, Bombardier/Navigator on Douglas A-3 Sky Warrior aka, The Whale.” I being already familiar with such concepts as Manifold Pressure, Inches of Mercury, magnetos, left, right bank…yadda yadda…, I need only a few pointers concerning ‘tail draggers’, and it was off to the races for me.
There is an old saying, so old I don’t even know who said it, ‘Familiarity, breeds contempt.'(I’m someone out there , has the answer!)So it goes in the world of high fidelity air combat simulation, be cause that methodology catches up with you in the long run. For me personally, I found holes in my detailed knowledge of a particular type in one way or another and as a result found myself having to go ‘back into the book’, when the truth be told, I didn’t really read the book in the first place. Not to the degree that I would were I in a ‘real’ flight training program, and certainly not to the degree I would focus if my life were on the line. Throw in the fact that there is instructor to help maintain focus, and it’s easy to slack off. Because of that , I decided to take a different approach, and learn it the way the developers intended us to and take a more structured approach. Once I decided that, I only had to decide which module would be first. I decided on M2000C.
The best place to start is at the beginning of course. Since the M2000C was a ‘early access ‘, available, , Training Missions and publications, ie. flight manuals were a WIP. Therefore, “Chuck’s Guides” and online YouTube video tutorials, went a long way towards facilitating getting the bird in the air. Still, it was a less than ideal way to learn it. Eventually, as the module progressed, a training mission page was added and while it is far from perfect, I found it useful as a learning vehicle. Before that, I suggest that the user/player, make use of the book, particularly if one doesn’t speak Francais’. All cockpit labeling is in that language; for instance SLATS are expressed as BECS, so beware, non-French speakers. The good news is that , the interactive tutorial is available in English, even though the ‘Instructor’ has a French accent(Which I consider a nice touch, though I would have preferred female, for a change.)
The Training Mission is divided into several segments. They are: Cold & Dark Startup, Introduction To INS, Navigation and ILS Landing. The tutorials are completely interactive and pause capable when needed, and very easy to use. The use of visual highlights complimented by verbal coaching, accompanied by brief but informative explanations are helpful and left little if any ambiguity. In many ways, the cold and dark’ segment is actual is the real intro to the INS, as the pilot must align same as part of the startup procedure. Introduction To INS, should be viewed as much more than a detailed refresher, which while it does delve a little more into the ‘nuts and bolts’, of how it works, and more information with regards to the stark differences between GPS and INS operation, it goes far beyond, by showing the user, how to modify existing waypoints, and just as important, adding new ones , as well as updating the INS, which will undergo a phenomenon called Integration Drift one mile for every hour flown.
The various operating modes of the navigation system, and it’s heart the PCN, with a large multi-position Mode Selector Knob to access the aforementioned functions to enable waypoint selection and navigation methods, including course-off sets for precision weapons delivery. This particular phase did require a couple of run-throughs before I got to the point that I feel comfortable with it. I cannot overstress how vital it is to become reasonably competent, especially for Air to Ground for maximum effect. Having said that , I would suggest occasional refreshers to maintain and improve skill sets. It’s very easy to fall into the habit taking the ‘easy way out’ and practicing what you ‘like’ as opposed to what you need. With the M2000C, I personally prefer air to air over air to ground, so naturally I tend towards my preference.
The ability to select alternate landing fields, which dovetails rather nicely in the ILS Landing portion, can come in handy particularly when combat damage requires an emergency landing, somewhere. Oh sure, I have been flying around in DCS World long enough to fly anywhere in it by dead reckoning but it is still very satisfying to learn the proper way. One of the coolest features of the planes is it’s ability to land in near ‘zero-zero, visibility conditions, ‘ possible because of the ILS function on the HUD. It provides intuitive vector lines and the outline of the appropriate runway. Nice. I recommend that landing this way should be practiced as often as possible. Some type scheduling may be in order as one way of establishing good habits, along these lines. In the next segment, I’ll be tackling combat ops, following the in-game training regimen, and supplementing it with every vid, I can find. Until then, Au Revoir.