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OG_Rosco

Formation flying - does it get any better with time?

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Hello to all fellow seasoned virtual pilots out there,

 

I've been practicing formation flying for several hours now (by following an AI leader), and I got to a point where I can, more-or-less,  hold my relative position for an extended period of time, even during turns.  However, I am constantly fiddling with throttle, rudder and joystick input,  correcting, over-correcting, and correcting again, especially during a turn.

 

I remember when my dad taught me how to drive,  he would chastise me if I corrected my steering wheel position after entering a curve.  He said something on the lines of "if the curve is well designed, you should turn your wheel, find the 'sweet spot', and maintain that position until you exit the curve - if my head boobs laterally during the curve (as a result of corrections), you are doing it wrong".  I learnt the skill, noting that on many cars, the steering wheel gives a very discrete feedback in the form of a minor resistance when reaching the sweet spot.

 

So, I have a pair of questions regarding this topic,

 

1. Should it be like in a car?  In other words, should I aim in trying to develop that "sweet-spot" finding, -even in the absence of force feedback-, or should I aim for unconscious, constant control fiddling?

2. When I hold my position during a turn,  my turn coordination indicator always shows I'm slipping (I mainly use rudder to correct if my relative horizontal position drifts).  If I attempt to coordinate my turn and center the ball, I invariably lose my formation position. Is this normal or is it an indicator that I'm doing it wrong? I'm assuming that the leader is performing a coordinated turn, so I would guess my turn should be coordinated too.

 

Cheers!

 

Sergio

 

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You flying in VR? formation in VR is very realistic, and throttle and joystick adjustments has to be made all the time, in real formation flying or in the sim.

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2 hours ago, sgorozco37 said:

Hello to all fellow seasoned virtual pilots out there,

 

I've been practicing formation flying for several hours now (by following an AI leader), and I got to a point where I can, more-or-less,  hold my relative position for an extended period of time, even during turns.  However, I am constantly fiddling with throttle, rudder and joystick input,  correcting, over-correcting, and correcting again, especially during a turn.

 

 

Make small corrections. A few techniques...light pressure on the stick don't try to squeeze it so hard that buttons pop off.

1) It would help immensely to have your airplane trimmed up (trimmed for hands off straight and level flight) for the airspeed you're flying. 

2) Try wiggling your fingers (takes the tension out of your hand) periodically.

2) Wiggle your toes periodically.

4) One RL technique that some guys taught in USAF UPT was while in close formation to "stir the stick" in a very small/tiny circle.  

 

Close formation flying is hard WORK requiring constant correction. Tactical formation is much easier.

Edited by busdriver
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41 minutes ago, busdriver said:

 

Make small corrections. A few techniques...light pressure on the stick don't try to squeeze it so hard that buttons pop off.

1) It would help immensely to have your airplane trimmed up (trimmed for hands off straight and level flight) for the airspeed you're flying. 

2) Try wiggling your fingers (takes the tension out of your hand) periodically.

2) Wiggle your toes periodically.

4) One RL technique that some guys taught in USAF UPT was while in close formation to "stir the stick" in a very small/tiny circle.  

 

Close formation flying is hard WORK requiring constant correction. Tactical formation is much easier.

I find that with computer joysticks stirring the stick is almost impossible, either the stick is far too resistant to such maneuvers or it's too sensitive.

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The major problem in close formations is judging the closing speed and distances though that is supposedly easier in VR.   I find the most important lesson is to avoid large movement of the throttle. You cannot just zoom into the correct position then instantly drop down to your leaders airspeed so you must make allowances for how long it will take you to bleed off excess speed by doing the final approach very slowly.    With a human leader it helps if he advised you what speed he is maintaining and keeps it steady.  With AI they wont tell you but they do at least hold it very steady.  If you are flying an online mission with AI and it has an airstart then you will already be at the correct speed so make a note of what that is before disengaging autopilot.   They will usually return to that speed whenever they are cruising.   Similarly, do not make large rolling movements to adjust your spacing. For small adjustments try using your rudder only.     One last tip that may not be recommended by RL instructors is that if I see I am about to overshoot my leader when rejoining,  I use large left & right rudder inputs to wag my tail which kills speed fast.

 

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15 hours ago, II./JG77_motoadve said:

You flying in VR? formation in VR is very realistic, and throttle and joystick adjustments has to be made all the time, in real formation flying or in the sim.

Hi JG77, thanks for your reply. Yes, I'm flying in VR and indeed, I find it much easier in general than when I played the original Sturmovik simulator, using a hat-switch to change my views.  I think it has to do mostly with depth perception as I remember trying 3D with anaglyph glasses and it improved  my gunnery skills quite noticeably.  It is valuable to know that the path I must seek is that of constant adjustments.  I suppose that with enough practice, the adjustments become minor and -hopefully- subconscious.   

 

Cheers!

S

15 hours ago, busdriver said:

 

Make small corrections. A few techniques...light pressure on the stick don't try to squeeze it so hard that buttons pop off.

1) It would help immensely to have your airplane trimmed up (trimmed for hands off straight and level flight) for the airspeed you're flying. 

2) Try wiggling your fingers (takes the tension out of your hand) periodically.

2) Wiggle your toes periodically.

4) One RL technique that some guys taught in USAF UPT was while in close formation to "stir the stick" in a very small/tiny circle.  

 

Close formation flying is hard WORK requiring constant correction. Tactical formation is much easier.

Hi busdriver, thank you very much for the tips!  

That "stirring the stick" sounds promising and very sound advice, I'll give it a try.

Cheers!

 

S

14 hours ago, JimTM said:

A couple of tips:

Hi Jim!

Thank you very much for your relaxing tip and for those videos.  I have learnt A LOT from Requiem's videos, yet I somehow missed the existence of formation tutorial videos entirely.

Cheers!

S

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15 hours ago, busdriver said:

 

...

1) It would help immensely to have your airplane trimmed up (trimmed for hands off straight and level flight) for the airspeed you're flying. 

...

 

Should you trim during turns (short or long)?

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14 hours ago, JonRedcorn said:

I find that with computer joysticks stirring the stick is almost impossible, either the stick is far too resistant to such maneuvers or it's too sensitive.

 

That is certainly an important point.  :salute: A player might have a sensitivity curve that allows "stirring." I could stir the stick when I used a floor mounted Warthog stick, not so much when it was set up like the RL F-16. I recently switched to the Logitech X-56 with no sensitivity curve, there is some play in the stick, but I find just using a three finger grip with a light touch works for me (without the need to stir). 

 

9 hours ago, 56RAF_Roblex said:

One last tip that may not be recommended by RL instructors is that if I see I am about to overshoot my leader when rejoining,  I use large left & right rudder inputs to wag my tail which kills speed fast.

 

I like that technique except I just stand on and hold the rudder pedal that yaws my nose away from the flight path (not across). Your technique is a very good RL signal whilst towing gliders telling the glider pilot that he has his speedbrakes deployed. :salute:

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8 hours ago, 56RAF_Roblex said:

The major problem in close formations is judging the closing speed and distances though that is supposedly easier in VR.   I find the most important lesson is to avoid large movement of the throttle. You cannot just zoom into the correct position then instantly drop down to your leaders airspeed so you must make allowances for how long it will take you to bleed off excess speed by doing the final approach very slowly.    With a human leader it helps if he advised you what speed he is maintaining and keeps it steady.  With AI they wont tell you but they do at least hold it very steady.  If you are flying an online mission with AI and it has an airstart then you will already be at the correct speed so make a note of what that is before disengaging autopilot.   They will usually return to that speed whenever they are cruising.   Similarly, do not make large rolling movements to adjust your spacing. For small adjustments try using your rudder only.     One last tip that may not be recommended by RL instructors is that if I see I am about to overshoot my leader when rejoining,  I use large left & right rudder inputs to wag my tail which kills speed fast.

 

Hi Roblex, thanks for your tips too!

I have developed  more or less my throttle control (keeping steady distance a few feet away from the leader), although sometimes it happens that the AI can drop speed so fast, that I overshoot even if drop my throttle to idle (this typically happens on bombing missions, when nearing the target area), this is where probably  your rudder-jiggling trick may come handy!.  Where I struggle the most is in keeping my relative formation position, especially during turns. I am constantly using rudder and elevator control trying to keep the leader on the same spot in the windshield and never, ever have I been able to coordinate those turns.

Cheers!

S

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41 minutes ago, JimTM said:

 

Should you trim during turns (short or long)?

 

I do not. I did not in RL. Why? Technique I suppose one could argue. Trimming is all about reducing stick pressure. IMO without force feedback a player has to crosscheck his instruments and essentially let go of the stick to see if his trim input worked. 

 

20 minutes ago, sgorozco37 said:

Where I struggle the most is in keeping my relative formation position, especially during turns. I am constantly using rudder and elevator control trying to keep the leader on the same spot in the windshield and never, ever have I been able to coordinate those turns.

 

Perhaps, rather than trying to keep your leader in the same spot on the canopy, think in terms of lining up parts of leader's airplane to triangulate your position. What do I mean? Next time you are in formation in QM or SP hit pause whilst in a good position. Now look at how different parts of the leader's airframe line up. For example, where is the fuselage marking (star, roundel, cross) in relation to the wingtip of the far wing? Or where is the tip of the tail in relation to the far wingtip? Or where is some antenna in relationship to markings on the wing? Or where is leader's head (canopy) in relation to the near horizontal stabilizer?

 

This triangulation will help you achieve your desired fore/aft as well as lateral spacing. Do I have any specific suggestions? Not really, I tend to fly in a "patrol" position (about .3 to .5 if you're using icons to check) rather than "close formation." But if you watch Requiem's videos you may catch some clues.

Edited by busdriver
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25 minutes ago, busdriver said:

Perhaps, rather than trying to keep your leader in the same spot on the canopy, think in terms of lining up parts of leader's airplane to triangulate your position. What do I mean? Next time you are in formation in QM or SP hit pause whilst in a good position. Now look at how different parts of the leader's airframe line up. For example, where is the fuselage marking (star, roundel, cross) in relation to the wingtip of the far wing? Or where is the tip of the tail in relation to the far wingtip? Or where is some antenna in relation ship to markings on the wing? Or where is leader's head (canopy) in relation to the near horizontal stabilizer?

Oh, I see,  so I should focus more on trying to keep the same "visual-profile" of the leader... interesting.  :fly:

I'm glad I asked for experienced advice!  - Remembering my dad's driving lesson I had a strong gut feeling I may be learning it wrong (my wife and a cousin of mine, for example, did not develop the skill and are constantly correcting their steering during a tight curve, and although they don't seem to notice it, it is quite uncomfortable as a passenger  :P).

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1 hour ago, busdriver said:

I like that technique except I just stand on and hold the rudder pedal that yaws my nose away from the flight path (not across). Your technique is a very good RL signal whilst towing gliders telling the glider pilot that he has his speedbrakes deployed. :salute:

 

I used to fly gliders myself and that was the signal from the glider pilot on a winch launch to tell the winch operator to slow it down.

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1 hour ago, 56RAF_Roblex said:

 

I used to fly gliders myself and that was the signal from the glider pilot on a winch launch to tell the winch operator to slow it down.

 

Indeed same signal you'd give me your tow pilot.

 

1141380708_towsignals.JPG.c89e0dfaef8e467d38953bd747027bf7.JPG

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Air to air refueling in DCS took me several weeks of solid practice to learn. It’s not easy. It’s means really understanding that every control you touch afffects something else. Pitch up makes you climb but also slow down, throttle makes you change speed and climb or decend etc. It’s learning to anticipate everything and not just react to it, which leads to oscilating out of control. Then it all becomes second nature and you don’t think about it, like riding a bicycle. So yes it gets better with practice. 

 

As usual, this is the best stuff to learn from

 

 

Edited by SharpeXB
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1 hour ago, SharpeXB said:

Air to air refueling in DCS took me several weeks of solid practice to learn. It’s not easy. It’s means really understanding that every control you touch afffects something else. Pitch up makes you climb but also slow down, throttle makes you change speed and climb or decend etc. It’s learning to anticipate everything and not just react to it, which leads to oscilating out of control. Then it all becomes second nature and you don’t think about it, like riding a bicycle. So yes it gets better with practice. 

Glad to read this!  You nailed it,  my approach at this moment is 100% reactive and I'm constantly oscilating.  It requires so much attention that I can barely do any other task, like spotting planes :P

Quote

As usual, this is the best stuff to learn from

 

 

Great video!  It supports @busdriver's suggestion of concentrating on fixating the aspect of the plane rather than the position in the canopy.  

Thanks!!!

S

Edited by sgorozco37
fixed typo

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17 hours ago, 56RAF_Roblex said:

 judging the closing speed and distances though that is supposedly easier in VR. 

 

 

Focus on aligning the edge of your propeller with the wingtip of the flight lead and your mind will take care of the rest.

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Flying with VR goggles seems to be such a great experience! However how do you guys deal with all the keyboard commands? I imagine that with VR you have to keep constantly peeking out of it to hit correctly any of the many, many buttons required by a sim like this.

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1 hour ago, Y-29.Silky said:

 

Focus on aligning the edge of your propeller with the wingtip of the flight lead and your mind will take care of the rest.

 

Can you post a screenshot of what you're saying?

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