Why I Suck As An Arma 2 Pilot.

Some Serious Maneuvering
Image by The U.S. Army via Flickr

Improving My Arma 2 Piloting Skills.

It’s a hard admission to make, but my piloting skills are lacking. Now that I’ve upgraded my computer, I can no longer blame slow hardware for my poor piloting performance. So I’ve decided it’s time to upgrade my piloting skills.

My weak areas are:

  1. Landing
  2. Combat
  3. Everything Else

db's arma ch47 ramp hover

Improving Landing In Arma 2

My Arma landing problems are basic – I can’t land where I want to. Or to put it another way, I crash near where I want to land. With fixed wing aircraft I had gotten to the point where I didn’t play the missions at all or just quit in frustration. With helicopters I’m not quite so bad. Give me a large enough field and I can usually land ok. Any landing that requires precision or in a combat situation and I usually tense up and blow it.

So I fired up the search engines and went looking for resources to help improve my fixed wing landings. I found an article called 25 Tips to make you a better pilot written for real pilots of real world aircraft. Still it addressed one of my chronic problems; over shooting the runway. Here is what they suggested:

For accurate landings fixate on the runway numbers in the windshield.
The runway numbers … are constantly telling you where the airplane is going to touchdown on the runway. If the numbers are visually moving towards you (down the windshield), you are going to go over them. If they are moving away from you (up the windshield), you’ll be short. The goal is to keep the numbers stationary in the windshield or drifting down slightly. If you keep the numbers stationary, you won’t actually hit them, which isn’t the goal anyway, but you’ll come over them at a reasonable height and your flair will carry you no more than 500-700 feet past them (if you’re on speed). The goal here is to know where the airplane is going to touch down and control that touchdown point, rather than just accepting what happens.

So I gave the advice a try and … I landed. I was very happy. So happy I tried it again, then again. I’ve gotten to the point where I can land 9 out of 10 times. Granted my approaches are still a bit shaky, but now I have hope.

Arma landing practice

db's Arma Landing Practice

With rotary aircraft my search wasn’t as productive since I couldn’t find any tutorials. I may just have to repeatedly practice until I get proficient. Last year I had built an Arma mission with random landing zones. I practiced for a few hours and that helped, so I may have to build something like that for Arma 2. (See screen shot for my practice results in Arma)

Additional Reference

Learning to fly with Flight Simulator in particular the section entitled Setting Up for an Approach
Dart’s Page: 31MB Movie How to Land On A Carrier

Improving My Arma 2 Air Combat Skills

Embolden by my improved landings I set out to improve my air combat skills. Now I was realistic and didn’t want to dampen my new-found enthusiasm by jumping into the art and science of air to air combat. I figured I would start out with improving on my ground assault technique; something I considered simpler and applicable to both fixed and rotary winged aircraft. I found a 26MB movie tutorial from Dart’s Page called How to Attack Ground Targets. He uses IL2 (I think) to show how to attack ground targets using guns, rockets and bombs. My previous ground attack efforts usually consisted of me spending too much time flopping about trying to lineup my target, missing and then plowing into the ground. One tip I picked up from the movie is to not use your rudder to lineup the target; something I had been trying unsuccessfully to do. I’ve been practicing a bit doing strafing runs with guns and rockets and I have improved – again not perfect, but a definite improvement.

Additional Reference

Dart’s Page Instructional Videos
Formation Flying
IN PURSUIT: A Pilot’s Guide to Online Air Combat
Jet Fighter School

Other Suggestions

If anyone has any other resources, tips, tricks or hints on how I can improve, please comment or send me an email. Any help would be appreciated because yes, my flying does suck that much.