HOTAS for Beginners

Flight sims can be pretty darned confusing for folks. I remember it took me years to be able to land in the things! I manage it now - most of the time anyway. Smiling.
And those controllers - what are all the buttons for? What do they do?
I was reminded about this dilemma just the other night when watching an air combat "epic" on video. It was the classic jet combat scene. The bad guy gets on the hero's tail. He decides to pull up vertically... the camera zooms in on him pulling back on the throttle!!
OK - sometimes you do pull back on the throttle but there seems to be a lot of confusion about what those dangles and dongles actually do if you are to judge by what is shown in the movies.

ComponentFunctionHow to use itJoystickControls Attitude via Pitch and BankPush forward to go down
Pull back to go up
Push Left to bank left
Push Right to bank rightThrottleControls thrust and speedPush forward to go faster
Pull back to go slowerTriggerFires main guns or cannonPress to fire!Button 2Fire secondary weaponPress to drop bombs, fire rockets or missiles depending on the sim.Pan viewLook around the cockpitMove with your thumb to look up, down, left and right. TargetNext targetPush to select a targetPadlock viewPush to switch between Padlock and Normal viewPadlock view keeps the view centred on the enemy. This is an essential view in dogfights but can be confusing as well because you are not actually looking "where you are going"! In a dogfight I switch back and forward every second or two between padlock and normal view. Trim Up and DownAdjusts the TrimTrim refers to what the aircraft will do if you take your hands off the joystick.
You can:
Trim for climb
Trim for level flight or
Trim for descent.
The trim of the aircraft will change as you raise and lower gear and flaps. Use the trim controls to hold a steady attitude without having to apply pressure to the stick all the time.
In combat, trimming up a couple of notches will often help you turn quicker. On takeoff you would trim for climb to keep the aircraft climbing without constant back pressure on the stick. SpeedbrakePress to slow downOn some aircraft there are dedicated speedbrakes which pop out into the airflow. On others the flaps and spoilers might open in various configurations.
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