Beginners

Basic Button setup for Air Combat sims

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 movies..

Basic Button setup for Air Combat sims

Component Function How to use it?
Joystick Controls Attitude via Pitch and Bank
  1. Push forward to go down
  2. Pull back to go up
  3. Push Left to bank left
  4. Push Right to bank right
Throttle Controls thrust and speed
  1. Push forward to go faster
  2. Pull back to go slower
Trigger Fires main guns or cannon Press to fire
Button 2 Fire secondary weapon Press to fire cannon, drop bombs, fire rockets or missiles depending on the sim.
Pan View Look around the cockpit Move with your thumb to look up, down, left and right.
Target Push to select a target  
Toggle Padlock View Push to switch between Padlock and Normal view Padlock 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 Down Adjusts the Trim "Trim" refers to what the aircraft will do if you take your hands off the joystick.
You can:
  1. Trim for climb
  2. Trim for level flight or
  3. 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.
Speedbrake Press to slow down On some aircraft there are dedicated speedbrakes which pop out into the airflow. On others the flaps and spoilers might open in various configurations.

This example uses the Thrustmaster Top Gun Afterburner II stick and throttle.