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Formation flying trainer

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Hey guys,

I’ve started doing the formation flying trainer (https://www.digitalcombatsimulator.com/en/files/3327920/).

I noticed a couple of things that I’m missing to be able to improve my formation flying as a student:

1) there’s no flight plan or briefing that shows what the route is going to be, including altitudes, headings, and speeds planned. Nor is there a flight plan loaded. Having this information in advance, and loaded in the fms would significantly improve students to follow the flight lead.

2) the speeds at which are being flown, are inconsistent. Although altitude and speed are called out by the lead, and “left turn”, “right turn” is being called, the speeds applied are not consistent with what’s called out, making it even more difficult to follow.

3) the flight lead calls the turns, but then wait an inconsistent amount of time before actually turning. Sometimes there’s a 2-3 second pause, other times it’s instantaneous.

4) not sure about the accuracy of the scoring. Last flight, I was 68% within acceptable range, and 20% within perfect range, yet my score was an E. Normally 68% or above would be a C. Based on what I observed, I’d give the flight lead an F- 😂

joking aside though, I wonder if there are other formation trainer missions. Alternatively, if someone could advice me how to create such a mission (or update/amend one), that would be great.

I was thinking, first learn to fly straight and level in formation at constant speed,  then maybe learn a level rectangle at constant speed (both left and right hand. The rectangle flight should teach how to stay on someone’s wing in a turn (involves increasing thrust to keep up I discovered). After that maybe learn to vary speed and/or altitude (again, first I a straight level flight, then in a rectangle). After all that, learn take off in formation, followed by landing in formation. After all those skills are learned I think the above linked trainer could be attempted.

(as a note, I’m sure using an autopilot with speed, heading and altitude control, would make it a walk in the park)

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I found one training that was quite useful so far. It’s available separately and as a bundle for f-16 proficiency training. 
it’s simple and thus good for the first step ; straight and level flight. It’s not great for practising turns in formation, because there’s very few turns and a long time between turns. Also at the end of that mission the wing led just breaks away and lands on a runway that is easy to short to land on visiting your weight (even if I touch fish at the first Mather’s, I still overrun because of the high landing speed).

i might try my hand on practising formation turns through the mission editor. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

In the "Instant Action" missions, select F-5 and Free Flight. You spawn in just behind and to the right of Lead, who flies a pretty docile route to a landing on the coast.


Typical airspeed is 375 KIAS, and is a great single-player training mission, if you apply yourself. It's easier if your Lead is sentient and can give real-tips, and for that I suggest Yappydog's training server.


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  • 2 months later...

I haven't tried that specific mission, but I have created many missions to test out formation flying and AI behavior.  I have come to the conclusion that the AI behavior is insufficient for that purpose... even for itself... ie if I set up a lead flight (2-ship) and have a second flight (2-ship) follow the lead flight, even the AI loses the plot after a few minutes.

If you'd like to setup a formation training mission for yourself, I can make the following suggestions:

  • Your flight lead hates you. Probably not a fair statement, but the AI aircraft don't fly like player aircraft. They accelerate and decelerate faster than you, and the throttle positions reported in the moving map will not match the throttle position you'll need to match their speed.
  • Speeds in the mission editor are GROUND SPEED, not INDICATED AIRSPEED. I've tried setting speeds as mach number, and maybe that helped, but it might just be in my head.
  • Every turn the AI makes is a max-performance turn (I don't think I've ever seen the AI perform a standard-rate turn). This leads to heading overshoot after a waypoint, leading to another (shallow) turn to get back on course for the next waypoint. You can tune waypoint position to minimize this.
  • There are two types of "turning" waypoints: "turning point" and "flyover point." The former is supposed to make the AI start the turn early and then pass through the waypoint, the latter holds the turn until the AI has passed through the waypoint. I haven't seen much difference vis-a-vis formation keeping.
  • Setup your mission with two AIs (lead and wingman) and watch them fly the route, then set the wingman to player and see if you can follow the leader (match the AI wingman's performance).

I haven't tried this (thinking about this now, I should try it this evening) but you may have better luck setting a waypoint to "Perform Task / Aerobatics / Turn." I don't know if that will get the AI to do a standard-rate turn, but it's worth a shot.

I've attached one of my test missions... this is a flight of three 2-ships (F-86s) that takeoff, join up, separate, then land (trying to land with minimal separation between flights). Start the mission, jump into the "extra" F-86, and then watch the AI do its thing.  If you don't have the F-86 (why not? it's awesome!) just change the extra F-86 to anything so you can jump into the cockpit while you watch.

For comedic relief, watch each of the flights as they're approaching the coast when returning to the field. I recommend watching flight leads so you don't get sick.

Additional note, underscores performance differences between AI and human planes:  The AI F-86s don't fly the approach "properly." According to the -1 you leave the airbrakes out and engine RPM up to compensate for the slow spool time. Watch their airbrakes, and note how fast the AIs slow down once they touch down on the runway.

Edited to add: Ops Center's awesome video on the topic:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lsxDAAQ1vo


Edited by Awger
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