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  • Newb helo pilot questions

    Howdy, all.

    I'm the clan leader for the Jackpine Savages. ArmA is the first game in years that I'm excited about enough to suggest to my guys that we may have found a spiritual home for the foreseeable future. I'm really looking forward to the possibility of getting in some organized competitive team play with this game. Heck, even if we never join a ladder or league I think we'll still have a lot of fun pubbing with this game.

    Anyhow, I like to have a good idea about how all of the various vehicles and weapons work in any new game so I can plan our overall strategy based upon a realistic appraisal of the strengths and limitations of what we'll be working with. I generally try out every weapon at least for a while as part of my preparation for that role.

    The last time we played a game as a clan that utilized transport helos was the Desert Combat mod for BF42. That was a fairly fast paced game to begin with. The BF42 engine also let a player decide when to pull the rip cord, so it was easy to do HALO jumps. The view distance was also limited with that engine, so it was generally easy to get high enough up into the haze that you couldn't be seen from the ground. Finally, most maps had helos that respawned in about 45 seconds. This combination of factors led us to develop a tactic for infantry insertion that was pretty effective.

    We would load up a set of Blackhawks and/or Little Birds with an assault force and get some altitude while approaching the target. When we were within range, the fireteam or squad leader would call for a bail out. Everyone, including the pilots, would bail at once and start gliding towards their designated drop zones while the helos crashed well away from where we were actually headed.

    We'd pop the rip cords as low to the ground as possible. Our best guys could time it so that they were actually below the roof line of a two story building before their chute opened. As guys died, the ones designated for continual assaults would spawn back by the helos and repeat the tactic.

    This strategy gave us several benefits. First, it was pretty easy to achieve tactical surprise. Spotting guys who are gliding in from high up is a lot tougher than looking for helos or parachutes hanging in the sky. Second, it meant that our exposure to enemy fire while still in the sky was minimized to the greatest extent possible. Third, we got pretty good at pinpoint insertions so there was very little delay in getting organized once we had dropped on target.

    OpFlash and ArmA obviously have very different characteristics. It looks like it's going to be much tougher to achieve the same level of tactical surprise. However, there's no denying the value of insertions via helo, so I want to learn what works and what doesn't.

    I've only got the demo while I wait for an official English language release, so I'm obviously limited in what I can try out. I've watched dslyecxi's Little Bird insertion/extraction video on Google several times. I've also been practicing flying the Blackhawk and the Russian equivalent on the CTI map.

    Let me say right now that I'm not a very good pilot. :row__522: I can take off and do a half assed job of flying nap of the earth at a good clip. Where I really suck is landing and taking off again. I can't get either one of the two choppers on the ground without a fair amount of damage.

    Before you say it, yes, I know. Practice, practice, and practice some more. :row__687: My questions are more about control systems and technique.

    First, I'm using an old Microsoft Sidewinder joystick with the built-in slider, one hat switch, and 8 or 9 other buttons. I've set the slider for the throttle and the hat switch to the "look" commands. Primary and secondary fires are bound to the usual places. I haven't done anything else with the other buttons yet.

    Please don't suggest getting another joystick that would let me do HOTAS. I don't fly enough to justify the cost. While it looks like TrackIR would be a nice addition to my rig, I'm also holding off on buying one for the time being.

    Within these limitations, does this sound like an OK control arrangement? Should I forget about using the slider for the throttle and use the keyboard instead?

    Just what is the best way to land? The flare technique that dslyecxi does so effortlessly in his training video is pretty tough to do when you don't know what you're doing. :icon11:

    Do I want to approach the drop zone under full power? Half? Something else?

    Should I be losing altitude from 'way out with a nice long run to the DZ? That seems like it might be a good way to get an entire squad killed against good opponents. :row__684:

    If I'm coming in low and fast, how do I bleed off speed without losing altitude? If I try to flare, I end up high up, stationary, with my nose elevated so much I can't see where I'm supposed to land.

    If I try to drop the throttle slowly while slowly transitioning from nose down to level, I take too long. I also generally end up pretty high, again making the chopper a fat, juicy target.

    If I try just trying to hold the chopper level while dropping the chopper by reducing the throttle, I inevitably end up landing hard. I generally come down too fast. Also, I'm such a bad pilot that I almost always end up side slipping or drifting forward or back.

    Another question that I've got is how to judge altitude, rate of climb or descent, and position with respect to the LZ when the nose is up. Do you pick a couple of landmarks on your way in and use those to help guide the final approach? Not let the nose get too high? Something else?

    TIA for all the help that you can give me.

  • #2
    Re: Newb helo pilot questions

    Well, first of all.. What most people get wrong when doing a chopper insertion, is choosing the location of the landing zone. Most people try to land as close to the target as possible, and fly the most direct route there. This is suicide. A helicopter wouldn't even make it to the LZ if its trying to land within the effective range of a heavy machinegun.

    Plan your route carefully, utilizing terrain for cover. Come in with the sun to your back if possible. And choose a LZ far enough away from the action so that you are out of the effective range of any fire that you expect to encounter.

    As for basic flying skills.. That just takes practice, and a lot of it is technique. Some people like to make a sharp 180* turn to bleed off speed. I prefer to fly in a more deliberate manner, bleeding off airspeed while staying as low as possible. Stay low and fast, but not so fast that you overshoot. Nothing is worse than having to spend even a few extra seconds in the sights of your enemy as you try to realign yourself for another attempt; all while your passangers are being shredded to bits.

    And last of all.. Remember.. This may not be a flight simulator, but its closer to a simulator than it is to BF2/BF1942 DC. So that means things are going to take more time. You cant expect to be flying at 200kph at 10m and be able to decelerate and safely land in 2 seconds. From initial decel to touchdown for a standard insertion, I probably take 20-40 seconds. Which is why the location of the LZ is so critical.
    TG Regular
    TGU Staff
    ShackTac FNG





    TGU Rotary Wing Instructors
    Evil Koala
    LeftSkidLow

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    • #3
      Re: Newb helo pilot questions

      I've been practicing by taking the Blackhawk in the CTI mission down to practice touch and gos on San Tomas Island. To say my control is... uncertain... is a mild understatement. lol.

      Thanks for the tips! I'll keep them in mind as I continue to practice.

      P.S. What is your controller set up for helos? HOTAS? Joystick/kbd? Kbd/mouse?

      Thanks again!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Newb helo pilot questions

        I currently use a mouse and keyboard, but I would be using my flight stick setup if my pedals worked in game.
        TG Regular
        TGU Staff
        ShackTac FNG





        TGU Rotary Wing Instructors
        Evil Koala
        LeftSkidLow

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Newb helo pilot questions

          I still have my Sidewinder Pro JS - does yours have the twist stick for rudder control?

          In OFP this was essential to stopping quickly. Coming in fast, drop the collective, pull back on the stick and then add in some yaw (left or right) and adjust collective as needed. With practice you should be able to get this down pretty quickly.

          I would start off at slower speeds and work up. Try at 100 knots and go from there. Also start high (say 500 feet) and work down from there.
          Jex.

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