by Richard Sheffield
Takeoffs and Landings
Most players don't seem to have much of a problem with takeoffs, so I won't spend much time on them here. But there's one thing you might want to remember: The F-19 has a center of gravity that's well to the rear of the aircraft. Because of this, on takeoff the nose will come up well before the aircraft has enough speed to lift the rest of the plane. So don't assume that just because the nose will lift you're ready to rotate and fly. Keep an eye on the stall indicator bar on the left side of the HUD; don't try and lift off until the bar is below the middle indicator.
Quite a few people I talk to, both online and in person, seem to have trouble landing. In order to get those really high scores, you're going to have to learn to operate in the Realistic Landing mode. I'll try and cover landing procedures in some depth.
Getting Lined Up
The most important, and difficult, part of learning to land is learning how to get properly lined up with the runway. Imagine that the runway isn't a short concrete strip but a straight highway that extends for miles to the north and south. (Remember all runways and carriers in F-19 are lined up pointing north-south.) This is a long and wide highway, but you can only land on the portion near the base. If this were the case, getting lined up would be easy—you could just fly over to this highway, turn, and follow it all the way back to the base. You'd be perfectly lined up. Learning how to use a couple of the instruments you have on board will allow you to do this.
Once you learn the process, safe landings are no longer a problem.
When you first learn to land, the Instrument Landing System (ILS) may be more confusing than helpful, so I'll cover it later. For now we won't use it.
You need to start thinking about getting lined up early; 50 km isn't too soon.
An example is the best way to explain the landing procedure.
Here's the setup. You can recreate this setup and follow the procedure with the game. I'm flying the Strike Training Mission against Libya off the USS America. I've completed my mission against Tripoli, and its time to head home.
I'm heading due north, 000 degrees, north of Tripoli over the Mediterranean Sea. My INS cursor at the top of the HUD is pointing to the last waypoint. My assigned landing location, Sigonella Airbase in Sicily.
Mission over and headed for home.
Once I'm clear of the enemy, I want to get set up to make an approach into Sigonella on a heading of 000 degrees. The HUD cursor shows the base to be slightly to my right. A heading of 20 degrees would take me straight to it, but I would come in crooked to the runway. I want to come in on a heading of 000. So, to correct this, I start my setup by turning to my right and taking a straight and level course of 90 degrees.
I maintain this heading until the cursor moves all the way to the left of the scale. Now I should be approximately due south of the base. You can verify this on the Situation Display. You may still be too far away to pick up the base on the Trackcam.
Now I turn to the left and make my heading 45 degrees. You should be able to see the 000 heading indicator now. If not, maintain this heading until you can.
I maintain a heading of 45 degrees until the cursor is just one major division to the right of the 000 heading indicator. I start a shallow turn to the right. Note that both the cursor and the 000 heading indicator start to move toward the center of the scale. The 000 indicator should move faster. My goal is to time my turn and my pull out so the cursor and the 000 indicator both arrive at the middle of the scale at the same time.
I turn towards the base and try to time my turn so the NAV cursor and the 000 heading indicator both arrive at the center of the HUD at the same time.
It appears the cursor will get to the center first, so I level out for a minute and the cursor will start to move slowly away from the center, letting the 000 indicator catch up. Turning back to the left for a minute or two will speed up the process.
So now I'm on a heading of 000 and the cursor is in the middle of the scale. I know I'm heading directly toward the base (because the cursor is in the middle), and I know the runway is lined up on a 000 heading—my heading is 000, so I must be correctly lined up!
To start the lineup process, I fly at a 90-degree heading until the HUD NAV cursor hits the edge of the scale.
I level the wings on a heading of 000 and with the NAV cursor in the center of the scale. Perfectly lined up!
By starting early and making small adjustments, you should be able to get lined up even before you pick up the base on the Trackcam at 50 km. Note: Don't be fooled by the airstrip at Halfar. It will show up first on both the Trackcam and the Situation Display. The base you want is Sigonella, which is to the northeast of Halfar.
OK, I'm all lined up and I've got Sigonella on the Trackcam 45 km away. I level out at 500 feet.
At 20 km, I cut back on power to bring my airspeed down below 250 knots. I also extend the flaps.
At 15 km, I can get a good look at the runway on the Trackcam. I'm a little off, but not enough to worry about. The runway is very wide. I'll have plenty of room to land a little crooked.
Fifteen kilometers out, my speed is connny down. I extend my flaps and check my lineup.
At 10 km, I cut my power a little more to bring it down to less than 200 knots and lower the landing gear.
Lowering the gear causes me to start to descend slightly; I keep my nose up slightly and let her lose altitude.
At 2 km out I get to 100 feet. This puts me short of the runway, so I pull back on the stick a little to hold my altitude at 80 feet.
At 1 km, I ease forward on the stick and start to descend again. Note that my nose is still pointing slightly upward; I'm not diving for the runway.
As I cross the end of the runway, I'm down to ten feet and I cut power. The wheels touch the ground and I tap the brake key once (do not hold it down). I'm a little crooked, so I steer to the left as the plane rolls to a stop. Another successful mission!
I cross the end of the runway at ten feet and cut power, keeping the nose up.
Coming in on such a shallow glide path isn't the way they teach it in flight school, but it's a good way to begin to learn about landing with this game. As you become more proficient, you'll want to land at a higher speed and use the steeper glide slope indicated by the ILS. “Tail dragging” landings as described above aren't good form, but if you're having trouble getting your bird safely on the ground, it's a good place to start.
A nice, smooth, touchdown!