Found this while wasting time on youtube. Thought you guys might enjoy.
Just to echo on what AEW said, “Back in my day” (1999-2004), we used 450’ at the 90 as well, with VSI targets around the approach turn that varied a little more (part of what made a day approach turn so very very challenging). The only other area I noticed was that at the abeam position, you are usually targeting 600’, on-speed, 0 VSI, and a specific TACAN distance from the boat. I don’t remember you mentioning that last part, but you did mention a horizontal distance reference earlier in the pattern. I flew S-3’s which forced us to fly a “Working man’s pass” without all the displays and velocity vector (or coolness factor), so we didn’t have a display line to touch the wingtip to. Plus, keep in mind that in real life (not sure if it will be simulated here or not), the ship does not always maintain the same course and often shifts heading to keep the wind over the deck (the crosswind limits are pretty small given the narrow landing area) - you won’t necessarily know that and adjust your BRC in the cockpit. So it’s a good idea to check your TACAN DME at the abeam position, because that will affect the angle of bank you select (which in turn will affect how much power you set in the initial turn, etc). In the S-3 it was 1.0 to 1.1 nm abeam. From what AEW says it sounds a little wider in the Hornet. But the comments above are very minor nitpicks in what is otherwise a very impressive video. I’m just poking my nose into this community, and am blown away by the attention to detail and accuracy. You just don’t see civilians referencing the NATOPS - that’s crazy! It’s so refreshing to have a flight sim not try to dumb down the complexity and difficulty just to make things more accessible. I think you did a great job capturing how much work and precision goes into a safe pass.
Because this seems so close to the real thing, a couple things to consider from someone who hasn’t played the sim but did it in real life:
- A good pass starts at the break / crosswind turn. Be consistently on the right numbers every time.
- Consistency is key. Strive to hit the same numbers (airspeed/AOA, Angle of bank, altitude, distance abeam, etc) every time.
- You will never be able to completely achieve #2 above. Recognize deviations, MAKE A CORRECTION towards capturing the next checkpoint, expect to re-correct once you capture that checkpoint. For example, if you increase your VSI due to being too high, remember to decrease your VSI back to where it should be once you’re back on altitude, or you’ll trade a high for a low.
- Really understand what your checkpoints are. You should be monitoring your progress BEFORE you hit the abeam position so that you nail it at exactly 1.2 nm abeam (or whatever the right Hornet number is), 600’, on-speed, reciprocal to carrier heading, wings level. Normally the turn off the abeam is delayed a certain number of seconds - make sure it’s the same each time (assuming the same wind speed over the deck). You should have an exact altitude, VSI, and angle of bank target to hit at the 135, 90, 45, and start positions (these changed slightly with each position in the S-3, not sure what the Hornet numbers are).
- Once you know what the checkpoints should be, the next step is recognizing deviations. Are you high/low? Tight/wide? Too much/too little AOB? All will require different corrections, but you can’t make a proper correction if you don’t recognize the deviation first.
- Once you are consistently recognizing deviations, now comes a proper correction. Realize that every correction will have second and third order affects that need to be factored in. But in each case, try to correct to be on-profile at the next checkpoint or two if possible. High at the abeam? Try to correct to be on the right altitude at the 135 or 90. If you are wide at the abeam, you will need to have less angle of bank initially to avoid being in an undershooting position at the 90. But if you use less angle of bank, you will also need to carry less power during that part of the turn to avoid arriving high at the 90. Your turn radius will also be wider, putting you in a potentially “long in the groove” situation, so you may need to start your turn a little early. A lot of things to juggle, but if you can get back to profile, you can resort back to your normal numbers. Realize that most of us spend most of our time correcting deviations, however. The better you get, the sooner you will recognize deviations and the smaller your corrections will be.
- Make larger, more aggressive corrections farther out, finer corrections in close. Making big plays in close is generally no bueno. Jabbers, you did a great job here. You are correct in stating that doing this consistently requires a TON of practice. We started flying the ball on day one of jet training, thousands of landings before we ever saw the boat. Whether we were flying familiarization, formation, bombing, dogfighting, etc, we would always come back to the field and bounce 5-10 times to get more ball-flying practice in. It’s truly shocking at first how hard this is - the first time I rolled out of my approach turn, I couldn’t even see the ball (I was too high)! To see a centered ball crossing the ramp, you literally have to fly your head through a window only a foot or two wide. So don’t feel bad if this kicks your ass at first. Try to nail the early parts of the landing pattern, and keep working on consistency and accuracy to the later, harder parts of the approach turn an landing. Work towards a good crosswind turn (or break if you are entering the pattern). Then try to hit a good abeam each time. Next work on hitting a good consistent 90. A good start is where the grading starts, and where the rubber meets the road - once you are getting good starts you are almost there. Remember to make a power adjustment as you roll wings level or you’ll balloon. Flying the ball is what it is - I’ve never flown a simulator that accurately represents it, so I’ll defer to others there. Meatball, lineup, angle of attack are the only things you should be looking at, and the faster you scan them the better. Flying the ball is almost a whole other conversation/video - there is so much going on there, so many ways you can deviate, so many possible corrections. If this sim includes rooster tails and burbles (which would be awesome), then the discussion gets even deeper based on high wind vs light wind days. Now add night, bad weather, pitching decks, and aircraft emergencies, and you’ve got yourself a pretty good sim! Sorry for the long comment - love talking about this stuff and you seem like the right group. Fly Navy! T-Pot