Skill bleed

I bought the harrier just before Christmas and have been flying (crashing) it pretty much exclusively since then. Now we are only talking ten or 11 days of around 4 hours total flight time which isn’t a lot in my eyes.

After slamming into the Tarawa and bursting into flames and pieces for what feels like the millionth time I thought I would jump back into the F15c to prove I could still fly something without it ending in a funeral…

Incorrect is the word.
I’ve just ordered a new flight stick and actual rudder pedals to improve my stability a bit but I really really couldn’t land the eagle tonight on my usual setup.
I even tried one of the aggressor missions against 2 F5E with guns only and a wingman helping me and I still got my butt handed to me. Although this was partially successful on one attempt with 2 kills but one 1 was me actually managing to fly the opponent into the ground which was nice.
How often do you guys switch aircraft? Do you try and stay current in all your planes or just hammer one until your bored of it.
I absolutely LOVE the challenge of the harrier. It’s just beautiful but I feel my control setup is mainly responsible for my lack of precision so I will have to see when my shiny box arrives next week…
I haven’t even fired (or mapped) the weapons on the harrier yet as I want to get the basics nailed first.
So do you guys suffer from skill bleed like me? I really made a lot of progress with the f15 and now it seems like I’m on the starting blocks again… I was nearly ready to take it online with you guys but that might have to be re thought as well now…
Sorry for the ramble


Kind of goes in phases. Because they release quicker than they used to, the ones burnt into my memory are probably the A-10C and the Ka-50, just because of the time spent. I haven’t flown the Hog for over a year, but I bet I could cold start it. Something a bit more recent and I just skipped around I have trouble remembering, as in I probably couldn’t cold start a MiG-15 or Sabre without reaching for a Chuck Guide first.

The good thing about the Harrier is that you’re learning the McWay (McDonnell Douglas) as in a lot of the systems aren’t that dissimilar between the Harrier and Hornet, so you’re kind of learning that in a way too.

The Harrier is odd, in that the pilot induced oscillation in the hover is one of though weird muscle memory things to practice in sims. Once you get ahead of it it is ok, but before that it just seems like a fight. What sort of controls and mapping you have seems to map a big difference as well. I put the thrust vector angle on an axis wheel on a X-55 throttle, and that helps a lot, in that you getting good ergonomics and precise controls is half the battle.


For the TM Warthog throttle, I used the friction slider axis for the nozzles.

I am currently running between the Hog, Harrier and Hornet depending on the mission and weapons I want to use. I used to know nearly everything in the Hog, I’m sure I could quickly refresh in-air if I had to.

I tend to stick to one airframe until I know all the weapons reasonably well at least.

As for online - join anyway! Can always get a lesson over a Discord chat, and it’s easier to teach in real-time.


What did you get?

I fly a bunch of different stuff all mixed up. Now the MiG-15, then the Su-27, then a round or three in the Spitfire, then a quick bash in the F/A-18, etc. Being able to land all of them (as long as they’re normal planes) and operate them fairly proficiently makes me feel like a sierra hotel test pilot.

I suck at helicopters tho and haven’t gotten around to really learning those. I did get good at harrier but let that atrophy.

So yeah.


One cockpit that never stuck with me was the Viggen. I climb in to that puppy and every time it’s


I keep meaning to go back to it and learn it properly again. I got to the stage where I could run a mission but for some reason it never sticks. The HUD in particular and that tiny QFE readout in VR don’t help…


Lol I have it in my hangar and when I even look at it, it growls something Swedish at me and I retreat like an intimidated puppy.


I found a deal with a Dutch company for the t16000 stick and hotas throttle and the t flight pedals. Very reasonable price and free delivery. Looking forward to seeing the difference the pedals make as I’ve never had them before.
I’m struggling with the harrier to be honest. Really think it’s the twist grip at the root of the problem.


Great choice there mate, I am most certain it will make a world of difference. The precision in that stick alone should allow you to do much better.

What happened when you flew the eagle after the harrier? It’s not like they have much different thrust/weight ratio’s :wink:

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As much as it hurt, that’s the reason why I stopped buying every plane.

I can stay somewhat proficient in two or three full fidelity modules, and perhaps three more of FC3 level.


Bearing in mind that I’ve focused on both the Bug and the Harrier, which are both McAir products and designed with similar cockpits and HOTAS’…

I tend to set all my buttons to a similar set of functions, such as my stick’s left thumb four way switch being zoom in and out, cage/uncage, with the right press being open to other functions like designate/acquire. Same is true of my throttle – the bottom four way is for pure countermeasures, where I typically use forward for flares and back for chaff. This adds a level of commonality so I don’t have to relearn common functions in most aircraft. Also, more often than not, I’m a clicky pit user, so I don’t have to remember all the keybinds and just remember cockpit control locations. The only exceptions are the Su-33 and Su-25T, with the balance on the 25T.

I also don’t play around with a lot of different types of missions. I tend to focus on ground attack, with very little time into air combat. Namely because in DCS, there’s a lot more rules and probabilities than old IL2’46 ever was. You can do everything right in an air engagement, then the RNG whizzes in the sensor of your Sparrow and you’re dead. Further, in this day and age, everyone has voice comms and that’s difficult for a deaf guy to work with. As a result, I tend to lone wolf it and the strike mission works a bit better that way (though by no means perfectly).

Essentially, my stable is the Mirage, Bug, Harrier, Viggen, Su-33, Su-25T, and A-4E. I rarely play around with the Mirage or the Viggen, both because of their general mission set (intercept and low level, high speed strike) and because they’re a bit less intuitive to play. If I want to blow up tanks and general CAS, I pick the Su-25T and roll with the Vikhr packs; if I want to make precision strike, I take the Bug or Harrier; if I want to prepare for the F-14, I take the A-4E and Su-33. I cycle through each type fairly regularly, depending on what I’m in the mood for. Lately it’s been the A-4E as I’ve been messing around with a simple short campaign for it and the focus has been on DEAD and strike.

Since my button and keys are bound commonly throughout, with a few special bindings as necessary, it’s pretty easy to switch from one to the other. Coupled with a relatively common mission set and I do it a lot.

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ROCKET SLED! Is what happened lol.

I was quite surprised when I first flew the harrier how nippy it was.
But now the f15 feels like the x15 :joy:
That was my main problem tonight being 500 knots too fast at one point and then bleeding all my speed till I’m 300 knots to slow…
The harrier does (to me) seem to hold its speed on better and is definitely easier to fly HARD. Its just an absolute pig to keep longitudinal stability for me.
But I tend to fly in RL with my feet a lot more so that’s why I’m tying myself up with the twist grip. I’m itching to try those pedals.

Honestly, the Harrier has pretty shoddy rudder authority, especially in a hover. I try to minimize my usage of rudder while hovering, though I will say that being able to have a light touch on the rudder helps immensely. Like a helicopter, your control inputs in the Harrier’s hover mode are behind the aircraft itself, so you have to anticipate and counteract where it’s likely to go. I’ve practiced this a lot by landing on Perry class frigates and running missions from them.

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Its more the transition INTO the hover I’m struggling with mate. The hover by no means is perfect but I can control that with thrust and stick pretty well (rubbish old stick notwithstanding) but when I slow to the point of about 100 knots and slower I seem to let the nose wander and then correct with stick twist and then it drops a wing so I correct that and then all bloody hell normally breaks loose. I can’t seem to counter the secondary effect of rudder with the stick while I’m twisting it. Like I say I’m very early on with the harrier and loving it so much. But I’m still on extremely basic flight routines with it and haven’t touched any systems really.
I tried refuelling the other night as well…that poor poor tanker.
Rudder pedals will DEFINITELY help with that phase of flight.

Is your gear down and nozzles set to 82 degrees by that point? By 100kts I’m usually lined up with where I want to go and am just working on slowing down. The nose shouldn’t be wandering that much unless you’re dealing with some high winds.

This video demonstrates it toward the end, he’s mostly adjusting the throttle and barely touches the rudder:

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Bang on 82 degrees. It just seems to get away from me. Especially worse on the carrier as the movement relative to me throws me off as well.
I’ve got 3 days off on the 18th and I’m gonna really put some time into it.
I will watch that vid dude thank you.
I fired up X4 foundations for roughly 4 minutes earlier before the harrier itch had me back on dcs again so I’m definitely WANTING to improve and fly it. Be nice to be able to shoot some mavericks by 2020 lol

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Did you set pitch and roll axis curves? Nearly all sticks require them in DCS, as it’s fairly common to need more accuracy in from the middle of the curve. Throttle can be linear, but pitch/roll/yaw you might as well default to a curve of 20 until you get comfy.

With the Harrier under 60 kts(?) or so I think it uses the RCS system rather than rudder authority. Not sure. When coming into land, if that weather vane in front of the HUD assembly on the nose is waving them it’s worth getting that flatdeck to sail into the wind, otherwise it can get odd to land.

Bear in mind that my roots are in the world of whirlybirds, so the Harrier tends to come naturally to me with how it flies and operates as well as the primary mission. This also ties into your original question, mostly in regards to two radically different aircraft that also have two very different missions as well as operating environments. Controls do have an impact here as well, because I think the CH sticks have a comparatively large throw compared to a lot of other sticks on the market.

You’re going from the F-15 which only has four basic weapons and all tied to one mission, to the Harrier that packs a wide variety of air-ground weaponry and fills a variety of mission sets, in addition to filling some of the air-air mission that would normally be tasked to the F-15. No joke, I think I have more multiplayer air kills in the Harrier than any other aircraft at this point. SEAD/DEAD with Sidearms, anti-tank with the Mavericks, strike with the Paveways, CAS with Mk80s, Mk20s, and Hydras, as well as the LITENING pod all represent a wide range of capabilities with a pretty large amount of depth to each one.

By contrast, the F-15 is pretty much select an air mode, pick a missile appropriate for the engagement, lock target, shoot when ready. Power for days and you don’t have to worry about negative Gs or pulling to hard on the stick, much less buzzing about with a full weapon load. Oh and aerial refueling is way easier, plus no landings at sea! There’s just not as much going on and the focus is very singular. The Harrier then throws the hover element into the equation, with the limitations on time, thrust, temperature, and altitude that all conspire to make it that much harder. It becomes pretty clear why the FC/MAC level aircraft are popular for this reason alone; it’s much faster to get in and go than the more complex ones. Although even if the Harrier were FC/MAC level, I think it’d still be pretty hard to master given the seaborne and hovering characteristics.

And I absolutely love the Harrier for all it’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Honestly, I wouldn’t even worry about hovering or mastering flight of it in that way; start grabbing some weapons and go to town.

Found this while looking around, real life USMC perspective:


Interesting topic and one dear to my heart. I’d say I’m proficient in zero DCS modules. I’m using the term “proficient” in professional terms…meaning, do I know the memory items? Do I know the limitations? All the V-speeds…weights…etc… I know all those numbers (well…most…lol…) for two aircraft in my life: the Citation Ultra and King Air B200. I simply don’t have the brain capacity for entertainment level sim (however accurately modeled) mixing me up for those numbers.

I’d argue that most people are not DCS module proficient…but they are “game effective” in that they can fly the snot out of the plane in the DCS World environment. Flying an airplane type for a living is really, really vastly different. And I don’t say that to be (or sound) snobby…it is just really different when you are in the plane and all the stuff is vibrating and you are feeling the plane do its thing and the weather is inches from you (at night).

That is why I’m in constant awe of the aviator warrior. They do all that stuff I do and then they get to lump in getting shot at by people that want to cut your head off. And then they might even get the added drama of coming aboard a carrier. I think I know what task saturation is…but I have NO IDEA what task saturation is… :rofl:


I’ve been using skydemon and x plane a hell of a lot recently and I’ve honestly found in the few times I’ve flown in real life in the last month or so my head is much more clear and task focused. My flying is pretty much the same but in my own mind I’m analysing things differently and anticipating things earlier due I’m SURE to sitting in my man cave which Is my safe space away from the world and presenting myself with problems that I may face on my own and with future students and working through them in a safe and controlled manner. I feel it has helped immensely. However on the flip side if I have been thinking about mk82 bombs and amraams before real flying I without doubt suffer in real life situations. Do you ever find the same thing beach? I understand you are FAR more experienced than me and do the job commercially and full time so can probably compartmentalise these things better than me. I do find this hobby leaks into real life occasionally

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Heading to bed…will answer this tomorrow… :slightly_smiling_face: But short answer - YES!

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