The Mudspike Air Refueling Thread

Since there seems to be an occasional Air Refueling question or discussion, here’s a good a place as any to put it. :grin:


Thanks Deacon211! I suck at it and wonder how the hell anyone can do it outside of VR. It is satisfying when you can do it in a campaign and not blow the mission.


Prepare yourselves. Brace. Brace.

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I’ll start…

Not a question just a [possible] tip in the context of getting gas in a flight sim, specifically DCS ,with an AI wingman (cus I do this a lot).

Since it’s AI and, based on my limited knowledge of such things, they are really inefficient at a lot of things: drag the formation up close behind the tanker before sending #2 off off to get gas (“Two, go to tanker”). But not too close. Half to one NM seems about right.

They take FOREVER to move in on the basket so the closer you are when you do this the less time it takes in the end.

Note you can give them a “Rejoin” command if you want/need them to take on a full (internal load - don’t think they actually fill any bags hanging off the wings/belly).

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Not being a pilot this hobby has really made me appreciate the amount of time I spend thinking about one thing: Gas - can I get from here to there with enough (or not too much - landing at the boat; hate to waste perfectly good virtual fuel :slight_smile: ). The Super Geek in me enjoys getting this right (I’m weird, yes).


Dad used to say that wiggling his toes helped.

I bet that we’d all do better in a full motion simulator. Not being able to feel the aircraft moving through the air is a challenge.

Yeah, wiggling your toes definitely helps. The thing is that, like trimming at first, you have to keep reminding yourself to do it.

Oddly, the other thing is breathing. When you are doing something fine, like tanking or even flying in gusty conditions, I have actually found myself holding my breath. Which is fine for a few seconds, but obviously lack of Oxygen rarely makes complicated tasks easier for humans.

Plus, slow deep breathing calms you and actually helps you to concentrate.

Weird stuff, huh?


I read in a book (i think it was lessons from the cockpit) that the navy guys always breathe out long and slow just before contact (same as pulling a trigger) to steady all the muscles and stop any jitters. It sounds plausible to me and ive always tried to do it when on DCS but its never made a ton of difference plus the bloody prod takes so long at 5kt closing speed that i normally end up gasping for another breath. Making it seem pointless.

Is it just one of those things that you get less in your brain about once youve done it a few times?

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Not strange to me. For you golfers out there (for the non-golfers this is a dicey shot): Had a 4-iron over a lake yesterday, into a 1-club wind - my “team” (2-man, alternate shot format) needed to turn things around…

Big, deep, breath, think “calm”, slow the brain down…nailed it (I’m skipping the big hook drive into the woods on the next tee).

Sounds easy but being able to relax, on command, takes practice I’ve found. Doesn’t always work :frowning:


My bad habit, I guess, is closing on it nicely, but slowing a bit too much too soon, leaving me 2 feet behind, zero closure; then the ‘wandering’ begins.


I think it’s one of those things that your brain has to develop the “trick” of, and then it becomes easier, if maybe not easy.

If I were to guess the three biggest things that help me (both sim and plane from what I remember) are:

  1. Use the right flap setting. For those jets with some kind of Auto flaps, I’d think that they would be moving at all the wrong times. A set flap setting seems to reduce some of the variability, for me at least.

  2. Trim, trim, trim. That’s always a big player in any kind of flying. But in the sim you always have that weird centering mechanic that I swear makes it even more important to be properly trimmed. When I’m not, it feels to me that a little too much nose down trim is better than the alternative. Carefully pulling feels easier to me than pushing.

  3. Fly the tanker not the basket. Yeah, easier said than done. But it’s almost like you gotta get the right sight picture on the tanker, or the pod, or whatever and slide her on forward. You can glance to see if you are going to miss by a mile and judging the angle of the hose can help a bit. But the minute you start flying off the basket, the PIOs start. Once that happens, you might as well back out a few feet and try again.

The one thing, other than the restricted field of view, that I think makes it hard in the sim is how to judge your distance from the basket. If you are a mile away, every tanking attempt is like the third grade…three of the longest years of my life!


Heat Blur’s F-14 for me was much easier after I started leaving the flaps on , I think it was, Bomb Mode? Beforehand it seemed as you describe - untimely flap movement.

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Of all my sim flying hours this is the one thing I have avoided like the plague


Hey old man, I think that you mean wing sweep :laughing:



@Deacon211 I just gotta say, thanks for posting in the BMS topic and giving us a glimpse into the life! I enjoyed the heck out of your description of the logistics of AAR planning, and you explained it in a really simple way that made it perfect for dummies like me. Plus it was a lot like the parts in a Tom Clancy novel (Red Storm Rising, for instance) when he delves (semi) deep into the technical details of something for a few pages- thoroughly enjoyable and explanative. So thanks! :grinning:

:rofl: :joy:

For me, it’s the most rewarding part of it! That, and trapping on the boat. But I’m better at AAR, for some reason. Start with the Hornet, because that takes trimming out of the occasion. Keep the motors spooled up, make small corrections, and listen to everything people like Deacon say and after a few nights of practice something in you will ‘click’ and it will become easy for you. The best part is the level of control of the airplane that you achieve translates to everything else too, since it’s really just precision formation flying. The best part is once you get it, it’s kinda like riding a bicycle in that you don’t lose it too much when you are away from the sim for a few weeks. Something something neural pathways in the brain or somesuch… :thinking:

ETA: Just to caveat, I’m talking AAR with a probe and basket. The way the USAF does it is just… weird and unnatural. I’m not going to say I’ve never done it in the A-10C or F-16, but maaan the F-16 is hard. It’s behind you, and I can’t see the lights very well at all in VR. YMMV, but I haven’t got the boom and receptacle thing figured out quite yet.

I actually went from learning with the Hornet/Tomcat, to trying it with the Harrier and was able to plug after the first couple attempts. I wouldn’t say it was easy, but it was certainly no harder once I got the sight picture. The throttle response is sweet, which gives it a lot of points IMO.

In DCS, I’d rank them something like this:
Hornet: Easy mode (relatively speaking, AAR isn’t)
F-14B: Fairly easy in ‘bombing’ mode, A is harder with those engines that take a day and a half to spool up and compressor stall if you’re not careful (“Boom. Boom. Boom!” ‘Oh sh-’)
Harrier: Easy to handle, great response, can’t see the probe. Use the Force, Luke. :sweat_smile:
F-16C/A-10C: It can’t land on a boat, and refueling tackle is backwards. Why would you want to fly that?


My list is

Su 33

I find the harrier easier because of the smaller changes you can make in power and locking the flaps in 1 setting

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My only input for those having issues with stabbing the basket in the sim - who tend to over-control is: I try to sense the ‘slack’ in my stick. Depending on the ‘slack’ in your stick :thinking: here (I’ve done with one that had a lot, relatively speaking, and my current one that seems to have none).

To make slow gradual movements I sensed all I did was take up the slack - not really moving it however. Perhaps an analogy: a manual transmission car (ok, this may not help):

right when you sense the clutch is ‘touching’ is as far as I move it - just the sense of pressure. Anyway, I stopped doing the, what’s it called, PIO roller-coaster thing (so much).

The video above he mentions using the rudder. My pedals need replacing - a lot of jitter in them so I don’t use em for this. Need to mow some more lawns; save up for new pedals.


Agreed. Should in theory be easier I guess. But yeah, the lights are hard to see and what?, 50 feet ahead of you (or more?). The up-down/high-low (or is it the forward/aft one?..arg) part is harder to stabilize on. I think Boom AR was actually easier in 2D (the only thing that was) than in VR. But it’s been a while.

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You all forgot the mirage 2000 in your lists. It is by far the easiest to plug because FBW and that gorgeous French HUD that will tell you exactly how much you are accelerating.

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