Monday, October 18, 2010

DCS: A-10C Warthog - Angle of attack: watch it, is not just a stall indicator - Part 1

You like to get to the target as fast as you can, push the buttons, drop the bombs, fire the missiles, strafe the tanks ... The fun things. All cool, dude. Same here. But have you checked your flight gaits lately?

If you are one of those flight simmers who think that the throttle controls airspeed and that the stick controls climb or descent rate, you need to go back to flight school.

Believe me, back when I started flight simming I wish somebody would have been as blunt as I am being with you right now. My flying was a continuous phugoid, an unruly struggle of chasing the vertical speed indicator without knowing what the f**k I was doing.

A while ago I posted an entry about the infamous "angle of attack"  flight parameter and the epiphany I got learning about it from the venerable book "Stick and Rudder". From the book introduction (this excerpt is also in my previous blog entry):

At this very moment, thousands of men, trying to learn to fly, are wasting tens of thousands of air hours simply because they don't understand how an airplane flies; because they don't see the one fact that explains just about every single thing they are doing; because they lack the one key that with one click unlocks most of the secrets of the art of flying.
In the textbooks, this thing is discussed under the name of Angle of Attack. The story of the Angle of Attack is in a way the theory of flight: if you had only two hours in which to explain the airplane to a student pilot, this is what you would have to explain. It is almost literally all there is to flight. It explains all about the climb, the glide, and level flight; much about the turn; practically all about the ordinary stall, the power stall, the spin. It takes the puzzlement out of such maneuvers as the nose-high power approach; it isthe theory of landing. No maneuver can be fully understood unless you understand this one thing. You may then still not be able to fly well; you may still be clumsy at moving the stick and rudder perfectly together. Your eyes and ears and feet may still be a little dull; but you will understand flying and not be puzzled; you will be able to figure out what you ought to do; you will be able to analyze your own mistakes; and you will get by.

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm going to explore different flight conditions for the A-10C viewed from the angle of attack point of view.

My Hog is not climbing, neither stalling. It's flying straight and level at 143 kts IAS!
Stay tunned.



kylania said...

Wow, I'm really looking forward to this, since it's a subject I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around.

I've been spending a lot of time practicing my landings and have it down somewhat OK now but in doing so I know I'm doing it wrong.

All the guides I'm following repeat what you said, "throttle for altitude and pitch for speed", but I'm just not getting that down at all. I'm still ramping up the throttle at the end to maintain speed...

Looking forward to part 2 :)

JC said...


Thanks for your comment. A new entry about this is up. Don't expect too much, though. :)