This time I have the privilege of featuring a most distinguished aviator, fighter, and gentleman. He flies the WWI combat flight simulator Rise of Flight, where he goes by the name of Requiem. You will be most glad to find him fighting on your team, and terrified to find him on your enemy’s. He has earned the respect and affection of the flight simulation community worldwide by sharing freely his invaluable advice on taking to the air in a crate made of wood and canvas and fighting in it. Watching his (exquisitely economical, purposeful) instructional videos is mandatory for anyone with a love for machines that fly.
Most welcome, Requiem! By your accent in the YT videos we know you’re an Aussie but please tell more about yourself.
As you mention, you can tell from my accent that I am an Australian. Unfortunately I am not a pilot in real life although I always wanted to, but I have had a keen interest in aviation since I was very young. I remember being given Microsoft Flight Simulator 3.0 when I was around ten years old and spent a lot of time flying the Cessna 172 or Sopwith Camel around Meigs field, Chicago. My first real flight took place in gliders when I was fourteen along with more hours in the C172 later on, but the costs for me to get my licenses to pursue a career as a pilot were too great. I was always interested in being an Air Force pilot, but I did not work as hard as I should have in school so that career was not an option. After finishing high school I served in the Royal Australian Air Force for eight years in another capacity where I worked in different areas of aviation including fighter aircraft tactics, simulation, and air traffic control before discharging and moving with my wife to the United States. The Super Hornets came into service shortly after I had discharged as we only had upgraded models of the standard F/A-18 Hornet at that point in time. Right now I am studying to earn a degree in Biochemistry for entry into medical school to become a physician. Everything is on track for that so far thanks to the support of my wife and her family, so fingers crossed it all works out in the end. Aviation is more of a hobby for me than a career prospect now, but I plan to own and operate my own aircraft in the distant future.
RoF is your virtual arena of choice. Why did you pick this particular simulator? Is there any other combat or civilian simulator you frequent?
Rise of Flight more or less fell into my lap after I moved to the United States. I first saw it at a Fry’s Electronics store, but instead elected to research more about it instead of purchasing outright. My wife was with me at the time and asked me when we visited the same store later on if I wanted it, but I declined by noting the need to pay for planes put me off. Come Christmas Day a DVD shaped present is given to me, which as it turned out happened to be Rise of Flight. After that I flew pretty consistently and became proficient enough in the available aircraft to me rather quickly, but I noticed a lot of people were having problems just figuring out some of the basic concepts many take for granted, so I elected to start my YouTube channel in an attempt to cushion that learning curve as well as offer some of the more advanced concepts. I do own other simulators, but sometimes I really feel the need to fly more complicated aircraft, so for that I use DCS A-10C which allows a high degree of control for the avionics and weapon systems. I do own other flight simulators, but RoF and DCS A-10 are the only two I care to fly on for any length of time. I am hoping the next DCS title is DCS F/A-18 at which point I may just lock myself away and never see daylight again as I truly love that aircraft thanks to my previous experience with it.
One of the most difficult abilities to master in aerial combat must be Situational Awareness, a fluid sense of three-dimensional movement. You seem to master this elusive skill with ease so, in your opinion, besides TrackIR and practice, practice, practice, what advice can you give to those trying to become better air-dancers?
Funny you ask that as my last article in World War One Aero #211 was all about developing Situational Awareness. When people think of this all they may be thinking of is simply spatial awareness, but in fact it includes spatial awareness and everything else going on around you including your position on the map, fuel state, ammo state, how many opponents, etc. This is something that I definitely know was developed during my service in the Air Force through the requirements of my job to think spatially. I had never heard of TrackIR when I first started playing RoF and relied upon the snap view system they had available and did not suffer for it at all. Using these snap views forces you to make predictions based on the last known visual picture you had of your opponent which you use to determine how you want to maneuver. The key is getting proficient in the little things involved in flight before you even attempt dogfighting, otherwise you end up suffering ‘overload’ which occurs when you become flustered and up being reactive to what is happening around you instead of being proactive. Be comfortable in your aircraft of choice. Fly it exclusively for a few weeks and get to the point where you can perform the basics of taking off, climbing, adjusting mixture/radiator, and turning all while looking outside the cockpit and only listening to the engine. After that you should start formation flying since helps you develop the spatial picture in your mind of where your wingman is even when he is out of sight as you scan around for bandits. In addition to developing more spatial ability, your dogfighting ability will also have increased through a lot of formation flying because dogfighting is very similar. The only difference is instead of just forming up and staying in position, you need to form up on the opponent in an advantageous shooting position to take him out. Honestly, good situational awareness comes down to high proficiency in the basic tasks. This allows more brain power to be allocated to following your opponent with less needed to do the basics.
Any words of encouragement for civilian flight simmers to try their hands at RoF?
There is nothing to lose and everything to gain when you try RoF because you can grab it for free here. You will have full access to all parts of the game whether it is for singleplayer or multiplayer, but you are limited to using the Spad X.III and the Albatros DVa. All you need to do is give it a go, fly for a while, and see what you think. If you enjoy RoF you can just buy the planes you want to fly, and while RoF is very rewarding to fly the learning curve may be intimidating initially, so be sure to read parts of the manual to avoid any frustrations. This is not a simulator where you can expect to be an ace in a day, as I and many others can testify to when we started out, but instead its about pushing forward so you end up feeling more confident and satisfied at being proficient in your flying. However, if any problems or questions arise the community is extremely helpful, especially towards newcomers, so don’t be shy and say hello!
I am particularly grateful to Requiem for all the effort he puts into trying to make us machine-gunned fireballs into worthy airmen. If you haven’t already, go see his YouTube channel, where you’ll find a goldmine of tutorials and advice. Just one small sample: