Flying is a complicated thing to do and we, as sim pilots, are trying to have that experience as complicated and as realistic as possible. Training is therefore essential and it doesn’t matter if you’re a 10-year veteran of flight sims or if you just bought IL-2, DCS or some other sim during one of the sales in the last couple of weeks. I thought I’d reference just some of the training tutorials out there, how to find them, and how to find more so that you have the best flight sim experience possible.
NOTE: This article has been updated with many of your excellent suggestions on July 14, 2019.
Ground school for sim pilots
As much as a flight-sim itself can be instructive on how to fly and, in some cases, how to fight, you still need to have your own version of ground school. Learning by trial and error is far more possible in flight simming because you can always hit the refly button but sometimes you need more. As I said in my introduction to this piece, it really doesn’t matter if you just started last week or you’ve been doing this for 10-years… training and tutorials can help you become a better sim pilot and that tends to make everything so much more enjoyable.
There are tons of tutorials out there but I wanted to focus on some of the ones that I make use of quite a lot.
Air Combat Tutorial Library
Requiem maintains the awesome Air Combat Tutorial Library with hundreds of tutorial videos covering everything from the basics of flight to advanced combat manuevers. Requiem is a real life pilot who does pilot training and has brought that experience and confidence to his non-nonsense tutorial videos.
If you’re just getting started with a sim like IL-2, check out his taxiing introduction which is video #1 in his principles series. Though the sim used is IL-2, most of the principles function the same regardless of sim.
Requiem also does in-depth tutorials for all of the aircraft featured in the IL-2 Great Battles Series. Check out this video of his ‘how to fly the FW190A-8/F-8/G-8’ in IL-2 as just one example out there. In addition to giving in-depth tutorials it will also make you appreciate the level of detail that the IL-2 devs have gone into making these aircraft come to life.
The Grim Reapers tutorial series
The folks over at The Grim Reapers have done dozens upon dozens of videos for DCS World covering everything from missile tactics to how-to tutorials. These videos are in-depth and they have a unique approach.
For example, their AV-8B Harrier series is in-depth and it features Cap learning the AV-8B from several members of the Grim Reapers squad. Having read about learning styles in my professional life, I know that this approach can actually work really well for some people as they learn better watching someone else learning. It sounds weird but it works.
In addition to specific aircraft, the Grim Reapers do videos like the one below which covers evading short range IR missiles. Again, its in-depth and it can be really useful to go over these details or review them if it’s been a while since you last thought about it.
Quick (and dirty) with Laobi
Laobi has his own unique style and specializes in quick, irreverent, 1-minute tutorials covering all kinds of aircraft start-up and operational guides. For example, Laobi’s recent video on the new DCS: FW190A-8 goes through the whole setup process… in just 1-minute. If you’re in a hurry and need a quick refresher, Laobi is your guy!
Jabber’s in-depth on Tomcat and others
I’ve referenced Jabber’s tutorials for learning the Hornet and the Tomcat (though he has done other aircraft too) and they are great. Balancing depth with speed his whole series on the F-14 from the wait is almost over to ACM modes and how to fly and fight are wonderfully detailed but just the right length for me.
Tutorials with RedKite
RedKite is another YouTuber with some great tutorial resources on how to fly different aircraft in the series. Succinct and no-nonsense, if you want step by step tutorials on how to do things in DCS World, RedKite is probably the right style for you. Just like the other tutorials out there, RedKite covers the details you need to know. For example, check out his Basic Carrier Operations tutorial.
More tutorials with Growling Sidewinder (updated)
Growling Sidewinder is another YouTuber who was suggested in the comments section. I hadn’t watched his tutorials but I discovered some great stuff on his channel too including a very valuable series on radio terminology especially as it pertains to DCS.
The definitive Chuck’s Guides (Updated)
Somehow I missed this in my earlier update and completely neglected Chuck’s Guides. These are the definitive text manuals for a lot of DCS World aircraft focused on providing comprehensive yet friendly overviews on both the essentials and the details for most DCS World (and some IL-2) aircraft out there.
Bunyap Sim’s excellent coverage of older DCS modules (Updated)
A lot of you in the comments said to me “what about Bunyap sims” which is a resource that I wasn’t terribly aware of. Bunyap appears to have stopped making newer videos but his older ones still stand the test of time covering plenty of details on some older DSC World modules and notably with the A-10C. This A-10C “Gun Employment” video is the first ever on his channel, done 5 years ago, and its still very relevant to DCS: A-10C virtual pilots now. Check him out!
There are so many more tutorials and resources out there but these are some that I frequent all the time. Sometimes I need one over the other but I feel the each of them appeals to different learning styles and different personalities so while one may work for you, your friend may benefit from one of the others – and that’s ok! All of these do the same thing by helping you learn what you need to so you can have fun with the latest module in DCS World or IL-2 – or get you started from scratch!
If you don’t see what you’re looking for here, hop on to YouTube and search for the DCS World module or specific task that you need to do. You’ll find a very wide variety of tutorials out there that should help get you going. YouTube is an incredible resource for these types of videos and I encourage you to search for whatever you need!
As a friend of mine who is is a personal trainer will say – always training! Keep your skills sharp, review tutorials, and take that knowledge into the sim world. If it means setting up an iPad or a laptop next to you (even old ones do the trick here), then go ahead and do that. I find it helps quite a lot!
Keep at it and I hope this helps!