On this page, we hope to give advice regarding the concept of flying with a Wingman when playing an Online Simulation like "Warbirds".
First let me say, that I have been flying online and multiplayer sims now for about 7 to 8 years. About a 3 years ago, When I was in another (now defunct) squadron. I was approached by another squadron pilot about becoming my regular wingman, and I quickly agreed. It was the best thing that happened to my flying experience. We both learned from each other, and now I have gotten so used to flying with a wingman, that I feel naked when he's not around to cover my six. I hope to, within this page provide you with some tips that have helped both me and my wingman learn to fly together, and in some way develop a sort of identity.
1.) First find a Potential Candidate: This is harder than it seems for some people, the internet seems to be teaming with people who just want to be loners. If you're INVOLVED with an Online Sim like Warbirds, or at even a Virtual Squadron that plays some type of IP game regularly. That is where you should start. Be friendly, offer advice if asked, and most importantly "Listen" to what others are typing or saying while online. If in Warbirds, join a squadron, but dont do this haphazardly. Take time to find out what your perspective squadron is all about. This will help to ensure that you meet people online with the same interest as you.
2.) Get to Know your New Partner: I'm not talking about getting involved in his personal life, I'm talking about learning the things he likes to do when he flys, what kind of Aircraft does he usually fly? What is the Attack Method he usually goes into? Is it the Slashing type preferred by the Boom & Zoom artist or does he usually wind up in a Turn & Burn battle? How well does he converse while flying? By this I mean does he convey the situation really well on what he plans to do, or does he just drop in and hope that you can keep up?
3.) Decide on who is going to be the Leader: This always seems to be another sticking point with some wingman teams. It is almost always, the main reason for the breakups of wingmen combinations. So prepare to be flexible with this. My advice on this is to take turns at being the leader. Some guys just naturally prefer to remain in the back seat, but in order to improve their flying abilities, and their own Situational Awareness you have to put them in the leaders position so those qualities will develop. Also if your used to always leading, you will have no idea of what it's like to follow someone. Take the time to learn what its like to follow someone for awhile. You'll gain new found knowledge.
4.) Communicate: This is one of the Ultimate Concepts to learn. If you fly Warbirds and all you have is keyboard communications, develop a system that you both understand. Keep the conversation short and too the point. If you have VOX ..... don't become a chatty kathy, again develop a system that both you and your partner understand. If I can suggest, pick up a Voice Program for Gaming such as Teamspeak, or Ventrilo. My squad has personally used Teamspeak, and have had no noticable problems with warps or delays. Both of these programs seem to work well with IP based internet games such as iEN's Total Sims. They are fully compatible with most of the soundcards currently on the market.
5.) Practice: Practice flying with each other as often as possible. My wife tends to think that on some evenings I talk more to my Wingie, than I do to her. Get yourself a program that lets you know when your wingman is online, such as ICQ, or AOL Instant Messenger. Contact each other when your both online and make arrangements to practice various moves, find out what you partners favorite escape moves are. If you know these, you will learn where to position your aircraft in order to best take advantage of your opponent. Practice flying in formation, try different formations. Learn to fly in an offset wing, learn to fly abreast. Practice flying in formation at various distances, sometimes bring it in close (We have been as close as 50 ft. away from each other) and then try extending it. I cant speak for other flying sims, because I never played them .... but in Warbirds, the game does not allow for friendly midair collisions. This in my opinion hurts your ability to bring it in close, because there is no consiquences. EAW is a game that allows midairs, so flying in close takes on a whole new meaning. Try getting to about 50 ft distance and staying there for awhile. See how much concentration it takes.
6.) Tactics: OK, so you know and understand the basics of ACM. But, do you know all the different types of tactics for flying with a wingman? There are a number of sites on the internet that deal with wingmen tactics (Some of them can be found at this site). Flying with a wingman is quite different than flying by yourself, and the tactics are much different. Once you learn a tactic, play online, fly together and practice getting it down pat. Then go and learn another tactic. Eventually you will learn them all, and as an added bonus find out what most of your enemies usually fall for.
7.) Plane Choices: In most games, they offer a variety of plane types. So which planes do you and your wingman choose. Well my opinion here is to offset your planes weaknesses. If the plane you're flying in has a great roll rate, but doesnt climb that well. And you both take that bird.... guess what? You and your Wingman have the exact same weaknesses. If however you pair up a FW190 and a Spit IXC, both of these planes strengths tend to offset each others weaknesses. There are going to be times that you must fly the same aircraft. If that happens, then you both should know what your birds Weaknesses are and fly with that knowledge imbedded into your psyche. Learn all the aircraft in the games that you play.
8.) Never - Ever Leave Your Wingman: This is the Cardinal Rule of Flying with a Wingman. and it speak's for itself. You are now part of a TEAM, and there is no " I " in team.
9.) Have Fun: Now that you have a wingman, have fun with him. Hopefully you have found a new friend for a long, long time. And if you picked right, this friend enjoys the same things that you like to do with your online time.