Note to Editors: These are very basic and could be fleshed out more. Depending on how much each section gets fleshed out, each might need its own page, titled “Flight - (Section name)”.
Ground Movement (Taxiing)
You will often need to move your aircraft on the ground, for example to pick up some Passengers.
- Steering while taxiing is done with the Roll axis on your controller.
- Move forward gently using short bursts of your Translate forward control (“Forward/backward without pitch for VTOL” in Settings - Controls).
- Keep your speed low and controllable.
- Brake with “strafe” backward. You can taxi backwards this way, too!
Flight Near the Ground
- The aircraft generates more lift and generally performs better when it’s near the ground (this is called “ground effect”).
- If you are in a hover near the ground, you’ll see that the aircraft responds more quickly to changes in altitude.
- Sometimes you can exploit this effect to navigate around airports faster than taxiing, or to make precision adjustments to your landing.
- Be aware of the drop in aircraft performance as you climb out of ground effect.
- Apply power gently, especially if your aircraft is heavily loaded.
- Be aware of wind direction and be ready to compensate for it. If the wind is very heavy, yaw so the nose of the aircraft is facing into it.
- As your altitude increases out of ground effect, be ready to apply more power to keep rising.
- As you clear any obstacles, pitch forward to gain speed.
- Re-adjust the throttle to maintain the altitude you will start to lose from pitching forward.
- Plan your approach path to the landing zone when it’s within visual range. Consider obstacles and hazards. “Good approaches make for good landings.”
- As you get near the landing zone, stabilize your airspeed, altitude, and flight path. You should make only small changes to any of these until landing.
- Take note of the wind conditions at your landing zone. Ideally, by the time you are within about 5-10 aircraft lengths of the touchdown spot, you want to have maneuvered the aircraft so that the nose is pointed as much into the wind as possible.
- With the landing spot well in front of you, reduce the throttle slightly to begin slowly losing altitude. Keep the descent rate to about 10 m/s.
- Use the throttle to control the descent rate, and the Pitch to control where your aircraft will land. If it looks like you are going to overshoot, reduce your forward speed by pitching back slightly. If you’re going to land short, pitch forward slightly.
- When your altitude above ground level (AGL) gets to 100m, the Landing Camera will activate. You can use it to help you plan your touchdown, but don’t fixate on it. Keep managing your airspeed, descent rate, and final approach path.
- Be ready for ground-effect. Your descent rate may slow and you’ll need to re-adjust your pitch and/or throttle.
- If you’ve done a good approach, your horizontal position will be within no more than a wingspan from your landing spot.
- Reduce your descent rate to zero. Use the pitch control or “strafe” (horizontal translation) to position precisely over your touchdown spot. If you are landing at a Base and want to refuel or load/unload cargo, be sure to yaw so that your aircraft lines up with the airplane silhouette on the ground.
- Reduce your throttle very slightly to gently set down, and then throttle to zero for engine shut-off.
- If a landing is going very badly, it may be better to “go around.” Add throttle, climb out, leave the landing zone, reposition yourself and then come try it again. “Good approaches make for good landings.”
Some of the aircraft in FPS can transition from a vertical, directed-thrust flight (Vertical Flight or “VTOL mode”) to conventional horizontal flight mode using the wing for lift (Horizontal Flight or “airplane mode”). You can take off in Vertical Flight, build up forward airspeed and then transition to Horizontal Flight for better range, speed, and fuel economy over long distances. At your destination you can slow and transition back to Vertical Flight for landing.
NOTE: The starter aircraft (Scarab) is Vertical Flight only and cannot transition.
TODO: Transitioning other A/C; Link to the Instruments page about the different HUD.
Hazards to flight in FPS include:
- Hard Landings — Touching down with too high of a vertical speed can damage your landing gear, aircraft, or cargo. Watch the VSI when touching down.
- Volcanos and Geysers can erupt and disrupt your flight path, damage, or even destroy your aircraft if you are too close. Be aware of where they are even when they aren’t erupting.
- Engine Wear — Running the engines at high thrust for long periods of time causes excessive engine wear, causing engine thrust to drop, even below that needed for safe flight . Adjust your throttle smoothly and don’t run it any higher than needed.
- Radiation (“SKI Level”) — At higher altitudes, “solar weather” affects aircraft systems, causing damage and power loss. If you exceed the SKI level indicated on your instruments, first your radar turns off. If you keep ascending, your entire aircraft turns off. The SKI altitude can vary over time, which creates a challenge in mountainous terrain.
- Weather — Weather such as clouds, dust and fog can reduce visibility to zero. High winds can make landings much more challenging. The Augmented Reality view lets you “see” in whiteout conditions and also see what the wind is doing so you can use it to your advantage.
- Terrain — Impacting it at high speed is bad :)