Air Combat Maneuvering
Nose high maneuvering does not come without a price, however. Because we are fighting gravity
initially, our airspeed will bleed and our turn rate suffers. A smart bandit will use this knowledge to
redefine the fight into one more advantageous to him.
Out-of-plane nose low can actually increase rate and decrease radius which makes it a very attrac-
tive tool in BFM. In a fight defined by turn rate, digging nose lower than a bandit allows us to sustain
a higher turn rate and bring the nose to bear first. It can also be used effectively to close range
through lead pursuit (low yo-yo).
Alas, nothing in this world is free. A wily bandit will either counter your use of out-of-plane by
changing his own plane of motion, or realize that you are paying an energy price for your maneuver
(in terms of altitude/potential energy), and capitalize on this.
Want to know the quickest way to win a fight? Cause the bandit to lose sight of you. You can
probably guess what the quickest way to lose a fight is.
The importance of getting and maintaining sight cannot be overemphasized. Whether its obtaining
the first tally from a long-range intercept or keeping sight of an aggressively maneuvering bandit in
low-visual conditions, sight is critical. You cant fight what you dont see. Lose sight, lose the fight.
Pick your clich, theyre all true.
With that said, lets talk about some techniques to keep sight once engaged (well address the long-
range tally plan in the section on BVRs).
First, preflight your gear. Your helmet, mask and visor all need to fit perfectly, and they must
maintain this fit under g. If they dont, get them fixed. Your comm cords must also be sufficiently
long to avoid restricting your head movement. But they cannot be so long that they get caught on
something behind your shoulders.
Dont carry any unnecessary charts or pubs. One tight fitting kneeboard, perhaps, but stow every-
thing else. Youre going into combat and theres nothing more distracting than free-floating approach
plates during a 0-g unload.
Develop a feel for flying your airplane with either hand. You must be a contortionist to keep sight
when defensive (unless youre Linda Blair), and this will require twisting your shoulders as far behind
you as humanly possible. But this is where sight is more crucial than ever.
Finally, develop a game plan for lost sight. Know when it might occur and extrapolate the bandits
position for the second or two it will require to regain a tally. He cannot instantaneously reposition
his lift vector (unless hes in the vertical and slow), so move your eyes to that piece of sky he was
driving toward when you lost him. While doing all this, KEEP PULLING!
If you are unable to pull against an unseen bandit, simply wait a couple of potatoes and then check
your six. Hell be there.