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Battlefield 2: The Definitive Guide to Flying Aircraft

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Mar 7, 2004
Los Angeles
Battlefield 2: The Definitive Guide to Piloting Aircraft

The Definitive Guide to Piloting Aircraft v1.0


You look around as the gunner of your DPV as you pull into an enemy-held point. You hop out and draw your M-16 to take a look around. Suddenly, you hear roar of twin turbojet engines and look back to see a smoking crater where your DPV once was. You look out over the horizon to see a MiG-29 flying away to find another target. Ever wanted to fly like a real pilot? This guide will show you how. I was a bit inspired by Sjaak, a fellow pilot with a really cool looking name, and his guide to helicopters, so I decided to create this guide with some practical experience thrown in. Basically, what you are reading is the climax of about 4 solid years of piloting experience, through over 4 different games, with Battlefield 2 being the latest. Enjoy!


Firstly, you must make sure you are equipped well enough to fly. I cannot stress enough BUY A JOYSTICK. If mice were the best way to control planes, the F-22 would be equipped with a mouse, but it isn't. So buy a good joystick with twist rudder control. They're not too expensive, I have the Logitech Extreme3DPro joystick and it is all I can ask for. It will help you control the plane more efficiently.

Next, you must make sure your computer is up to snuff. Make sure your computer can handle flying over the map at farily high speeds in good detail. If you haven't done so already, pump up your Visual Distance to 100% and turn Geometry to "High" so you can see targets further.

Once you have accomplished this, move onto the next section.

Choices, Choices, Choices...

You might be asking, what kit do I use? What plane should I fly? How do I even fly this thing? Well I have answers. Timmy over here is using his Anti Tank kit to fly. Lets remember Timmy's mom dropped him on his head when he was a baby, so Timmy isn't so smart. Anti Tank is basically useless in the air, becuase I don't think you're going to be using your SRAW or Eryx in the cockpit. Anti-Tank also has the slowest run and the shortest sprint, so it's unlikely you'll get your plane. Sally is a stereotypical blonde, but at least she's not as dumb as Timmy. Sally uses the Engineer/Assault/Sniper/Support kits when she flies. Well, since none of these kits really do anything for you in the cockpit, and aren't really fast enough to guarantee you'll get a plane. Now Billy is a smart one. Billy uses either SpecOps or Medic when he flies. Why? Well SpecOps has the fastest run and longest sprint, so Billy always gets the plane he wants, and Sally and Timmy have to ground-pound, sucks for them. Medic isn't as fast as SpecOps, however, when Billy flies out of bounds, the Medic has the most health points and is able to survive a bit longer out of bounds. This is extremely important on maps with cramped boundries like Dalian Plant, where runs on the carrier are most commonly done coming from out of bounds or when you stall.

Now, plane choices. You have traditionally 2 types of planes. Your Fighter and your Fighter/Bomber.

US Fighters: F-18, F-35
MEC Fighter: MiG-29
Chinese Fighter: J-10

As far as maneuverability goes...J-10>MiG-29>F-18>F-35. The J-10 is vastly superior to anything in the sky when in the hands of a good pilot, and is a great plane overall, and should be preferred. The F-35 eats up afterburner and isn't really too maneuverable, so it's usually not wise to try to engage a J-10 with it unless you know you are a better pilot.

Now, fighter bombers are not as maneuverable as Fighters, yet pack a little bit more Air to Ground firepower in the form of Retarded Bombs and Laser Guided Missiles.

US Fighter/Bomber:F-15
MEC Fighter/Bomber: Su-34
Chinese Fighter/Bomber: Su-30

As far as how good the fighter/bombers are: Su-34>Su-30>F-15. Again the US isn't really very good when compared to other things. The Su-34 has an undescribeable feel you just have to fly it to beliefe. The Su-30 is a close second, but I find the 34 has a good feel when bombing and dogfighting.

On most maps, you may not have a choice what plane you fly. On Gulf of Oman, you can only fly the JSF (F-35) if you are on the US side. However, MEC has more of a choice. Really, it's all about what you want to do. If you feel like bombing is going to get you more points, do that. However, if you want to bomb and still be able to take on fighters and stuff easily, go with a fighter. It's really about what the competition is giving you. The missiles on the Su-34 do work, but it's usually better to just use guns on ground targets and maybe try to take out the occasional Blackhawk with the missiles.

Basic Flying

Well you're sitting in the hangar in your plane. Firstly, make sure you have your joystick configured right. Make sure your throttle, rudder, elevator and ailerons are configured right. Unless you want controls like the alien space fighter in Independence Day, trust me, get these right. Okay, so everything is all set. Flip your throttle to 100% and hit the afterburner. It's important to use afterburner on all takeoffs as it gets you in the air faster and reduces runway takeoff distance. After you are in the air, you will need to make a turn. Ease the stick to the left and pull back on the stick. For now, you are not Tom Cruise in Top Gun, just go easy on the stick and keep your plane in control. When you have had enough of this, try coming in for a landing. Landings require precise throttle and altitude control. The flight physics aren't super realistic, but unless you are landing you generally want your throttle at 100%. However, on landings, you want enough to keep your speed above stalling, but not too fast. Start reducing altitude and when you have slowed down enough to start stalling, pull back lightly on the stick and let the plane ease itself to the ground. Once your gear hits the ground, go to full reverse thrust and try not to hit anything. Really, you shouldn't even need to land in BF2, but it's good practice for airplane control. So once you've landed, practice taxing with the rudder. It takes a bit of practice to get it right, but it's important to be able to taxi correctly if you need to. Once you feel you've mastered this, move onto the next section.

Advanced Flying

For this excercise, start out on a map like Gulf of Oman or Dragon Valley or Zatar Wetlands, or any map with the US LHD (Aircraft Carrier). We're going to do a vertical takeoff. Don't worry if you go into the water the first couple times. Trust me, I've done it. Basically, throw the throttle back to full reverse thrust to engage the hover capability of the JSF. You will start to come off the carrier deck and slowly gain altitude. Now here's the tricky part. Put the plane into full throttle and hit the afterburner. You will need speed quickly otherwise you will stall. Keep pulling back on the stick to keep it straight and level, then you will transition into regular flight. Now, you might see people doing straight takeoffs or tilting back and then flying straight. Really, these methods don't work. A plane tilting back makes a great target, and going straight off that small pad makes about a 75% chance you'll take damage, and going straight off the long end makes about a 25% chance you hit something on the carrier deck. Don't do it.

Firstly, this is not the movies. You cannot pull a Tom Cruise and "hit the brakes and he'll fly right past us". That doesn't work. Ever. You need to master when to use the afterburner to your advantage and flying in enviornments that don't really suit flying. For this, load up Kubra Dam. Kubra dam has a lot of vertical challenges, most of which make flying difficult. Cranes and a huge *** dam make this a challenging map to create bombing runs on. For this, grab a MiG-29. Basically, try flying around the map a bit to get used to stuff. Try doing some mock bombing/strafing runs on control points. Basically, just point towards the point, then pull away. Bombing runs are basically strafing runs done from higher altitude and in a slightly steeper dive. Once you have got this down, you will need to learn what your plane can and can't do. See that open intake turbine at the bottom of the dam? Fly through it. You will probably crash a few times...but it vastly helps your control. You will learn how to line up and how to keep your plane on a straight path with minimal correction. Also note the really cool sound effect as you fly through. Got that? Try flying through some of the gaps higher up in the dam. Try going the other way. Ready for the ultimate challenge? You know that hole where the lower dam control point is? Try flying through that. You will need to line up perfectly, start out flying straight and level, then rotate 90 degrees to the right or left to clear the wall on the left side and make it out. I've done it, although very few others have. If you even want more challenge, try going reverse, which is extremely difficult. Once you feel like you've got this down, or at least pretty well done, feel free to move onto the fun stuff. Blowing stuff up.

Basics of ACM (Air Combat Maneuvers)

The following images are taken from Dan Crenshaw's excellent guide to ACM (link)


This one is simple enough. You want to be on the same angle with the "bandit" you are pursuing. There's about a 0% PK (probability of kill) when you have an angle off of 90 degrees. When you have 0, you are 1 finger movement away from putting a virtual missile up somebody's tailpipe.


Simple enough as well. You must move as your prey does. Basically, match wings with the person you're pursuing so they don't move in a direction you are physically uncapable of moving at that moment.


This one is CRITICAL to your effectiveness in the air. Using defined pursuit procedures is the best thing you can do to maximize your PK. Lets face it. Your guns will not kill from far out without rediculous aim. Your missiles probably will not track very well from far out. You need to get into your weapons range. Lead pursuit is a shortcut to where the target is going. Use this to close in, but not after that, as you will overshoot. Also note that if you are in a turning fight with an airplane with similar abilities, lead pursuit will be hard to maintain, and you will probably overshoot. Pure pursuit will eventually lead to an overshoot, so use it wisely when you need to keep your position. Lag pursuit is the best choice for BF2. You can sit behind people for hours doing this without even a chance of overshooting. The only problem is you may loose the target because of your small POV, so make sure you keep an eye on where it's going. Making the bandit smoke is another way to do this.

Offensive BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers)

You will need to use Offensive BFM when the enemy is aware of your presense behind him or her and starts to begin Defensive BFM. If your target is straight and level, come up behind them and put 2 quick missiles into them for an easy kill. However, if they start to break, you should know these strategies cold to get you the kill.

The rule that should be implanted in everybody's head from birth by robots is IF YOU HAVE A SHOT, TAKE IT IMMEDIATELY. Even if 1 missile misses, you still may have put some damage into the bandit. This is sooo important I cannot stress it enough.

At this point, the bandit either is a smoking pile of wreckage plumetting to the ground, or has heard the missile lock tone. He will probably drop flares and break a certain direction, which is your indication to start pursuit. You should be in lag pursuit just following him, being careful not to overshoot. Now it's your move. You must be able to match speeds with the bandit and get as close as possible for a guns shot, or take a missile shot. In BF2, the missiles track...well...pretty bad...so guns might be your best bet. First, switch into bomb mode so that he thinks you're gone (if he's stupid). Okay, so he hears nothing. Okay, back to normal? No. Close in and then match speed with him. The airplane guns are...well...awesome, so use them. Aim at the bulk of his plane, the fuselage, and just romp on it. The guns don't overheat, so use as much ammo as you need to, because you probably won't run out. If he levels out, just use missiles and blow him away, but guns are probably better. Also, note that the wreckage in BF2 floats in the air, and WILL kill you if you get too close. Know when the bandit is about to become your newest kill, and be ready to break off.

Offensive BFM takes practice, but with some time put in and a bit of skill, you will be destroying other planes like it's nobody's buisness. You need to know your aircraft and the boundries it has and your opponent has. Other than that, I have not much else to say about Offensive BFM.

Defensive BFM

You're flying along in your F-35 on Dalian Plant, enjoying the nice work of the Dice modeling team on all the statics on the level and probably trying to kill some stuff along the way. Suddenly you hear a beeping missile search tone followed by the solid missile lock tone. You drop flares and break, only to switch views to see 2 Chinese J-10s ready to kick your ***. What do you do? I'm here to answer that question for you, and the answer is Defensive BFM. The first thing is identification. You will get a missile tone warning from most pilots, however, good ones will not lock on you when they are trying to get close. Instead, they will wait until you are already doomed to take the shot. As such, you need to keep your eyes open. Not only do I look and listen for the warning, I also have set my hat stick to cycle through the views, so I can see what's behind me exactly. Once you have identified a target, you need to know specifics. Basically, you need to know if it's a fighter or a bomber, and then you should be able to deduce what moves to make. If it's a bomber and you're in a fighter, you have the advantage. Simply outmaneuver the sucker. If it's matched, then you're going to have to force him to make a mistake. If it's unmatched...you better start saying your prayers if it's a good pilot, or you could try running like hell.

The FIRST TURN of defense is so important. Your first move can basically make or break a fight. After the first turn, it becomes much harder for you. What I like to do is break so the missile doesn't hit, THEN release flares so that the n00b pilots might actually go after those (seen it happen). The way to do it is disrupt the offensive BFM of the bandit. Most pilots in BF2 are idiots, and probably don't know as much as you do right now. As such, they are easier to cause to make mistakes. Try to bring them up to the 3/9 line (on your wings), and try to get them to angle off, or even get out of plane. You have to know your enemy, and if the sucka behind you goes to lag pursuit, you know he's just about licking his lips ready for the kill. Best move? Pull that stick back and out-turn him. I don't care how, just make the tightest turn possible. There are no blackouts here, so don't worry about dying from the G-forces. If you can cause the attacker to overshoot, you can either reverse on him, or run. I'd probably go with reverse. Just reverse the turn you were making and get on his 6. Simple. If he goes to guns, just jink like crazy. I'm talking random and sudden changes of attitude (not PMSing, the way your plane is headed) every few seconds. Remember, never give up, and you will eventually win.

Misc. Stuff

Basically, this is the section for all the other stuff that doesn't really fit.

If you are in a head on scenario, you had better use that gun. Push that trigger down and spray the enemy with bullets. He may break, at which point you can break too and start offensive BFM, it really depends on what he does. I'm not going to go too far into it, because the times this happens are few and far in between, so you really don't have to worry about it. On certain maps, you can pull up into vertical and go into the sun, which might be useful. Just watch your altitude. Go above 1000 and you will loose control and probably go out of bounds.

If you do go above 1000, here is the best course of action. First, you want to get rid of as much altitude as possible. I'm talking do whatever it takes. I usually go to reverse thrust and let myself fall down to about 750, then go full afterburner and pull out. If you start drifting towards the side of the map, just let it be, as you should start to do flips and stuff which may turn you the other way. Don't bail out, as you will probably be hit by the plane and die. It takes practice, so go take a plane up there and try it.

Other than that, I can take out all the AA turrets in the game (yes, even tunguskas). I've done straight on runs against the Essex and killed it (I've died ONCE doing this, because my guns missed). Just sit there unloading into the Essex from a pretty long range (as far as you can see), and you should kill it. For IGLAs and Stingers, you can either bomb it or just shoot the guy out of it with guns. I've been killed by an IGLA once, basically because I pulled into vertical and came over and the missile hit me by chance, which was rediculous, but I guess it happened. Anyway, with enough practice, you will be able to do the same. You should make people in the IGLA fear that sound of your jet coming closer with the cannon blazing.


Well if you've read this far, I congratulate you. My eyes and fingers are sore from typing this much out, but it's worth it to have some new competition in the sky. Just practice, practice, practice. Don't let anybody ever tell you that you suck, just get better so one day, you can stuff that missile into their face and prove them wrong. So until next time, happy flying, and check your six ;).
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I can fly through the really hard spot you describe, but I can't hit anything with my retarded bomb. :p

Also, I am the best cam-guided gunner you will ever meet. The trick is to steer as little as possible, get the shot right the first time.
The retarded bombs do take practice, and a bit of experience to use. The dumb bombs (fighters drop these) take a bit more practice, as they require just a line of sight to drop them. The retarded bombs (the ones the bombers drop in sets of 5) are pretty easy. For the SU-34, the feel I'm talking about is that I can control exactly where the bombs will land. It's just a matter of getting the run up correct.
Man this stuff reminds me of the BMAT (basic militairy aviation tactics) they tried to feed me at the airforce.

Oni should add this and my thread to the official BF2 threads summary.

Seven said:
I was a bit inspired by Sjaak, a fellow pilot with a really cool looking name

I love you!

(you do know that Turbo McKwek is the crazy pilot from ducktales, don't you?)


  • Turbo_McK.JPG
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Oh my god...Sjaak just brought back my childhood.

I used to *worship* the DuckTales movies...especially cause they had those surfboards that they used in the sky, which I thought was so awesome.

Anyway, let me know what you guys think of the guide. I really should make a video out of this so you guys can see what I do...maybe if I get a good server with BattleRecorder, I'll whip one up on basic ACM.

Advanced BFM...Advanced BFM...

I mean, there really isn't much I can cover about Advanced BFM. It really depends. I could go into 2 on 1 offensive/defensive, 1 on 2 offensive, but really there's not that much more. Lets remember, if you have a buddy who's in the plane next to you, you can always fly together in formation. I actually like to do this, as it really complicates things for the defending plane, especially when he doesn't know what's going on and he's getting missiles constantly fired at him.

That's something you'll learn through experience though, it's really something you have to basically teach yourself.

perhaps lowlevel evasion tactics? i like to thunder through the dalien plant area, sure scares the hell out of other pilots when i do it, and tends to do that to myself also :D
That's a skill you have to learn.

I love doing full afterburner runs through Kubra Dam, bringing people through the Dam...oh god it's awesome.

Seven said:
I love doing full afterburner runs through Kubra Dam, bringing people through the Dam...oh god it's awesome.


Some time ago when i was in the hind, i was running from a bradley, flying through the dam. Suddenly, a plane came in through the other side, tried to dodge me and hit the tunnel side without causing me a scratch.

And, together with JoT, i've been chasing tanks and jeeps through the tunnel :cool:
Thanks Oni!

EDIT: I may have to make a full on video about airplanes. It'll have all the techniques covered here, in addition to a special bonus section on how to grab a plane from tons of n00bs you know can't fly. Basically, it involves the ultimate technique for taking planes from n00bs, and it does work.
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Seven said:
Thanks Oni!

EDIT: I may have to make a full on video about airplanes. It'll have all the techniques covered here, in addition to a special bonus section on how to grab a plane from tons of n00bs you know can't fly. Basically, it involves the ultimate technique for taking planes from n00bs, and it does work.

You know what makes me want to strangle people? When there are 5 guys camping for the plane, i get it, then they stand in front of my wings so i get 5TK.

I don't even fly often and that already happened three times.
Triennium said:
This is off topic, but does anyone know if you get the grenade launcher with the updated assault kit?

no, the pre-upgrade assault kit is the only one with a grenade launcher.
personally i reccommend the medic upgrade if you don't already have it