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Good guide for landing aircraft with FAR for absolute noobs?


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I've picked up the game again since some time, with Ferram Aerospace Reseach (continued) this time, but I can't land any aircraft anywhere. I can't even reliably touch the Lvl3 runway when making an approach with the E42 (the fighter-like craft). I've installed 'NavUtilities continued', which has helped me line up neatly, for a fill-length fly-over the runway, but I don't fully grasp all the information that it is trying to give me. If I manage to let the back-wheels touch the ground before any other part of the plane does, the bounce still crashes the plane.

I've realized that my landing technique (in the base game) is basically 'quicksave, stall out and hope the pilot survives, reload, repeat, get frustrated, and then work around it (chutes, cheats, VTOL)'. I tried letting MechJeb (2) 'autoland aircraft' handle this, and well, that doesn't work atm.

So I seem to have a big fundemantal gap in my knowledge and skill in landing aircraft. A quick googling has yielded me mostly very limey youtube videos, none of which relate to FAR and all of them seem out of date. The forum posts I've found are mostly 1-off tips to 'watch for things' and me trying to do so just ends in more pancaking.

Does anybody know a good, preferably step-by-step guide on how to (properly) land an aircraft in KSP, ideally one that also works with FAR installed? Mod-recommendations and all?

Edited by The-Grim-Sleeper
de-crudi-fication
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Thank you for the response @Bottle Rocketeer 500

I've had a look at the guide, but think you overestimate my skill level. The guide seems very, uhm 'Draw the rest of the owl' in terms of detailing information.

It also completely fails to address any of the problems I have, like rolling off the far end of the runway, wheel bounce, the craft bucking and jostling as you hit the breaks, how you can use mod to make things easier instead of harder, etc.

Edited by The-Grim-Sleeper
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@The-Grim-Sleeper For rolling off the runway, look at the text at the end of the guide: remember to deploy spoilers immediately when you land (this will slow the craft down and prevent it from jumping as much), press the brakes button near the altimeter before landing, and deploy reverse thrust soon after landing (I did it too late in the guide, so I almost rolled off the runway). You should land in the Touch Down Zone, as shown in the diagram below. The problem with bouncing can be because of possibly not deploying the spoilers or problems with the airplane.

RunwayDiagram.png

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runway#/media/File:RunwayDiagram.png

A few questions:

Where are you trying to land?

What airplane are you using?

I recommend using my KS-120.

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I have found the brake button, yes. Vanilla stock aircraft don't have spoilers (or none that work anyway).

I am trying to land at the Space Center Runway, with a heading of 270 degrees (so from the sea toward the mountains).

I've tried landings with the 'E42 (Stock)' (the fighter-like craft) and am reducing my ambitions to the 'Gull (Stock)', the stock water-landing aircraft (although it sure as hell doesn't survive any ACTUAL water landings).

I really don't want to install parts packs and tweak-scale on top at this time. So the KS-120 will have to wait for now.

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@The-Grim-Sleeper there is a good mod, 'nav utilities', which provides an ILS with descent ramps for all runways in Kerbin. It also has a VOR of sorts with DME. It looks like a VOR but doesn't give you radials, so it functions more like an ADF with unlimited range (which is pretty useful). You can also tweak with the configs and set up nav points for anywhere in Kerbin. There are in the forums configs for all runways in 'kerbin side', for instance, which adds dozens of new landing sites all around kerbin. 

It sure beats approaching the runway with the use of nothing but "eyeball mk 1". Most command pod's IVAs won't even allow you an unobstructed view ahead anyway, and seeing from outside (or 3rd person pov, shall we call it) is very amateurish. 

EDIT: if you do download it, note that clicking the button opens the instrument, but "alt-clicking" the button opens an user interface where you can set which runway you want, what heading you are coming from, and even change the glideslope angle.

EDIT-EDIT: since you're there, download some autopilot mod, maybe 'kramax autopilot', which has an autothrottle function which is great for landings. 

Edited by Daniel Prates
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6 minutes ago, Daniel Prates said:

@The-Grim-Sleeper there is a good mod, 'nav utilities',

You mean the 'NavUtilities continued' mod, by user Ser? Yes, I have that.

I've seen those acronyms in the mod, but I don't know what they mean, or how to use them to land. Most I've been using it to line up my approach in the lateral directions

9 minutes ago, Daniel Prates said:

EDIT-EDIT: since you're there, download some autopilot mod, maybe 'kramax autopilot', which has an autothrottle function which is great for landings. 

I'll look into that.

How would you say it compares to MechJebs2's aircraft autopilot tools?

Edited by The-Grim-Sleeper
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8 minutes ago, The-Grim-Sleeper said:

You mean the 'NavUtilities continued' mod, by user Ser? Yes, I have that.

Yes, that. Glad you have it. It is by far the best way to approach any runway without guesswork. 

I would be fine with guesswork if I could land all aircraft (that means, aircraft will any cockpit in the game) from inside (IVA that is), and if we had some descent rate measurement ('kerbal engineer' gives you a vertical speed gauge, which helps), but most do not provide an unobstructed view ahead. Like that its just impossible. And from outside view you are just rounding up the plane 'by feeling' as it gets nearer. Its just no good. It may work more or less but is no way to land. 

Well... .assuming you are using the ILS, it's easy. Try to keep above your stall speed during the approach, and when you cross the runway, round up the descent rate a bit, that is, hold up your nose without actually climbing again, and kill your engines. The speed loss will bring you down. Just don't overdo it, as you might stall too high above the runway and fall in too hard, perhaps breaking the landing gears, or worse, loosing control so much that the nose or other part hits the ground first.

Edited by Daniel Prates
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34 minutes ago, The-Grim-Sleeper said:

'll look into that.

How would you say it compares to MechJebs2's aircraft autopilot tools?

There are many autopilots out there. 'pilot helper', ''atmospheric autopilot', 'kramax'... I never tried mechjeb, can you beleive it? But that is because mechjeb does it all for you, I think it is kinda gamey. I like proper tools for doing it myself, and not a tool that will auto-do it for me. 

So my plane flying setup is this:

1 - Kerbal Engineer for placing, on screen, several relevant info. Specially vertical speed (to gauge sink rate and climb rate), mach number, terrain versus sealevel altitude, and others

2 - Atmospheric Autopilot has a tool (the only one I use) that they call 'fly-by-wire', which is actually a auto-trim. It will keep your plane flying steady by constantly setting the control surfaces. Just press 'p' and control surfaces will keep trimming to provide you an easier control. Specially good for nose trimming. (EDIT. in real life you have yokes, sticks etc., which you can fine-tune. In  ksp you are forced to use the keyboard, which is either 'pressed' or 'unpressed', which wont't do. This is why I like this auto-trimming function. If I could use a joystick I probably would ditch  that too). 

3 - 'kramax' has several tools, like auto-level, altitude-keeping, auto-throttle, all very useful for long flights. 

Edit: and nav utilities of course.

Edited by Daniel Prates
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Progress update: Well the E42 just seems like a pain in to land with, but I am getting better: cockpit can sometimes survive the crash. Going to practice with another craft though. Other improvements include: not landing on a full tank of liquid fuel and not playing the game at 23:30 at night.

3 hours ago, Daniel Prates said:

a VOR of sorts with DME. It looks like a VOR an ADF

Could you explain what these terms mean and what they are for?

KER is good. Nuff said.

In place of 'Atmospheric Autopilot - fly-by-wire', I've used 'MouseAimFlight' by tetryds, but I am feeling the updates-crunch.

I've noticed that NavUtilities gets problems when you use quicksave. Is that a familiar issue?
I've tried MechJebs tools for this, and they sorda work (auto altitude hold, auto heading hold, auto-speed hold), but again only if you don't use quicksave. But they haven't help me land at all, as the get very wonky when precision is needed.
MechJeb2 aircraft lander will just plow into the ground, Game over.

I tried 'kramax' with the E42 and using only the defaults, hand-off landing and only the cockpit survived.
I tried another round, this time with the Gull and landing it on the island runway. More plane survived, but it was merely a good landing, far from a great one.

I am very happy using auto-pilots for landing though, I will continue to test them till I find one I like.

Edited by The-Grim-Sleeper
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@The-Grim-Sleeper, sure, let me see if I can answer it all simply and usefully. 

The nav utilities intrument is actually two instruments. A navigation tool that in real life would be a navigation radio (the VOR), and an ILS which in real life is an instrument that follows a radio beam.

The real life VOR is basically an instrument with a needle that points to a radio source you can tune into. If you chose a radio in a known location (say, in the airport you are traveling to), the needle will point to it, above a compass, so you can know in the same gauge the direction you are going and where the needle is pointing to. If is is UP, you are going exactly towards the radio source. I know, all you smarty-pants reading this, I am actually describing an ADF and not a VOR... I'll get to that later.

Check this image:

AhaCZET.png

Note above that i am flying SOUTH (this the S at the top of the compass), but the needle points to my right, backwards (310 degrees more or less). It is pointing at the direction of the airfield I chose with the white, thick needle. It is NOT the runway! It is the 'administration helipad', btw (more on that later). That, my good sir, is an AUTOMATIC DIRECTION FINDING instrument (commonly known as ADF, the radio source being called an NDB - non directional beacon). A common navigation tool up until the 1940s. Afterwards they came up with a better version of it, which would be a DIRECTIONAL beacon, that is, a LOCALIZER, which is read in the cockpit in a similar instrument called the VOR. The VOR antenna on the ground is also a kind of radio station, but it transmits different beams at each degree, so that you can not only tune in to it and follow the needle to reach it, but also choose any of 360 directions spanning from the radio tower, which is better for navigation. However the mod does not emulate that (too bad btw). So basically you have an automatic direction finder, which will always point to the place you chose. In real life it would be a radio tower, in game it doesn't matter - it's just a set location. In real life too those antennas have ranges, but in the game the instrument will work everywhere, regardless of how far you are.

The reason I say it is a VOR with dead functions, instead of an ADF, is that the instrument has info on both heading and course, which leads me to believe the modder wanted this to be a fully fledged VOR, but did not implement all the functions necessary, so you have an ADF that looks like a VOR but operates only as an ADF. 

The DME, you ask? DISTANCE MEASUREMENT EQUIPMENT. Look at the bottom left of the instrument, it says "DME 7.9". It means we are 7.9 kilometers from the radio antenna (if it existed). Note that it is a direct distance to it in a straight line, not the ground distance, so the higher you are, the farthest it will compute. 

Something else. Look at the following picture:

ftR17A5.png

What is that other box? It is the 'nav utilities' user interface. You open in with ALT+CLICK. There you can choose the runway you are focusing your instrument in. In the top of the instrument it reads "administration helipad", but you have to click "previous" and "next" to find KSC 09 or KSC 27, for the instrument to read the actual runway! otherwise your instrument will be pointing to the wrong thing. Also, in "previous G/S" and "next G/S" you can increase or decrease the ramp of the glideslope (meaning, if you wanna come shallower or higher). 

Finally, when you are close enough to the runway descent path (think of a narrow cone projecting from the runway, passing through were your descent path should be), the instrument will automatically change from the localizer needle, to the ILS instruments, like so:

bIKPFZv.png

I made the mistake of not choosing "KSC 27" so instead of the glideslope, in the bottom right, it shows a red G/S sign, warning me that the glideslope is not shown. If it were showing, it would appear right there. If it is up, you have to go down, and if its down you have to go up. In the main instrument you can see shown above the localizer. You are pointing the same way as the runway if it is pointing up, and the smaller bar in the center will show you if you are offset to the right or left. 

Lastly, for the KRAMAX autopilot. I only really use two functions of it.

First, I press THIS (in orange) to keep altitude (W and S will increase or decrease the target altitude) ...

USpb4SC.png

 

... and THIS in orange to hold my speed (Z and X will increase or decrease target speed):

8eTvIOD.png

That's basically it!

Edited by Daniel Prates
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