The first part of this guide introduced basic concepts such as Frequencies, ATIS, and Aerodrome Charts that will be used extensively in this and the following parts. Make sure you have checked it before continuing.
In order to make the radio comms flow more clear, I will use “►” when the message is coming from your aircraft (either you as pilot or usually the RIO) and “©” when the message comes from a controller (yes, I have indeed a lot of imagination..).
Why so shy? 🙂
Speaking through a mic to complete strangers saying unfamiliar things can be intimidating, we have all been there. A solution can be repeating the message out loud without holding the PTT: repeat it a few times until you feel comfortable, then do it one more time holding the PTT.
After a while you won’t need this routine anymore!
Most messages follow the following structure:
[recipient], [sender_callsign], [message]
The very first message you will usually send is the comms check in order to make sure that your in-game radio is turned on and tuned correctly to 249.500 and your microphone is working:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, radio check
Hopefully someone will come back with a confirmation such “five-by-five” or “lima-charlie” (the latter is for Loud and Clear and is more appropriate).
In this scenario our callsign is Uzi 9-2, we are departing from Gudauta and spawned on Apron 1. The ATIS reports information Zulu and the runway in use is the 1-5. Let’s take a moment to visualize the situation: get your copy of the Aerodrome Charts, whether the kneeboard, the printed version or whatever you have, and open the Gudauta airfield page. Find Apron 1, the runway and the taxiways you need to use in order to get to it. Monitor the ATC frequency while you turn on your aircraft and be aware of your surroundings (this is especially important on carrier operations).
Note: Informations are very important when flying but the concept of Situation Awareness is not confined to the skies. Take the habit of building your SA no matter where you are, this is very valuable in real life as well.
Now back to the cockpit. Our radio works and the aircraft is ready. The following step is taxiing to the active runway then depart. More controlled airfield dictate that, before releasing the parking brake and moving, we check-in with Ground, confirming that we have the latest ATIS information and requesting taxi to runway.
Since GAW uses a single frequency for ground operations and often ATC is not present, we will make the message way shorter.
If the the airfield is ummaned, we choose our route to the active.
There are different ways to get to the runway 1-5 from Apron 1 but the most direct is via Alpha. Using only one taxiway is not always the case: for instance, if you are spawned at Apron 2 and the active is 1-5, the taxiways to be used are Delta, Charlie, Alpha.
No ATC means that no one is ready to coordinate aircraft ground movement. Therefore the recipient of our radio comms is every aircraft around us (“Gudauta traffic“). We really want to make everyone around us aware of our presence, intentions and our route to the runway:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, one F-14 parked at Apron 2, taxiing to active via Alpha
This is another example of the call, just to show a different and more complex situation (made up and unrelated to Gudauta):
► Airport123 traffic, Uzi 9-2, two ship F-14 parked at Shelter 15 and 16, taxiing to runway One Three Right via Charlie and Delta
Now perform a visual check, make sure that no one else is using the taxiways you plan to use from the opposite direction (yep, sometimes happens), release the parking brake and start taxiing.
Once you get to the final meters of the taxiway, right before entering the runway, it is important to stop and look around for incoming or departing traffic. If everything is clear, announce:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, lining up runway one five
If you have to stop there, maybe because an aircraft is on final you can update your position by calling:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, holding short runway one five
By doing so the incoming or departing aircraft knows that the runway is clear and can proceed. You can also add additional details if relevant (for instance, that you are waiting for an aircraft in front of you to take the active and depart).
Once your aircraft (or multiple aircraft, in case you have or are the wingman) are lined up, last checks are completed and you are ready to go, call:
► Gudauta traffic, Uzi 9-2, rolling runway one five
If the ATC is present then the airport is manned and the comms flow is a bit different because the ATC will coordinate the aircraft movement on the ground. This is and example:
► Gudauta ground, Uzi 9-2, when available
© Uzi 9-2, Gudauta ground, go ahead
► Gudauta ground, Uzi 9-2, one F-14 parked at Apron 2 with information Zulu, requesting taxi to runway
© Uzi 9-2, Gudauta ground, taxi to runway one five via Alpha, hold short runway one five
► Gudauta ground, Uzi 9-2, taxing to runway one five via Alpha, hold short one five
► Gudauta ground, Uzi 9-2, holding short runway one five, ready for departure
© Uzi 9-2, Gudauta ground, cleared for take-off runway one five
► Gudauta ground, Uzi 9-2, cleared for take-off runway one five
This is a brief example, it doesn’t take into account Ground and Tower frequencies nor conditional clearances or additional instructions. If not clearly specified you should always hold short the runway and wait for further instructions. Stating that you have Information Zulu tells the ATC that you know the active runway in use, the current weather conditions and the pressure settings. The ATC will remind some of these parameters anyway.
Please note that the initial part of the message (recipient and sender) can be dropped if you are replying right after Ground and, if you hear that Ground is busy, asking when available is polite and it’s a good way to don’t piss off a busy controller 🙂
Lastly, note that “take-off” is never used except for the very moment in which the aircraft is about to roll.
If you are piloting a rotary-wing you are much more flexible and have different options because you can, on top of taxiing on wheels (if present), use hover taxi or air taxi. The latter is the fastest method to get to the runway but it’s also the least appreciated by FW pilots that are not aware of your manoeuvres. Airports on GAW can be restricted and spawn only RW or FW aircraft but that doesn’t exclude the possibility of other assets to land for rearming and refueling. Therefore comms maintain their importance.
Departing directly from the spawning position is possible but dangerous both due to DCS mechanics (spawning system is sometimes a bit weird) and because, in case of problems during the hover check or the take off, you might end up hitting other parked aircraft.
If you need to expedite and you don’t want to use or can’t use the active runway, you’d better find an alternative spot to conduct hover check and then depart. Even taxiing for a few meters to an actual taxiway, therefore freeing the Apron, is better than departing from the spawning position. In our case, taxiing to a taxiway such as Zulu is an even better alternative since it provides more room for positioning correctly in relation to the wind, hover checking and departing and is not used to get to the active runway. Echo is another alternative but it can impede the incoming traffic.
After departure, don’t cross the active unless is really necessary and if you do, inform traffic, spend a few seconds to make sure that no one is either departing or landing, then cross the runway.
If the ATC is present, wait for its permission.
Part III will cover a simplified check-in process to a higher-level controller and the landing.