This leads me on to another core principle that has saved me a huge amount of time over my career - the 80/20 or 'Pareto' Principle.
'The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes' - Wiki
So, why are some of the best air combat pilots also the laziest? Remember the 80/20 Principle and the 90% solution that we just heard about - well, some jet pilots are just pretty good at applying those two techniques. You see, to get from the top 10% of high performing people to the top 1% actually requires little extra effort. This is because those in the top 10% become extremely comfortable and are happy to stay in the top 10%. If you want to get into the top 1% you have to 'stretch' yourself and 'stretching' just isn't very 'comfortable'. What the best air combat pilots realise is that sometimes it is easy to get stuck in 'analysis paralysis' or 'trapped in lag' to use some fighter pilot jargon. When you analyse too much you can get bogged down - you start looking at, and investing your time in, the minutiae. So what the best pilots do is look for the 20% of what they do that will give them 80% of the return. Incidentally, on my aircraft in 1v1 air combat the 20% that gets me 80% of the results is the following:
- Fly the correct speed for the rate and radius fights and stick to them (don't be greedy with angles and don't bleed speed needlessly)
- Don't let the Combat Flap travel in from poor speed control (it will schedule in above 340 kts and the loss in my turn rate will be significant)
- Don't lose 'tally' (sight of the other aircraft) - (obviously you can't fight what you can't see)
- YOU Dictate the fight at the merge
- Be boring?!!?
Be boring, what? Ok, let's just try and remember the Iceman quote in Top Gun - it was there for a reason.
'You wanted to know who the best is? That's him. Iceman. He flies ice-cold. No mistakes - Wears you down. You get bored, do something stupid, and he's got you.' - Top Gun, 1986
'The 'control zone' is a cone-shaped area behind an aircraft where the attacker will have both sufficient time and separation to react to the defending aircraft's manoeuvres'
Sometimes a little deception also goes a long way for a fighter pilot when they combine it with the Pareto principle and work to the 90% Solution. The German WWI flying ace Manfred Von Richtofen or the 'Red Baron' was not the most talented pilot in his air force but he worked out his '20%' that allowed him to chalk up 80 confirmed kills. Unlike his younger brother, Lothar (40 kills), Manfred refrained from using risky or aggressive tactics but would dive out of the sun and, with his squadron mates protecting his 6 o'clock, shoot down the enemy aircraft before making his escape. He would employ a set of rules that had been crafted and distilled down from the experience of his friend and pilot mentor Oswald Boelcke called the 'Dicta Boelcke'. In the same way that I have some simple rules to fall back on, the 'Dicta Boelcke' gave 8 tactics that should be followed in order to achieve success in any aerial engagement. These rules were the 20% of causes that gave 80% of the effects or the Pareto Principle applied to First World War air combat.
'You should always try to keep your eye on your opponent, and never let yourself be deceived by ruses' - Rule 4 of the 'Dicta Boelcke'
Take care, Warriors.