An ESF Training Schedule

It’s no secret that becoming a better pilot requires practice. But how does one practice effectively? Leonard has compiled an ESF training program with a variety of exercises to provide a starting point.

CONTENT BELOW FOR Icon_Mosquito Icon_Reaver Icon_Scythe

“Willing is not enough, we must do,” a wise man once said. Merely wanting to become better at piloting ESF isn’t enough. Actual flying sessions in your ESF are as important as having a specific goal in mind when training.

What aspect of my flying do I want to improve upon, and how can I best accomplish that?

The following training program provides you with a variety of maneuvering and shooting exercises and ideas how to hone specific piloting skills.

VR Training

The VR Training area in PlanetSide 2 is the perfect place to get the basics down or to get really experimental since you can spawn an infinite amount of ESFs or die ad infinitum without any penalty whatsoever. With a plethora of rock formations and structures scattered around the map, these training grounds provide you with a useful obstacle course as well.


  • Fly the obstacle course at top speed while maintaining an extremely low altitude
  • Snipe targets (including smaller ones, like infantry) from maximum render distance
  • Chase other friendly aircraft and try to keep at their six while firing (aka mock dogfights)

Reverse-Thrust Maneuvering

  • Do some rock-hugging (circle rock formations very closely with the Banking Turn)
  • Land a whole clip on an assigned ground target of your choice while banking or reverse-thrusting
  • Practice reverse-thrusting in first-person view alot (!)
  • Enter tight passages in rock formations and exit them with the Barrel Roll Turn
  • Train to use reverse-thrusting defensively, especially while reloading your main gun, to reposition your aircraft during dogfighting and to evade enemy fire
  • Practice masking your turn behind structures and rock spires for a safer transitioning into reverse-thrusting

Circus Maneuvers

  • Repair your aircraft midair (Roll + Exit Aircraft + Enter Vehicle)
  • Fire the flare gun midair  (Roll + Exit Aircraft + Enter Vehicle)
  • Fire a rocket launcher midair at a target as Heavy Assault (Roll + Exit Aircraft + Enter Vehicle)
  • Do the “Bug” on precipices in one fluent motion and without taking damage (Descend + Pitch Down)


  • Try out the different airframes and find one that suits your play style best before spending your hard-earned certs on one you may not end up liking
  • Try out new loadout compositions (air-to-ground, balanced, air-to-air)
  • Try out new keybindings that help you fly better
  • Create a dummy character for one of the other empires and pilot their ESF to your heart’s content to get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy firsthand

Air Squad

An air squad is composed of at least two pilots. Gameplay in an air squad differs fundamentally from playing solo. Keep in mind that with backup at your six the overall difficulty level of fighting in the air decreases significantly for oneself. This may be the perfect flying mode for beginners.


  • Form up with a wingman and try to stick together as a team
  • Prioritize targets (ESFs over Libs over Galaxys) and team up on them
  • Learn from watching your squad members dogfight if they’re better than you or start teaching tricks and incite ESF-related discussions if you have relevant knowledge to share
  • Ask your squad mates for advice (be specific) and for feedback in regard to your flying


  • Exercise a concise contact report protocol as communication standard for the entire squad, such as “Contact! Mosi, low!” or “Help! Scythe on my six, over biolab, high!”
  • Reorganize the squad into a platoon but keep the squad size to 1-3 members only in order to make use of the different squad colors to better identify the pilots of your squad on the map and minimap and to better coordinate with one another
  • Try out different aircraft compositions and loadouts for the squad or platoon (e.g. 3 ESF plus 1 Lib; 2 A2G ESF plus 1 A2A ESF)


Soloing a continent is very unforgiving. There is no safety net in place except, perhaps, when your opponent shows unexpected mercy in your crying for help. I find this mode also the type of flying where you grow the most as a pilot.

  • Explore the continent, learn its the peculiarities and key locations
  • Learn how to read the map with the Enemy Activity filter on to mentally mark out hot and safe zones and where you should and shouldn’t be (see here)
  • Get to know your limitations and that of your aircraft
  • Practice your decision-making skills and adapt to the situation at hand (i.e., Should I engage or not engage in this situation?)
  • Find active enemy flak and stay within its range while evading hits using defensive reverse-thrust maneuvering (Playing with Flak)
  • Snipe drop-pods from maximum altitude
  • Snipe infantry with Thermal Vision
  • Practice defensive reverse-thrusting in 1v1s
  • Operate over TR territory as non-TR without using Decoy Flares (use Fire Suppression instead)
  • Ask good pilots who shot you down for feedback (don’t be shy)
  • Don’t be scared to mix up loadouts and equipped perks here and then if you feel something is amiss

How do you like to sharpen your flying skills?

— Leonard


3 thoughts on “An ESF Training Schedule

  1. Fly as often as possible. Only way to get hone your skills is simply flying enough that the flying part becomes second nature to you, then your brainpower can be directed at aiming/out-maneuvering.

  2. Great site, thanks for the tips, I’m just starting to fly and as Drgonaut says, fly as often as possible, I have gotten better doing this, although have lost a lot of ESF, the only way is to practice, you start to see how moves come-in naturally when, before, you had to really think about them. watch some videos on youtube, they explain very well some maneuvers too.
    good luck flying.

  3. New, very bad pilot here. Love your guides. Going to start using your training methods immediately. Thank you for this!

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