Aerial

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Screamin' Eagles!
The Soldier on sending foes to their midair death
A Soldier hits a rocket-jumping Soldier in mid-flight to prevent him from gaining any more height.

An aerial, also known as an air shot, midair, or middy, is when a player shoots or kills an enemy that is airborne. This is used as an area-denial tactic that can be utilized by almost any class to prevent enemies from gaining height, or to throw the enemy off course and make them easier targets. The knock back from this attack will deny that player any more vertical or horizontal advancement, and disrupt the opponent's flight, making them an easier target.

Aerials

Soldier

Demonstrating Soldier aerials

Due to the slow projectile speed of the Soldier's Rocket Launcher, landing accurate aerials can be difficult. Successfully hitting an airborne target requires the player to know where the enemy will be when the rocket reaches them. Because of this, in order to land an aerial as a Soldier, the player will need to have good timing, and be familiar with the projectile speed of the Rocket Launcher he/she is using.

Aerials are a crucial aspect of one of the primary weapons available to the Soldier - the Direct Hit. This alternate primary weapon mini-crits targets that have been launched into the air via explosions, enemy attacks, or grapples. The faster projectile speed of the Direct Hit, as well as that of the Liberty Launcher, is an extremely useful tool for successfully landing an aerial.

Pyro

Demonstrating a deflected rocket aerial

A Pyro can perform aerials with the compression blast. When a compression blast aerial occurs, the enemy shoots at the Pyro from the air. The Pyro redirects the projectile to intercept the enemy's flight path. It is also possible for the Pyro to reflect one projectile at an enemy on the ground, launch him into the air and reflect a second projectile into the airborne opponent.

Flare Gun aerials offer the ability to ignite enemies and perform critical hits on targets that are already burning as the enemy is hit. Since enemies will be on fire upon landing, players equipped with the Axtinguisher can follow up the Flare Gun aerial with a guaranteed critical hit. If there is any water or a Health kit nearby, your enemy will probably attempt to land on or in it.

The Reserve Shooter scores mini-crits on targets that are airborne due to any sort of knockback (e.g. not jumping), allowing Pyros to shoot blast jumping or compression blasted enemies for extra damage.

Demoman

Demonstrating a Demoman pipe aerial

The Grenade Launcher and Stickybomb Launcher both fire their respective projectiles in an arc. While the Grenade Launcher is similar to the Rocket Launcher in terms of stats and function, the arc that the projectile makes as it fires through the air can be much harder to compensate for, and can take a player time to learn the difference between the two. The grenade projectile travels at approximately 1065 Hammer units per second, and will detonate under two circumstances; either on direct contact with an enemy or after a set interval.

In contrast, the stickybomb projectile fires somewhat slowly and heavily, at 805 hammer units per second. The Stickybomb Launcher can charge projectiles, similar to the Huntsman. While the Demoman does not suffer any loss of speed during a projectile charge, the Stickybomb Launcher can only carry a projectile like that for a short while. The Stickybomb Launcher replacement, the Scottish Resistance, suffers a slightly longer prep duration for a fired projectile than the Stickybomb Launcher.

While a bit more difficult to fire in time than the grenade, it is quite possible to perform aerials with a Stickybombs by detonating them in mid-air. Stickybombs do not need to make contact with an enemy to cause damage, and have powerful knock back.

Despite their power, the Stickybomb Launcher projectile is quite slow, and a Demoman being faced with a fast-approaching enemy would be better off using their Grenade Launcher. If an enemy has closed the gap too tight, a Demoman would be better off using their melee weapon to attack, as the explosive radius from either their primary or secondary weapon would deal a lot of damage to the user as well.

Engineer

Demonstrating Engineer aerials

With the Wrangler, an Engineer is capable of utilizing the rockets from his Level 3 Sentry Gun to preform aerials. Similar to the Soldier when using the Rocket Launcher to stop airborne enemies, watch their trajectory, and wait for your enemy to begin their descent, aiming your shot to strike where they're going to land. As with any other more advanced maneuver, practice is key.

The Wrangler offers a benefit that the Rocket Launcher and Grenade Launcher lack: a laser sight to assist your aim. With the Wranglers' laser, you can always tell where your rocket will go before you fire it. Be aware that this laser is visible to the enemy as well.

Sniper

Demonstrating a Sniper Rifle aerial

The Sniper Rifle's headshot can be used for preforming aerials. Typically, one shot will prevent an enemy from closing in on a Sniper from above. An Sniper Rifle shot does 43-173 damage on a bodyshot, and 150-450 on a headshot. A single shot won't just stop their advancement, but may also cause them to retreat.

A useful technique for shooting Scouts would be to watch their jumps, and note when a Scout leaves a smoke trail behind his feet. This is a visual representation that he has used his double jump ability, and will be unable to dodge your shot unless they perform a strafe. Ready your shot for where your enemy is going to be by letting them fall into your scope instead of trying to follow them with it.

Successfully performing an aerial with the Huntsman is, however, different in that the power and arc of the arrow projectile depends on the length of time it was initially charged. This can cause slightly unpredictable projectiles, a shallow flight path, and increased power in comparison to the Sniper Rifle. A single fully-charged arrow to the mass of an enemy can be enough to kill a medium-heavy class, such as the Demoman or Pyro. If the arrow does not kill them instantly, the damage they've taken may be too much to survive upon landing from their height.

Counter

As an aerial shot is meant to put the opponent in a position in which he is unable to protect himself from incoming projectiles, learning how to counter an aerial can be crucial to surviving. Though one is able to take the damage in a way that may propel them to shelter, they will have difficulty avoiding a follow-up shot with their back to the enemy. Another tactic is to reverse your position with them by strafing your way to equal ground, and propelling your opponent in to the air with your own weapon, when using this tactic, be careful of enemy teammates around the area.

Common rules

  • The ability to consistently perform aerials is seen as an indication of proficiency with a particular class. Continual practice is key.
  • Aerials force the enemy in to a temporary immobile state. You decide where they fall and you decide how much damage they take as they fall. Since they are only capable of strafing slightly, an agile player can easily protect their self by getting away from the field of view of their enemy before they are able to try to retaliate. Though any retaliation will be difficult, as disorientation from their fall will make aiming difficult.
  • If there is a Health kit nearby, the enemy will probably try to land on it. Use this to tell where the enemy will try to go, and hit them before they get there. If there is no nearby Health kit, they will probably flee to find a Medic. If a Soldier is the enemy being targeted by an aerial attack, he will likely attempt to pull out the Equalizer and fight you with that. This can be an opportunity to easily finish them off with your primary weapon, or simply finish them off with your own melee weapon.
  • Watch their trajectory, and wait for the enemy to begin their descent, aiming the shot to strike where they're going to land. As with any other more advanced maneuver, practice is key.
  • Projectiles spawn from the barrel of the first-person weapon viewmodel, resulting in a slight horizontal offset. This means compensation is slightly more necessary for airborne enemies moving away from the viewmodel than those moving toward it.

Related achievements

Leaderboard class scout.png Scout

The Cycle
The Cycle
In a single life, kill an enemy while you are on the ground, in the air, and in the water.


Pop Fly
Pop Fly
Kill 20 players while double-jumping.


Leaderboard class soldier.png Soldier

Death From Below
Death From Below
Kill 10 opponents who are airborne with the Direct Hit.


Duty Bound
Duty Bound
While rocket jumping kill an enemy with the Equalizer before you land or just after landing.
For Whom the Shell Trolls
For Whom the Shell Trolls
Bounce an opponent into the air with a rocket and then kill them with the shotgun before they land.


Screamin' Eagle
Screamin' Eagle
Kill 20 enemies from above.

Leaderboard class pyro.png Pyro

Pilot Light
Pilot Light
Ignite a rocket-jumping Soldier while he's in midair.


Leaderboard class demoman.png Demoman

Caber Toss
Caber Toss
Bounce an enemy into the air and kill them before they land.


Double Mauled Scotch
Double Mauled Scotch
Kill 2 people in a single sticky jump.
The Scottish Play
The Scottish Play
Get a melee kill while sticky jumping.

Leaderboard class heavy.png Heavy

Marxman
Marxman
Kill 10 enemies in mid-air with the minigun.


Leaderboard class sniper.png Sniper

Dropped Dead
Dropped Dead
Kill a Scout in midair with your Sniper Rifle or the Huntsman.


Jumper Stumper
Jumper Stumper
Kill a rocket or grenade-jumping enemy in midair with your Sniper Rifle or the Huntsman.
Eagle Eye
Eagle Eye
While using The Classic, kill a rocket/grenade jumping enemy in midair with a full charge, no-scope, headshot.

See also