AIThe AI in the game actually gives "stick and rudder" commands to each of the planes it controls. You can see the ailerons, elevators, and rudders move realistically.
Extras1942: The Pacific Space War comes with a Pilot Handbook which, in turn, contains a magnificent historical overview of World War II.
GameplayTechnically, it is NOT necessary for you to fly the planes personally. The game has a full strategic engine that can simulate all conflicts. You could just click on the carrier(s) and issue orders like arm for strike and things like that.
Information also contributed by Kasey Chang