I can't disentangle my memory of the IL-2 games with the fact that it was nearly always my brother playing it, not me. He was the true pilot of the family, completing all the missions, bombing all the airbases, keeping track of fuel reserves. Whenever I played the game myself, I'd always do exactly the same thing: create a custom scenario with a single Ace-level AI enemy, and me in my favourite plane (the IL-2 1941 field mod - the least likely to stall whenever I pulled off one of my very aircraft-unfriendly manoeuvres). May the best pilot win.
It's been a very long time since the 2003 release of IL-2 Sturmovik: Forgotten Battles, which was the game we played the most in the series. Now everyone's off playing their War Thunders and their... I don't know what else they're playing. But I still remember the good old days of trying to land a burning plane with the game set to quadruple-speed, or tearing off your gears because you forgot to retract them after takeoff. Or accidentally hitting the wrong button out of the dozens you're meant to have memorised, and cutting your engine mid-dogfight.
One of the best things we ever did was separate out the controls between two or three of us, with my brother calling out directions on what to do next, and everyone else ignoring those instructions and doing their own thing entirely. Hilarity nearly always ensued as we all tried to deflect blame from ourselves while our plane nosedived irrevocably into the sea. Good times were had.