Hi TexasThunder and welcome to the forums. To (try and) answer your questions...
When double clicking on the LB2 Icon the game starts out on a battlefield with tanks approaching.
* You should go to the base screen where you can select your pilot and game type, etc. This sounds to me like you're playing the demo!
Is there not a way to start it with the helicopter on the base?
* See above.
I dont have a Joystick yet, so how do I set the controls for a laptop?
* If and when you start the game and get onto the base screen, press Alt-O and you will go to the options menu, from there you can set controls. If indeed you are playing the demo, again press Alt-O in-game to bring up the options menu. Beware that on my Windows 7 PC, I have to reconfigure controls every time I enter a new mission - this might just be a problem isolated to me though.
Last question, I found a site that has the operations manual in PDF, but is there a site that has a zipped copy ??
* Why do you want a zipped copy? Can't you just download the PDF?