I've only played one of them. Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies for PlayStation 2.
It's a mix between arcade flight and authentic flight simulator. So there are points you earn that can be used to buy new aircrafts, upgrade them, etc.
There's a story in between each mission that seems to be set in a fictional world similar to ours.
I remember it also had some interesting music at times that I wouldn't expect in the game.
This one playing during the final mission stuck in my mind for a long time for some reason.
Can't say I know if there's a best place to start, but the latest one seems like a good choice.