PC Pilot

The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith


Fiendishly Complex; Militarily Correct

General Dynamics F-16 Falcon

What Flight Simulator is to civilian aviation, Falcon is to military aviation; that is, the most authentic, detailed, comprehensive simulation of the archetypal aircraft of its class (the Cessna 182 and the General Dynamics F-16 Falcon, respectively), of the environment for which each was designed (general aviation for the Cessna; air combat for the F-16), and of the pilot's interface with the aircraft (i.e., how you fly the darn thing).

Falcon is militarily "correct" to an extraordinary degree. That is, other than the immediate gratification "Instant Action" mode for those of use who congenitally question authority, your assignment here, just as in the military, is not to kill your enemies, win the war, or make the world safe for democracy, it is to follow orders.

And there are plenty of orders to follow. In the "Campaign" mode, you are subjected to an ego-shriveling dose of basic training—in this case, at Nellis Air Force Base, which occupies a vast chunk of Nevada northwest of Las Vegas. At Nellis, home of the famous Red Flag exercises (the Air Force's equivalent of the Navy's Top Gun shooters' school), you join a squadron, learn stuff like BFM (Basic Fighter Maneuvers, i.e., how to dogfight), teamwork, leadership, and—you guessed it—how to follow orders.

When you're ready for combat, your unit ships out to Kuwait, Israel, or Panama (in release 3.0 of the game; with the "Operation: Fighting Tiger" mission disk you have the additional choices of Pakistan, Korea, or Japan's Kurile Islands; and with the "F/A-18 Hornet" add-on, you get Bosnia). Sorry, but you're still not at liberty to shoot off into the wild blue yonder and start hammering MiGs. Squadron management (that's you) demands—among other things—that you give your wingmen (okay, wingpersons) enough time off that they don't suffer unduly from fatigue, and make certain that all your pilots are briefed on the day's approved formation (staggered wedge, ladder, V-stack, reverse chevron, for example).

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