|Falcon 4.0 Flight Model
by Christopher "Bones" Bonner and Michael "Spooky" Scott
In previous discussions we have talked about the WAR, the Game Play, the Graphics, and now it is time for a discussion on the FM: flight model.
Many controversies have arisen over the years in the flight sim community about what defines a "REAL" flight Model. I remember message board erupting in arguments over SSI's Su-27 Flanker. Pilots that flew the sim, knew it had the most realistic flight model of any simulation every produced for the PC. It just felt right.
Critics fired back with comments like, how do you know that Flanker's flight Model is Real? Have you ever flown an Su27?. Hell, have you ever flown a fighter jet before? The feeling of some in the sim community is this: unless you wear NOMEX and turn fuel to noise you don't have a clue about what's real.
In the last year pilots have EXCEPTED and/or chosen to ignore bad flight models due to the lack of anything better. Sim developers used terms like definitive to mask the fact that their sims miss the crucial requirement that the flight model represents the jet simulated and not something you see in an "X-file."
So I set out on a quest.. to learn all I could about how the real F-16 flies. My research landed me into the cockpit of the F-16 Unit Training Device (UTD).
This essay will describe to you how I KNOW that the F-16 modeled in Falcon 4.0 Flys like the Real F-16. In this article Michael "Spooky" Scott and myself, Christopher "Bones" Bonner, will share with you our experiences about the pilot workload needed to fly and operate the systems in the F-16 and how it transfers exactly to the cockpit workload in Falcon 4.0.
Background and Research:
I have been lucky.. very lucky. I have received my F-16 Training and academics from a real F-16 Pilots, My tool: a Real F-16 flight simulator know as the F-16 Unit Training Device (UTD). My Instructor: Lt.Col Pete "Boomer" Bonanni.
Over the past year, since day one of the UTD being installed at the base. I have been learning the "How To's" in the F-16.. I have learned its Unclassified Systems, Weapons, and Tactics. I have learned the F-16 Flight Dynamics and Characteristics. I practiced what I learn about the Real F-16 in Falcon 4.0. With this knowledge I Have become a better pilot in Falcon and vice versa, I have become a better pilot in the F-16 UTD.
See, you don't have to pretend to do things "Realistically" in Falcon 4, you have to! Mike and I will share with you our latest training session with Lt. Colonels Pete "Boomer" Bonanni, Bill "Bro" Martin and Don Everett (sorry We don't know Don's callsign). All members of the Virginia Air National Guard, 149th FS .
First let me start with this unambiguous syllogism:
Its Damn amazing I must say!!..
By Michael "Spooky" Scott Member 808th CFW
To say that I was a little apprehensive strapping in to the Unit Training Device (UTD) of the Virginia Air National Guard would be an understatement. After all, the closest I had ever been to an F-16 cockpit was Falcon 4 and a folding chair with a Thrustmaster mounted on the side. We’ve all heard how close F4 is to the real jet, but the voice in the back of my head was definitely whispering "here is a computer geek ready to get in way over his head".
My Instructor Pilot that night was Lt. Col. Don Everett. After configuring my jet with a couple of Maverick missiles and removing any classified weapons that I was not allowed to see, Don announced that we were ready to go. With a full load of fuel and those heavy Mavericks, a full burner takeoff was required. Cool! I pushed the throttle to full mil, lifted the handle and shoved it into afterburner.
At 160 kts, I pulled back on the stick and smoothly left the runway and raised the gear handle. I was really surprised at just how much force has to be applied to the stick to get the jet to respond. My Thrustmaster is all wrist, the real thing takes a lot more effort.
I climbed to 6000 feet, came out of burner at 300 kts. And turned left to my first steerpoint, a little town 13 miles at 11:00. I have to say that while the graphics on the UTD are excellent,they are no match for F4. I guess all that processing horsepower is put into flight and systems modeling leaving the eye candy for Microprose. Besides, the guys that regularly fly this thing get to turn around and hop in the real thing and experience the ‘real’ eye candy.
Don advised that my target today was a SAM site about 8 miles past the town. Mercifully, he had removed the SAM site’s weapons so I could at least have a sporting chance at getting off a Maverick shot. At this point Lt. Col. Pete "Boomer" Bonnani arrived to take up the instruction. I worked my way around behind a nearby ridge of mountains to mask my jet as I made my run in. As I approached the site, I got the ground radar into "snowplow" mode and began slewing the Maverick optics to find the target.
The workload in getting set up to shoot a Maverick is incredible. I was about to have a "helmet fire" trying to keep all of the instructions straight. The best part though is it’s almost EXACTLY like Falcon4 (I knew I should have done a better job of learning the manual).
Once I found the target with the Maverick optics on the right MFD, I designated it, locked it up and launched the Maverick. Like a great home run hitter, I sat there admiring the McGwire-esque clout. Luckily, Lt.Col. Bonnani snapped me back to reality by advising that I still had missiles and there were still targets alive. I chose a second target, locked it up and let another Maverick fly. Two kills on one pass. The instructors were duely impressed.
The bottom line is that F4 IS like the real jet. I WAS able to take my experience with F4 and apply it to flying the real sim (LEARN THE MANUAL!). Now if we can only get Thrustmaster to build a fully functioning cockpit with 8 foot screen.
Go to Part II.
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Last Updated December 5th, 1998