Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Are you sure that you have a license?

These are not words that any PPL holder wants to hear from any instructor. But unfortunately for me those are the exact words I hear from the guy in the flight suit, frowning over me and the controls.

Luckily I’m in a simulator and my excuse that the F18 I’m currently wrestling with handles a tad differently to my usual Cessna 172 seems fairly valid to me.

I think the instructor is joking……maybe.

Anyways, some context RTH and I were here, sat in reasonably lifelike F18 simulators practicing taking out some targets before we were let loose on each other in a dog fight.

The session itself was a lot of fun, you start with a quick familiarisation session in front of a standard PC, getting used to all the buttons and the general handling of the F18. I quickly realised just how much trouble I was going to be in. Even turning an F18 is all kinds of messed up. You roll until the horizon is now at 90 degrees and then yank back on the stick. A technique that Bob actively discouraged in the cockpit.

In the briefing room itself we are introduced to some advanced combat techniques (like try to keep the enemy in front of you!) and various warning noises you are likely to hear. Stall warnings, missile lock and so on.

Let’s just say I heard most of them, an awful lot.

Stalls are funky, I discovered (purely by sloppy energy management) that an F18, much like a Cessna, will start to fall out of the sky when you pull a steep turn at 50 knots.  Luckily I was at a ridiculous height when this event occurred.  You recover from a stall by afterburner-ing out of that sucker! Again, this combined with sloppy energy management mean that I flew one combat engagement purely on after burner and reached Bingo fuel in about 2 minutes.

Briefing over, we confirm our chosen call signs for this mission. RTH has gone for something relatively benign based on a forum name he uses. I’m cognisant of the fact that everyone who comes in here is probably “Maverick” or some other TopGun character. I mean I can see why and I don’t want to buck the trend or anything here. So I settle on a variation derived from a conversation about only way they could make the much hyped TopGun2 watchable.

I was indeed Zombie Goose for the duration of this mission.

So how did Zombie Goose do?

I won’t lie to you. It wasn’t pretty. RTH managed to get his first kill in while I was still figuring out how to switch my radar on.

Eventually I lost count of how many times he managed to remove me from the sky but I managed to get him a total of 3 times.

Once with missiles, one with guns and once with my wingtip. Okay so technically that last one took me out too! Oh yeah and I managed to G-LOC into the ground at one point as well. Oopsie.

I may not have been great at shooting down planes but I did manage to both shock and awe the mission controllers in other ways though.

Namely by my wide and varied use of ummm, shall we say, more colourful language.

I guess nothing changes.


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