|Screenshot from IL-2 Sturmovik|
Now I don't rush right out and buy every flight sim as soon as it comes out. There are a number I wish I'd bought at the time. Such as F-16 Falcon. I did get to play around with this one day. One of my wife's brother-in-laws had a copy. I discovered that one cannot just jump into the cockpit (a real one or a simulated one) and enjoy it. Ya need to do some familiarization first.
That's another way of saying that F-16 Falcon and I didn't get along all that well. Of course, when one is used to simulated propeller aircraft and then climbs into a simulated jet, I imagine it's similar to what happens in real life. Let's just say that I was "behind" the aircraft all the way. Kept running into things that were not healthy for my simulated steed. Control inputs would occur long after they should have been made.
One of the first flight sims I ever purchased was actually brought home from the store before I actually bought a computer. It was Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer from Electronic Arts. (Warning, shameless plug: EA is one of the best software companies on the planet. I'm not just saying that because the Naviguesser works there and he gets me lots of cool free/inexpensive games. They truly produce a fine product.)
Of course, buying software before buying a computer is rather akin to buying a paddle before one buys a canoe. (Not sure why I picked that example, perhaps it's my inner Canadian trying to get out, eh?) But I knew that I was going to buy a computer and back then you pretty much had two choices: IBM PC or a Mac. (This was in the 90's.) Not being independently wealthy, it would be an IBM PC for me. Also back then there was only one operating system. So as long as I bought software designed for the PC, I was golden.
So about a month after buying the software, I bought a computer. Paddle, meet canoe. Canoe, paddle. Eh.
I was hooked. Now this flight "trainer" was very primitive. Wire frame models and geometric shapes for terrain. But it felt like I was behind the controls of an aircraft. That was the key thing. I could "fly" without actually getting a pilot's license. Which leads me to the next part of the story.
Now at one time I wrote a post (here) which referenced the fervent desire of my youth to be a fighter pilot, a jagdflieger, a pilote de chasse. But such was not to be due to my very weak eyesight.
Okay, but I can still get my pilot's license. So I figured that one day, when I was more settled and had a steady job, I would get that ticket to dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings and top the windswept heights. (See High Flight for the rest of that most lovely poem!)
So Korea, 1978. I am a newlywed, I have just arrived at my latest posting and planned on staying there for a long time (turned out to be almost four years, which is a long time in the military). I have reached the lofty rank of Staff Sergeant (E-5 in the USAF) and the base has a flying club. Things look prime to go out and get that pilot's license. (Insert screeching halt noises here...)
Seems that my newly acquired spousal unit and the love of my life thinks that flying is dangerous. No husband of hers will be allowed behind the controls of a flying machine. Not now, not ever.
I was young, I was in love. I was somewhat nonplussed at the "no flying for you" rule which had just been introduced into our new household but I figured that someday the Missus would lift her ban on my dream of flight.
This has not happened yet. We have been married for 35 years (this month) and there has been no easing of the Missus's ban on allowing me to learn to fly. So flight sims, they're all I've got.
I did, at one point in time, point out to the Missus, "Hey, our youngest daughter gets to fly in the back seat of the Super Hornet! All I want to do is learn how to fly a little, propeller driven airplane. Why can't I? Huh? Please...." (If that sounds suspiciously like whining, it was. Not proud of it but there it is.)
Her answer, "Our daughter is now a grown woman. She has made her career choice. I don't like it but I have no control over her anymore. She is, after all, a Naval Officer and an adult. YOU on the other hand are my husband. YOU I control. YOU will do as YOU are told."
Being a good lad, I knuckled my forehead, said "Yes, Ma'am. Your every wish is my command" and got on with my life. (And I only grumbled a wee bit. Mind you, it was once the Missus was well out of hearing.)
Ah, well. I'm content with my lot in life. Flight sims are far cheaper than the alternative. But still, there are days when I look to the sky and get all wistful.
Then again, things could be worse, eh?