Yankee Air Pirate Page 4

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What It’s Like

If you have WOV, you already know what YAP is like. Sorta. It’s similar to WOV, only much more so. All those new objects add up to a lot of eye candy. There are gorgeous temples and pagodas in nearly every town, and the citadel in Hue was so beautifully done, I almost felt guilty dropping two cans of nape on it. As pilots, we spend our ground time at the airfields, and there’s plenty to see there, too. There are static aircraft parked all over, including adjacent revetments. And there are jeeps and trucks whizzing everywhere. It’s a good stab at making the airport environment come alive.

The gameplay I can only explain by giving examples. On a Thud mission I had to stooge around over Hanoi hunting for my target. I noticed that I seemed to be the center of attention — it felt like everyone was shooting at me. How typical, I thought. Then I paused the game and looked at what was going on with the rest of the strike group. Was I ever wrong! I found out it wasn’t just me. They were all getting the tar beat out of them. That’s some nice mission building there, boys.

On another Thud mission downtown the weather was low and visability poor. I was hauling a centerline double TER with Mk 117s on it. Coming off the target on one particularly low pass, I realized my airplane wasn’t producing enough “Up” to overcome the huge load of “Down” I was carrying. I got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that all pilots get when they realize they’ve let the airplane get away from them and they’re suddenly just a passenger. What happened now would be determined by a combination of physics and luck, and there was very little I could do to influence the outcome. I did the best I could, near as I could guess, holding the best attitude, trying to coax the wing to keep flying, right on the ragged edge, all the while knowing I wasn’t gonna make it. Sure enough, I slammed into the top of a building with a CRUMPF! that I swear I could feel all the way up my spine. I knew I was dead. But three seconds later, the airplane was still flying, and even trying to climb. I egressed the target and switched to an outside view once clear. The TER and the last bomb I was still carrying were gone, torn clean off the airplane, along with the exhaust nozzle/speed brake assembly. But the airplane was flying well, so I carefully, gratefully nursed it home.

On the way downtown. On a SAM launch call, my wingie went high and I broke low.  Here I’m pitching over after having just crested a low hill. That’s Thud Ridge in the background.

On another flight I was leading an A-4 fourship. Approaching the target area I ordered the rest of the flight to attack the targets, then settled down to work them myself. It got fairly intense, but I made it through. As I turned for home, I thought well, that was sporty, but not too bad. I called for the rest of the flight to form up — and got no answer. All three had been bagged. We all went through the same gauntlet, and I came away thinking it was not that bad, while they all bought it. Can you imagine what it must be like to have that happen in real life? Neither can I, really. You obviously can’t without living it. But like to think I have at least an inkling.

On another mission I had taken out all the targets along a valley and was down to trying to pick off a big AA gun up at the top of a ridge. After four or five passes with no visible effect I suddenly realized that the mission had been reduced to a one-on-one slugfest, just me and the gun, and that whether I knew it or not it was a fight to the death. Then I remembered reading the axiom that when pilots let it get personal, they get themselves killed. I took that mental step back, refocused on the job at hand, and got the gun on the next pass. When have you had that kind of experience in a flight sim?

Cynics will ask, how much of all that is YAP, and how much is WOV? Obviously the flight engine and physical universe is straight WOV. But in each case, it was all the components of the add-on, the objects, the mission design, the emersion of the flight that put me in a position to experience that universe. WOV provides the world for YAP to exist in, and YAP brings out the best of WOV.

My favorite of this screenshot collection. The ack ack marks very clearly my path toward the target. I walked a pair of Snakeyes onto a train; the big compression doughnut is from the primary target, a tank car, going up. You can see all that remains of the consist, a steam loco, on the left edge of the fireball. I made three more passes (one Snake and two 20mm) but never did get that damned engine.

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