Fighter Ops’ Rick “Rjetster” Ladomade

by Tom “20mm” Hayden



It seems like only yesterday, but in fact it was in the Spring of 2005 when we first met up with Rick Ladomade, call sign “Rjetster”, and talked about a new combat flight simulation known as Fighter Ops.

It was at the 2005 version of E3 and although we certainly did spend some time talking about what was then a very new project, we probably spent more time talking combat flight simulations in general. What makes them tick, what makes them attractive to the simulation community, what the community expects and demands and what creates such a “buzz”. It was great fun and we at SimHQ enjoyed the conversation to the point where we almost forgot our interview schedule.

Fast forward to 2006 and E3, again at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Yours truly was supposed to meet with Rick on Friday afternoon of the show, but due to a miscue on our part, it didn’t happen. Even though Rick was most gracious in accepting our apology for missing the appointment, it still sticks in my craw.

Fast forward again, to 2007 when “guod” asked me to do this interview. I was, to say the least, surprised.

“Me?” I recall saying. “You want me to do a Fighter Ops interview with Rick?”

Typical “guod”, he said something like, “Yeah. What’s the problem? You do interviews.”

I told him I knew that, but well, I was still feeling a little sheepish over the whole 2006 E3 deal. “guod’s” typical reply was, “Oh, just ask him. You’ll do fine.”

And so, here we are. Almost 3 years have gone by since our first meeting with Rick and some early insight into what Fighter Ops would be like. Today, you can go to their web site and read all about it, see where they are and where they plan to be.

In the course of this interview, I would like to give you all an inside glimpse to one of the most ambitious simulation projects I have ever laid eyes on.

Ambitious? Why draw that conclusion?

Well, for starters, and to quote from the Features part of the web site, “Fighter Ops® is the definitive ‘Next Generation in Flight Sim Technology’ modern day military flight simulation catered explicitly to the requirements of the flight sim community.” Whoa! I thought, right there is a pretty bold statement.

I know the combat flight simulation community, and they are some of the hardest to please people on this or any other planet. It’s true, and you flight simmers know it! And that’s just a tiny piece of the ambitious project puzzle as you’ll see when I ask Rick more about this aspect.

For the moment, let me just outline that Fighter Ops (or “FO”), expects to have spherical world terrain, SpeedTree® technology, highly-detailed 3D functional cockpits, special audio effects and sounds (many of which will be actual recordings), multi-monitor support, over 22,000 airports modeled with their correct VOR & ILS, realistic ATC, FAC, AWACS, a dynamic campaign, DX10 high resolution graphics, simulated electrical, hydraulic and other aircraft failures, a realistic recreation of the USAF UPT and IFF pilot training curriculums, multiplayer function featuring co-op and head-to-head, detailed manuals, and yes… more.

Mind boggling? That it is; and now you have a bit of a grasp if you didn’t before, why this project is so eagerly anticipated.

With no further ado, let’s talk with Rick.

Early morning sunrise shot.

An early morning work-in-progress sunrise shot.
Fighter Ops features very detailed terrain surfaces and unprecedented terrain texturing.
Note: The terrain is bare without ground cover and trees at this point.
Download the full-sized image.

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