Cold & Dark

A new Mudspike article published at:

Bringing an aircraft to life from its slumber is one of the coolest aspects of being a flight simmer. In this article, we take a look at one of my favorite sim indulgences: The Nescient Cold & Dark Endeavor™. Time to spare…go by air… One of the aspects of our flight sim hobby that seems…


What a wonderful tribute to the cold cockpit!

I do find starting an aircraft enjoyable, still looking for a good way to have an external checklist without having to alt-tab all the time. I also have a habit of watching the engine gauges pretty viciously, although I suppose I am still waiting on the day that DCS Modules will have random failures on start-up.

1 Like

I cannot, and it’s frustrating! I guess there are gameplay considerations at hand for DCS (Sorry guys, gotta sit out of this mission while I go through diagnostics to see if we need to ground this bird), but you can make a pretty solid argument that being able to take for granted that your hydraulics, temps, etc are going to be beautifully within nominal conditions every time can be a real immersion-breaker.

Pretty sure that half of the F-16C start-up checklist gets thrown out the window in Falcon! “Flight control system bit test? Pfft. Why? This thing was assembled seconds ago by perfect android craftsmen!”

Great article!


Thanks! Yeah…the concessions we give in the name of entertainment software are there, and I’m all for them (I don’t want to sit through a 45 minute start and checks procedure every time I start up the A-10 or Ka-50), and I only point them out because it is a huge component that is ignored for the sake of entertainment.

The bit test you mention is a great example. In real life, I had a first officer skip the “bit test” on our Ultra once…which entails pressing and holding a button while the displays go through a self test for about 45 seconds. Had he done it, he would have found that the autopilot was not functioning because maintenance had swapped the IACs (Integrated Air Computers) from left to right to do some testing, and never switched them back. Well, IAC2 does not have autopilot outputs, so we had to fly all day without the autopilot. LOL…guess who got the longest legs? :smiley:


I love the cold and dark starts in the more complicated DCS aircraft…

…however I have to admit that certain aspects that @BeachAV8R and @AeroMechanical mention above, the “start limitations with regards to time and ITT”, I conveniently ignore or, more accurately, pretend that don’t exist. I try to do them, if I have a checklist in front of me that reminds me what the values are or how long I should wait for something, but from memory? Nope.


When I’m simming - I ignore them too. I mean, it is supposed to be unwind time for me. But in the real aircraft I fly…you can bet I’m watching the ITT throughout the whole start procedure, looking for fuel flow, oil pressure, and that the starter/gen cuts out at the right time. Just too many $$$$ on the line to not pay attention at that critical time.

And all of the aircraft I fly have starter and battery limitations on starts. For example, the Ultra starter is limited to 3 battery starts per 30 minutes with 90 seconds of rest between attempts. If you use a GPU (which puts out more power and heats the starter more) you are limited to 2 starts per 30 minutes with 90 seconds between attempts. The battery (if it is NiCad) itself is limited to 3 starts per hour with a starter/gen assist start only counting toward 1/3 of a battery start.

First engine start = 1 BAT start
Second engine start = 1/3 BAT start

It would be really cool if more modules would model things like wind up the tailpipe hot starts and other things that can break the airplane. :smiley:

I always have a chuckle when cold starting the A-10C, thinking about @EinsteinEP cringing and groaning as I read off my start-up sequence. 'Hmmm, let’s see, I’ll just switch all these things on while waiting for the APU to spin up… CICU, JTRS, IFFCC, CDU x2, Position Lights & Anti-Collision, THEN the APU Gen" :nerd::anger_right:

Beach, I completely agree. Cold/Dark Starts of a complex aircraft are a fascinating puzzle and I take a great deal of pleasure in mastering it before I even go flying. It’s a shame that many complex aircraft packages for sims don’t give enough helpful detail to accomplish the cold/dark startup (Carenado? hello?). Luckily, I can almost always find salvation in a Youtube video by someone who’s happy to give fat-fingered morons like myself a hand up… Brian L.

Aside from the experimentation, i don’t like starting a game with a “hot” aircraft.

As in a real plane, i find that a cold and dark start in a sim makes my brain tick the same way.

Each part of the set up makes me think about problem solving in different areas. Set up fmgc in the bus and entering departure makes me think about threats/modifications encountered on the departure. Setting up abris on the shark makes me think about threats ingressing and egressing from target.

Some items i look at or flip a switch or press a button on makes me have a secondary thought to contingencies or what ifs in real life and in game. And its that extra bit off added brain usage that i find helpful and fun flying cold and dark on a sim.

There’s just no reason to do the full procedures in most sims. The light bulbs are never burnt out, you’re not gonna get a hot start, and your radar will always pass the BIT.

I love doing cold starts but I’ll skip all the tests and BITs unless they’re actually needed for that system to function.



I wondered what this plane is?
I love spending ages flipping switches, but I’ve been known to be too tired to fly by the time i’m ready after a days work.


Mostly, folks who do the full procedures in these are just doing it for the lolz. I know I am, but, just like you mentioned, when I know there’s zero possibility of a failure, it kinda kills the motivation to go through an extra 5 minutes of testing. I’d love to see a “random start up failures” flag where you have to troubleshoot a FLCS failure, or weapon init, or EEG failure, or something similar, but I also recognize that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

That’s Ramzzess Beriev Be-200 RR

Fun, quirky aircraft…

1 Like

I would also consider the converse. (bear in mind I’m talking about combat flight sims here)

My impression is that if you encounter a BIT failure in the start up procedure of a system in a combat jet, you turn it off and turn it back on again. If it fails again one of two things happens.

  1. That jet is not flying today
  2. That jet is not flying with that system today.

A system failure isn’t really something that gets fixed by the pilot, at least not on the ground. The systems are designed in such a way that there aren’t that many NASA SCE to AUX moments where the problem is resolved by the crewman in the cockpit. If it’s failing, it has to be pulled and swapped out by the ground crew, and how long that takes depends on the system, but is at the very least going to take 15-20 minutes. In this time either you’re sitting and waiting, you’re hopping in another jet, or you’re just not flying today. Based on feedback from the April fly in, I’m informed none of those are fun gameplay :wink:

The other option is that you’re just not using that system. Which can be interesting.

I think that’s the more tantalizing option, but where exactly that comes into play is important- it could be walking a very fine line between making things interesting and making them supremely annoying with little benefit.

On one hand- that instance Saturday (in That Other Sim) where you had a TGP issue and one of us (@Tyco) had to buddy laze- well, that can lead to some fun stuff. 11-F16 has a bunch of interesting little snippets for things like trailing a wingman during a loft and timing your release based on his (allows you to loft without any CCRP computations) that could come into play. If it’s adding to the depth and variety of experiences in the sim, great!

…On the other hand, say you only have time to do a quick scramble mission and you’ve just been hankering for some brutal BVR combat. You boot up the sim, hop in the jet, and start running through your quick-start checklist when… FCR failure. Not ideal.

*Awaits “gentle” reminder that Leatherneck is planning on implementing random system failures in the F-14 since working with what you had was such a central element to being on a Tomcat crew *