It has been a long, long time since I fired up the A-10C, so I thought it would be a fun exercise to go through the training campaigns that I purchased in the last DCS World sale.
For these AARs, I'll be using the payware Maple Flag Missions DLC campaigns:
Though I'd love to see these types of campaigns based in NTTR, these were specifically made for the Caucasus. It will be nice to get back into the A-10C and see what I remember.
Prior to starting the first mission in the BFT campaign, I availed myself of the included Interactive Startup Trainer - Tester mission which is a fantastic tool to get new and experienced A-10C pilots back into the groove. During the startup procedure, the Instructor Pilot (IP) will call out items on a Scramble Startup Checklist. You have ten seconds to find and enable the item - if you don't, the IP will show you where the switch or system is, and your score will suffer a deduction.
I had intended to fly this whole campaign in VR, however the VR screens don't really adequately capture at a resolution good for sharing, so I'm taking one for the team and flying in normal 2D mode. Hoping back into the cockpit was really cool and, as always, I'm amazed that we have this unbelievable A-10C simulation as entertainment software.
I go through the interactive startup - and manage to score an 86% - some of the switches eluded my recollection (TISL knob and a couple others). Thankfully, once I missed them, the orange arrows pointed me toward their location to refresh my memory.
With the Startup Trainer Tutorial complete, I moved on to the Basic Flight Training curriculum. Consisting of twelve missions, the BFT campaign will rate your performance in the following areas:
- General knowledge, airmanship and safety.
- Pre-takeoff, and takeoff.
- Navigation and maneuvers.
- Approach, landing and after landing.
- Communications and task prioritization.
Each mission has a non-rated "practice" mission that mirrors the structure of the rated missions - but I will only be demonstrating the rated missions. The campaign starts with a nice mission where you just listen to the overview of the campaign, with details about what will be expected, the curriculum, and some nice maps and detailed information.
BFT-01 - Ground Handling
BFT-01 will test our knowledge of thoroughness of completing the startup checklist, take us on a short taxi route around the airfield, and test us on our shutdown procedure. These tests can be brutally unforgiving in that if you miss just a single item, you will be deemed unqualified. It is a very (very) good idea to print out the briefing to make sure that you have accomplished all of the tasks that are expected of you.
The 15-minute window to bring the A-10C to life is generous, and if you would rather not wait on the rating of your start procedure and continuation of the mission, you can let your IP know that you have finished early.
Hopefully, you have hit all the right switches and initialized the systems properly. If so, you will sequence to the next phase of the mission - if not, you'll be forced to try the whole thing again.
Next you'll be tasked to follow the HUMVEE as he makes a circuit of the airfield. Taxi speed and distance is important, and the instructor will let you know if you are out of position. Portions of the route will take you in and among obstacles, so keep an eye on your wingtips to make sure you don't accidentally run into anything.
The mission unfolds at a nice pace with well done triggers and voice-overs. While some might be bored with the execution of what might be perceived as a simplistic challenge, the missions can be quite hard to perfect. The pass/fail criteria can be somewhat frustrating if you only miss a single item, but you're an A-10C pilot not a snowflake right?!!
And not all screw ups are disqualifying - some just earn you a gentle admonition...
Once back on the ramp, the shut-down time window I feel is a bit too rushed. For a mission where the penalty for missing something is so severe, I would have perhaps liked to have had maybe five minutes.
Oh drat..! Forgetting the EAC button earned me this. A second run through earned me a passing grade.
Next up - Takeoff and EFATO
Many thanks to -Heater- for allowing me to slap a Mudspike decal on his gorgeously weathered A-10C DT&E Early Test skin...