While watching the news the other day about the many fires in the US and the effort to control them, a light bulb went on over my head and immediately headed to Google to find some firefighting missions for FSX.
Imagine my disappointment when all I found was a single helicopter mission, which may or may not be good (I heard it is but I have not tried it yet), but it's not quite what I had in mind. I am sure that driving the chopper over a fire is a challenging experience, but from what I heard about dropping retardant over a live fire from a plane, I believe it would make a more rewarding and engaging simulator experience.
I did read in other forums that previous FS editions had some Air Firefighting "missions" (or their equivalent) and air tankers (not the refueling kind - which creates problems when searching for them, by the way), but I do not have the previous versions and my understanding is that FSX mission engine is much more sophisticated and would lend itself much better to the task not only by creating missions, but by building a story line around them.
One of the reason I was so interested in air firefighting and I was prepared to drop whatever money it cost) is because a few years back I read two books written by a pilot and a "para-fire-fighter" (one fiction, one a true story) and while I forgot their names, the stories and the feats of airmanship were absolutely stunning and the human element together with the mechanical and logistical one made for one of the most entertaining reads I experienced (and I read a lot).
Since I am also a big fan of Air Combat (IL2) I thought that air firefighting would be the closest to civilian "combat" you could get to fly. In the books there were many accounts of the flames and winds playing tricks on the planes, the shifting weight, the landings in lakes, etc.
To me the whole experience would be absolutely perfect for a series of FSX missions that would combine stunning scenery, human stories with a real flying challenge.
In fact, I am convinced that if conceived as a series, it could be a popular commercial add-on for FSX, one I would buy sight unseen with various levels and engaging stories. A commercial company would be able to produce several titles set in different areas of the country with actual characters and even mimic real fires and missions.
For instance, I would include easier missions to start with and increase the difficulty as it goes on (or as the fire gets bigger). Some missions could be "Para fighters" drops. I'd also add pumping trucks and ground based firefighting equipment, several planes, including some old rickety birds (which the books authors flew in reality) with malfunctions and other problems, There is even a new 747 conversion I read about on the papers, and so on.
I am truly surprised no one has come up with something like it yet. Whatever missions were available for the older simulators, I am pretty sure they did not exploit the genre as fully as I have in mind.
Maybe, FSX (or Xplane, which I don't have, yet) simply cannot simulate and render the kind of graphics and physics necessary for a true to life simulation. But I think tat would be even more of a motivation for a commercial supplier to create the necessary modifications and sell it almost as a stand alone videogame.
Since I am pretty new to flight simulation, it's entirely possible I am unaware of existing offerings in the genre and/or I missed previous posts on the subject, but I would love for more experienced simmers to tell me what they think of the idea. If any Open Source creators (or commercial ones) are interested, I certainly have the graphic background (it's what I do for a living) and the storytelling/research abilities to explore the subject in more depth. I just don;t want to start doing a lot of work without first polling this forum's readers and learn a bit more about what the community would think of such a project.
If the consensus is that such a product would be interesting to the community I am actually willing to learn the mission engine and prepare some easy missions to release around. Hopefully, that effort will spark other's interest in making better missions and maybe ultimately the full mission set.
While I am at it, what about those Hurricane planes NASA sends into the eye of the hurricane to study them? Has anyone made missions like that? How difficult would it be to create hurricanes in FSX? What about fires? Would that be the hardest part of the firefighting missions?
Thank you for reading so far. I am really interested in your opinions.
Is this the one you have.
He is a very prolific designer, email him to see what he has in mind for FSX.
Is this the one you have.
Indeed this is the one I downloaded. Unfortunately, when I loaded it in FSX I was unable to make the chopper lift off. So I switched to external view and I noticed it did not have a rudder rotor. The tail truncates about halfway. I didn't have time to try to troubleshoot it but I will reinstall it as soon as I have a chance.
Regardless, it is a nice mission, but not exactly what I had in mind when I was thinking of recreating firefighting missions. If I can remember the titles of those books I'll post them here as one of them in particular is very technical about the flight characteristics of those aging tanker planes and the mastery needed to keep them in the air.
The other thing with choppers in FSX is that I constantly read that they are not very true to life and while I have no experience flying a real chopper, I would tend to agree based on my exposure in FSX. If they really behaved like they do in FSX I'd probably have my backyard littered with news chopper parts and scraps 🙂
But maybe that's just me 🙂[/quote]