A BD-5J AcroJet is one of the most manoeuvrable little
sports jets in existence and like most aeroplanes it
takes years of experience before it's possible to fly
one, let alone try horribly complex and dangerous stunts.
Until now, that is. With the aid of Microprose's latest
flight simulator you can sit back in the comfort of
your favourite armchair and try to complete all sorts
of aerial acrobatics without risking life and limb.
is quite an unusual simulator and uses the Solo Flight
type of viewpoint, with the cockpit dials shown at the
bottom of the screen and the actual AcroJet plane viewed
out of the window in 3D style from behind and above.
This makes flying a lot easier because you can see exactly
what the plane is doing. The point of view can also
be changed so the plane can be seen from the rear, port
plane can perform all the basic manoeuvres normally
associated with flying -- nose up and down, bank left
and right, but because of its design can also perform
special movements called slips and rolls. Normally these
moves need careful use of rudder and ailerons but Microprose
have made the whole process easier -- all you have to
do is press the fire button when you're performing a
manoeuvre and the program automatically balances the
rudders and ailerons for you.
plane is controlled in the traditional joystick style
but other controls like the throttle, flaps, landing
gear and speed brakes are accessed via various keys.
cockpit dials show all the information needed for flying.
The display is made up of four main dials, a large readout
area, a smaller display area and a radar type screen.
The four big dials comprise an altimeter, attitude indicator
and artificial horizon, airspeed indicator and vertical
velocity indicator (WI). The other main display area
shows numerically the exhaust gas temperature, engine
power, speed brakes, fuel remaining, clock and CRT change
clock (pressing F1 at any time changes this display
to show the current weather conditions). The smaller
display shows the flaps indicator, compass heading,
ball compass and airstrip direction indicator. The radar
display comes into action when you're trying to complete
a stunt or course and by showing a map of the surrounding
area with any course or landscape features and with
the AcroJet displayed as a flashing pixel.
first loaded the screen displays a large number of options
allowing you to tackle a single event, decathlon, pentathlon
or unlimited event schedule. A single event is just
that, the pilot tackling a single event. A pentathlon
allows you to string together five different moves and
decathlon is ten different moves one after the other.
Unlimited is the best option of all and allows you to
create your own aerobatics display or set course.
screenshot was not in the original review]
are ten AcroJet competition events, but all have checkpoints,
a mark over or around which the plane has to fly. The
first event is a Pylon race where the pilot has to take
off from the runway and fly outside four pylons planted
in the ground in the quickest possible time. The Slalom
race follows a similar pattern, but this time the pylons
have to be negotiated in a different order, making the
event far more complex than the previous one.
next set of events are ribbon races, featuring a series
of dual poles with ribbons strung between them. The
first ribbon event is the simplest one and the idea
is to take off and fly between two sets of ropes, successfully
cutting the ribbons hanging between them. The Inverted
Ribbon Cut is the same as the previous one, only the
ribbons have to be cut whilst flying upside down. Ribbon
Roll takes ribbon cutting a step further and to complete
the event you must cut the ribbons while doing a 360
degree roll, a very difficult and precise manoeuvre.
The next event is a highly dangerous one -- the pilot
has to take off and perform a loop, and at the bottom
of the loop fly underneath a ribbon . . . there's no
room for error. The Under Ribbon race is one of the
most simple of this type of event -- just take off and
fly under the three sets of poles, but the most dangerous
event of all is the Cuban eight. After leaving the airstrip
the pilot must fly through a gate, then complete a half
loop, half roll on the descent and fly through another
gate, and conclude roll back through the first loop
again. It's a very tricky event to perform due to the
complexity of the manoeuvre and the fact that the whole
thing takes place at very low altitude.
other two events are Spot Landing and Flameout Landing.
A Spot Landing is where the pilot takes off, climbs
to at least 2,000 feet, loops back over the runway and
lands again. Very precise flying is needed to complete
this event and one slip of the joystick could mean that
you overshoot the runway. A Flameout Landing is similar
to the previous event, but when the plane reaches 2,000
feet the engine has to be switched off and the plane
glided in to land under no power.