My wife emits a magnetic field that destroys electronics. I don’t pretend to understand it, but the evidence is unmistakable: all she needs to do is pause while walking by a computer (or stereo receiver, or remote control) and poof… circuit boards fry, hard drives halt, monitors go dark. It creeps me out. But as much as I’d love to blame this morning’s FS fiasco on her, she was nowhere near my office. Not even in the house. So what gives?
The morning started out innocently enough. I was in a funk about this mornings Fanboy Friday post, grumbling to myself about how little time I’ve had to do any flying this week. Even my forum surfing time has been cut short, courtesy of the day job and life in general. Grasping at straws, I figured a few minutes of flying in a lovely, warm landscape would put me in the writing mood. A good theory, but in practice? Fail.
It was a balmy morning on the island of Mustique. The flags in front of the terminal were snapping in the breeze, while flocks of parrots glided idly by. I hopped into the latest beta of one of my favorite planes (which shall remain nameless as they try to work out the bugs), ready for a nice, relaxing flight. Frame rates were great, the view fantastic. I taxied across the apron and trundled up the hill to line up at the threshold of runway 9.
The single runway on Mustique resembles the bed in an Italian hotel, with slopes at either end, and a trough in the middle. I gunned the engine and began hurtling down the white line. The plane pulled to the right a little, so I compensated with a little left rudder. No effect. I gave it a little right brake to try and pull it back in line, and suddenly it veered violently in the opposite direction, tearing across the runway diagonally. As any taildragger pilot knows, this is where the pedal dance gets serious. Rapidly pumping with alternating feet, I tried to wrestle the beast back in line, but with no luck. It’s as if rudder inputs were mysteriously less effective the faster I went. In a last ditch effort to save my hide, I chopped the throttle and rolled off into the grass alongside the runway, coming to a halt. A little voice in the back of my head nagged at me… how come I never felt those tell-tale ground bumps from my trusty FS-Force? Hmph.
Determined to prevail, I spun the plane around and climbed up to the top of 9 again, headed for the turnaround. Apparently, the wheel brakes on this particular bird were on their last legs. With the stick held close to my gut, I pressed the right brake, gave it full right rudder, and blipped the throttle, attempting a graceful pirouette. The plane swung wide, headed for the drop-off across the runway. Then, suddenly, I’m looking up at sky, listening to the brain-jarring sounds of rending metal, while a green banner scrolls across the top of my screen: Crash. From the outside view, it’s baffling–somehow I’ve managed to fall through the ground.
Sigh. The flight resets, and this time I’m much more careful with my taxiing, managing to line up and take off without issue. Well, except for one: my force feedback is gone, resulting in a loose, floppy joystick that’s a devil to control. What happened to FS-Force? It’s a mystery. For three blissful minutes, I crossed the channel, headed for Bequia. Monitoring the gauges, I see that the RPMs are a little on the high side, so I pull back the propeller lever. It has no effect. Perfect, one more thing to report to the devs.
I put down flaps, slowed for descent, and line up with the runway. As I’m descending, I think that something looks odd about the island. Where’d all the autogen go? There are no houses, none of those lovely trees, just naked hills everywhere. What the…? No wonder my frame rates were so good. I check my settings. Sure enough, autogen is set to “Very Dense”.
I land, decide on a touch and go, and take off again. This little bird is nimble, I’ll give it that. As I’m climbing out, I realize that the VC I’m looking at isn’t my favorite of the lot, and I go to switch aircraft for the other version, thinking that’ll put a smile on my face.
Bang. The screen went black, the computer stopped responding. After five minutes of waiting, I force quit FS, unhooked my controllers, and put them back in the drawer. One of those cartoon squiggles appeared in a bubble over my head, a little puff of ash.
Maybe the sun will come up tomorrow, bright and warm. Maybe the birds will be chirping and all will be right with the world. For now, I think I need a good book and an exorcist for my electronics. It it too early in the day to start drinking?