A Personal Review of the Virtual Strategic Air Command
By Robert Deyo (September 15, 2011)
In recent months I have been waiting for something different to emerge under the Features heading here at FlightSim.Com, Most of what you see these days are product reviews. I enjoy the features by Ron Blehm and others but what I miss are the days where occasionally a virtual airline was featured and we find out what is new in the VA world. Now it's mostly business. I remember the old live radio here at FSC don't remember what it was called but they interviewed selected VA's live...years ago.
This site does cater to the virtual airline providing products - services - freeware downloads, but I do miss the old feature editorials directed to the virtual airline itself. So on that note I'm going to do one if permitted?
Whenever a new or a existing VA is featured under the News heading I generally check them out and often I just say to myself, if you see one you see them all. This is just my observation, but in reality it's true. What else can you do in a standard VA that makes it more unique than the next. They have aircraft, routes, you take off you land and that's it. I'm bored when flying in a real airliner, after the takeoff which is fun and the landing...in between it's a drag for several hours. I can't imagine just sitting in front of my PC flying my sim for hours doing absolutely nothing except looking at the monitor. I'm good for a 30 minutes so I belong to small VA with short flights.
I'm not criticizing the VA world as many of the great ones find ways to keep its member interested and busy with events, fly-ins and flying on the VATSIM network. Even with these additional perks, everyone is doing the same thing. So to really carry your pilot base your management role becomes a real job with no benefits except the satisfaction you survived another season.
Recently a military VA was featured and I have seen several and I have checked them all out, they do very well and the hold their own, again many require VATSIM and they have events often multi-play to keep things interesting. Many like their counterpart try and make it a real as its gets with stiff hierarchical structure and you need to salute or stand at attention or follow a chain of command. There is nothing wrong with this if you have the demeanor to keep it together. This is not the rule in the mil VA there are many that are laid back and somewhat casual. But the one that caught my eye recently is the Virtual Strategic Air Command. It is owned and operated by another mil VA I found rated in the top 20 at VA central, at least they were when I last looked. But they are not the topic of my op-ed but these people that created that site run this one.
Let me tell you what stands out and I personally find very unique. First they are structured but it has nothing to do with a hierarchical structure it has to do with the mechanics of the game. You see the vStrategic Air Command begins in the year 1950. Having read their documentation and by the way the site is not classified as most of the sites I visit. Classified meaning if you are not a member you're not going to see anything inside. This site is powered by PHPVMS if you're familiar with this virtual airline management system (freeware by the way) you have the option to close certain elements of your site to the public, they on the other hand have opened their doors to the public as they want you to see what they do and what they are all about.
As I mentioned they start in the year 1950 about the time the Army Air Corp split to create the United States Air Force. Their whole structure is predicated on its members after completing their Academy training which is on a separate site from their SAC site (explained in a PDF file) begin their career as a second lieutenant. Now this site is in the process of recreating historically the Korean War, so they use the airframes which were available during this time period. Members progress in rank, time and airframes recreating all they major conflicts as they progress in time thru the Korean War, Vet Nam and all conflicts and the cold war conflicts including the Cuban missile crisis and beyond. In multi play they use active elements for combat. Many of the aircraft they use have been converted to be used in FSX. FS2004 aircraft use many of the special effect available here at FlightSim.Com, rockets, bombs, flares, gun and so on. They also use the new FSX Weapons package, this is optional and not required. But makes for great dog fights. They have expanded their support groups include the Military Air Transport Service - US Navy & US Marine Corp (Carrier Ops) - (UK) Royal Air Force and Navy) with supporting ranks and ID's. The air and sea assets are extensive. There are no downloads for that reason but you have access to the resources none the less. The mechanics of SAC is interesting and depending on your level of play and it is broken down to Novice 5 ~ 10 hours a month - Intermediate 10 ~ 20 hours a month - Advanced 20 plus hours a month. This is all determined in the registration process and allows staff to determine who is available for multi play. Team-speak is a requirement all members must utilize. It is about keeping up with the progression in time. The operations such as the Korean War are not quick missions, these operations or theaters can take several months to complete.
I had a couple email exchanges with the founder after viewing this program the first time. I was a loadmaster E-6 stationed at Charleston AFB in the mid sixties on C-124 Globemasters and a couple times a month we would fly out to Kindley AFB, Bermuda. It terns out that he was stationed with the 1604 Material squadron and assigned to base operations from 65 thru May of 67. Our paths may have crossed many times.
I like the fact they are attempting to create the period, the assets and conflicts and trying to use historical data to do this.
It is my understanding that many members of both his site are all vets, either US or UK and others. This is a very mature group and have a minimum age requirement of 18, this is monitored by the use of TS3. There is so much more that is going on here and you just need to check them out if you have an interest in the old Air Force and its Strategic Air Command and support groups.
You will have to do a news (FSC) search, Google or contact me direct as I don't believe I can provide a link here.