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Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson
20 Years of Military Flight Simulations on the PC by Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson.

Flight sim guru Len "Viking 1" Hjalmarson chronicles the first 30 years of computer flight sims, the software, hardware, people and the culture.

The Growth Years: 1990-1996

ThrustMasterís F-16 Throttle Quadrant System

ThrustMasterís F16 TQS appeared early in 1994, the first separate throttle controller that accurately represented the throttle in the F16. With the combination of the F-16 FLCS and TQS, TM took the lead with the most flexible, most programmable, and heaviest flight combat hardware ever seen by gamers. Some uses claimed they could make these controllers sing and dance, and the likes of Bill "Cowboy" Wilson did just that.

On the downside, using the DOS utility to access the logical programming features to achieve the results desired could be a challenge. Calana software addressed that need with their CS Commander software in 1994.

16 bit sound cards were also making their debut in 1994, with companies like Creative Labs and Media Vision pushing the hardware boundaries.

In January, 1995, the first issue of Enemy Lock On was printed, a British magazine dedicated to military flight simulations. ELO sold by subscription only, and when it finally ended publication around 1998 the subscriber base exceeded 15,000.

1995 saw the release of Activisionís A-10 Cuba, Eric "Hellcats" Parkerís excellent production. A10 employed dated 256 color graphics but had excellent flight, damage and physics modeling. The cockpit was the most detailed yet seen, with working instruments and mouse-able controls. This was probably the first mouse-able cockpit to appear on the PC.

A-10 set the standard for physics for the next few years, and I still remember the first time I landed an ailing Warthog on a single engine and single gear strut and pirouetted down the landing strip.

A10 Cuba Boxr

Enemy Lock On

EA released Marine Fighters>, based on the US Navy Fightersengine. Origin jumped back in with a WWI title, Wings of Glory. The show was stolen, however, by DiDís EF 2000 and SSIís Su-27 Flanker, the first native WIN95 sim.

Read on

This article is ©2001 Leonard Hjalmarson and Thrustmaster ® and hosted with permission in the Flight Sim Museum. Unauthorised reproduction is forbidden.