Exhibit - Total Air War
Newer pilots can only fly "one star" missions such as CAP and escort flights with little chance of enemy contact. As you successfully complete missions, your active pilot gains points that eventually allow access to more difficult (3 or 4 star) missions, including strike flights, anti-AWACS, SEAD/Wild Weasel, etc. You can build up points faster by volunteering for scramble missions. Press the scramble button to do this -- if it is on, a dialog box will pop up when a scramble mission is needed, giving you a chance to fly it. Take off quickly, because scrambles are only generated when incoming threats are VERY close to the base (if you choose not to fly scramble missions, the AI flights will take them).
This system certainly follows real-world logic -- new pilots may initially be assigned some "routine" missions to expand on their training and build up skills. But mission success also requires returning safely to base and landing. If you destroy all the mission goal targets and are later shot down, ejecting or getting killed, you fail the mission and points are subtracted from your pilot's score (the "pilot" in TAW is you, but not literally a single in-game persona -- if your pilot is killed, the mission is failed, but the campaign continues). You can have a few bad missions and get knocked back down to the point of flying only one-star CAPs again.
Frustrating, but there is a solution.
This special LOGFILE.DAT can be placed in the pilot subdirectory of your TAW installation folder, replacing the default LOGFILE.DAT there (make a backup copy of the original if you wish - it's a binary file so you can't view and edit the contents directly). The new file creates a pilot record with 100,000 points, allowing you to fly any mission in a campaign.
NOTE: This "fly any mission" capability will only apply to campaigns started after you install the special logfile.dat -- any campaigns started and saved before will still restrict the missions you can fly based on the "old" pilot score.
Note also that in the patch, additional settings are available in the GAME.CFG file. Three that are very useful are START_ON_RUNWAY=1 (avoid taxi from parking area, though you can also time skip to the runway with Shift-S), OTHER_FLIGHTS_IN_AIR=1 (your wingmen and escort flights are already airborne, so you just take off and join up), and LAND_AT_ANY_BASE=1 (you can land at any allied base and still pass the mission).
MiGMan thanks Chino