by Mark Percival
Sublogic's A2-FS1 Was the first 3D Flight Simulator I ever saw. When this first came out in 1979 it was one of a kind. The first version was available on cassette tape and loaded into any Apple II equipped with at least 16K of RAM. Not quite a modern day flight simulator but it was pretty neat in its day. My purpose in creating this disk is to document the keyboard commands. IÕm probably one of the few people still around who remember how to fly this thing.
Sublogic's purpose was to simulate the flying of a Sopwith Camel (World War 1 era bi-plane). Top speed for this beast was around 115 MPH. Their explanation for you being unable to do a loop to loop was that the Sopwith Camel was too nose heavy to accomplish this. Barrel rolls however are possible.
I have found three different versions of this program on the Internet. Version 1 is the same as the original cassette tape version from 1979. Versions 2 and 3 are enhancements to that original version.
In version 1 your world is a 6x6 grid, each grid representing 1 square mile? Mountains line the northern edge of this grid, however these mountains are not solid and you can fly right through them without fear of collision. Your own airfield and hanger is located in the most north-eastern grid. This is represented by mere lines on the ground. Your world is located 411 feet above sea level.
Far to the west, on the other side of the world is the enemy airfield and fuel depot. This airfield is again represented by lines on the ground and the fuel depot is only a dot. More on this later .... To the south-west is another civilian airfield (of course) again just represented by more lines on the ground.
Version 2 basically kept the same landscape but added three important features. First was a "CRASH message if you landed the plane too hard. In version 1 you could smack your plane into the ground as hard as you wanted and you could just throttle up again and fly away. Now, you received this message and then was sent back to your hanger to start over.
The other two features were related to landing. Landing this plane was almost impossible in version 1. It was hard to tell where you were in relation to the runway and just how far above ground you were. Your altimeter would only tell you that you were within 50 feet. Now you have a low altitude counter when you were under 1,000 feet. In addition there is an overhead (zoomed in) view to help line you up with the runway.
Version 3 expanded the size of the world, and added more (3D) mountains and a few other landmarks, including the skeleton of a bridge.
One feature FS1 had right from version 1 was the ability to declare war upon the enemy airfield, Once in this mode five enemy planes are dispatched with the purpose of shooting you out of the sky before you have an opportunity to bomb their fuel depot. Each enemy airplane has varying degree of skill and you can have a dogfight trying to get them before they get you. The enemies are only represented by flying dots on the screen. It is impossible to get all five enemy planes before they shoot you down. After you declare war there is no way out without crashing.
This would be a rude awakening for someone who was just learning how to fly and trying to figure out the keys. Accidentally declaring war would mean that while flying quite normally you would find yourself suddenly screaming in flames uncontrollably towards the ground. Not a pretty picture!
I hope that this is useful to someone interested in learning how to fly. This was always one of my favorite programs. Sublogic did create A2-FS2 in 1983 which had a lot more detail and more realistic flying controls. Still not quite the same as flying one of today's flight simulators but still fun.
When you first start the program you are in your hanger facing west. The upper half of the screen is your 3D view of what's directly in front of you. What you see at this point is three lines representing (top to bottom) the horizon, the edge of the airfield and the edge of your hanger. YouÕll see this better once you are moving and have taken off.
The bottom half of the screen is your cockpit display. The first gauge on your left, in purple, is your air speed in MPH. It Measures your speed from 40 to over 200 MPH. Cruising speed (full throttle, zero vertical velocity) is around 115 MPH. A controlled dive will bring you up in the 160-180 MPH range. The only way to reach 200+ MPH is an uncontrolled dive which means youÕve ripped the wings of your plane and are about to leave a very nice crater.
In the center (in green) are your indicators for rudder, elevator and throttle position. The white dot or line indicates current position. Next to that is your altimeter in purple. It works like an analog clock with the minute hand showing hundreds of feet and the hour hand showing thousands of feet. At the beginning it indicates that you are around 400 feet (actually 411 feet) above sea level. If you fly directly out of your hanger and attempt to maintain a maximum vertical velocity (around 650 feet/min) you can reach a maximum altitude of near 30,000 feet. At that point your fuel usually runs out and due to air density at that altitude, you are only climbing a few feet per minute.
At the right is a square box labeled Radar/Map Display, only used in war mode.
On the four line text display, the first line is, from left to right, turn rate (in degrees/min), heading (0-359 degrees with 0 being north) and vertical velocity (in feet/min). The fourth line indicates oil pressure, oil temperature, remaining fuel (in gallons) and tachometer which doubles as score in war mode.
One of the problems in version 1 was that it was tough to tell just how far you were from ground when trying to land. Starting in version 2, the third text line showed the actual number of feet of your altitude when you were under 1,000 feet. Above 1,000 feet this number becomes "^^^".
When you start, the default mode is keyboard controls. This can be toggled by pressing the "J" key for joystick Mode. It is very hard to fly this plane in joystick mode but keyboard mode makes it far easier to control. If you want to try it, go ahead but you'll want to switch back quickly. "K" switches you back.
The "keyboard" joystick is centered at the "G" key and looks like this;
F <- G -> H
The "F" and "H" keys move your rudder/ailerons and the "G" key automatically centers it. The "T" and "V" (or "B") works the elevators.
The "§" and "ˆ" keys are for your throttle, When on the ground and your throttle is off pressing the "." (period) key repeatedly applies the brakes to your wheels.
If you are running version 2 or 3, the "1" and "2" keys toggle your view from normal to an overhead (zoomed in) view, This was added to help line you up with the runway when landing and to assist in locating the fuel depot in war mode.
Once in the air, retract your landing gear by pressing the "U" key. YouÕll notice that actually all you are doing is changing your view from the detailed airfield view to the much more useful (zoomed out) world view. To return back to the (zoomed in) airfield view, press the "D" key.
If you add a bit of throttle (2 or 3 notches), you can get a feel for how your airfield looks. Start by turning your plain around and head for the beginning of your runway, When you find it, point your nose west (270 degrees) and apply full throttle. As you gain speed, if you pull back on your yoke (keys "V" or "B") you'll start to gain altitude.
Once in the air it's pretty easy. You'll discover that objects, such as mountains are not solid and can be flown through. Climbing at too steep a rate will stall your engine, indicated by a line next to your altimeter and a ticking sound from the speaker. If after flying around a while you want to try something different, try declaring war (or try to land!).
Far to the west of your airfield is a square mile with a single dot in the center. This dot represents the enemyÕs fuel depot. You can declare war by either pressing the "W" key or by dropping your bomb on the depot with the X" key, In war mode your Radar/Map Display becomes active with an "+" in the center showing where the enemy planes are in relation to yourself. Once you declare war 5 flying dots, representing enemy aircraft, will come after you. A line above your Radar map indicates they are firing at you.
A line just inside the display shows they are in your gun sights. Pressing the "space bar" fires your guns. Your tachometer now becomes your score as you get one point for each enemy you shoot down plus 3 points for a direct hit on the fuel depot. The idea is to drop your bomb, shoot the enemy and return to your air base. I have never been successful at this yet. Normally I'm shot down within 5 minÕs of declaring war.
It wasnÕt too long after the 3rd version that subLOGIC started work on A2-FS2 That flight simulator started the process towards the more realistic flight simulators that we have today. However this FS1 program certainly has it's own charm and I think it is kind of neat to still be able to fly this on my Pentium 200/NT 4.0 Machine using an emulator like AppleWin.
As far as I know these are the only three versions of this program. If you know different, please contact me and IÕll put out an updated disk. I can be contacted on the Internet.