Every so often, a mission comes up in the Arma 3 Steam Workshop that piques my interest – I Am Pilot had an eye catching graphic, and a nifty mission description. Let’s take a look…!
SPOILER ALERT – MISSION DETAILS BELOW!
The premise of tom4ktm’s I Am Pilot is that you are a pilot engaged in relatively routine transportation on the island of Altis after a war has somewhat settled down. The briefing indicates that there are marked safe corridors that you can transit in your An-2. The mission can be downloaded from the Steam Workshop: HERE – and there is a requirement that you also install the An-2 mod by Sabre: HERE.
The mission starts with you being driven to the Abdera airport by your friend. The airport is abuzz with activity and you’ll be required to check in to receive your briefing and meet your copilot. You are kindly reminded to keep your weapon holstered while at the base.
At each stage, the TASK COMPLETED message will flash to show that you are correctly going about your duties. The Antanov An-2 is a beautiful model for A3. Our flight itinerary includes stops at several locations and reminders to maintain the airways that are deemed safe. After meeting the copilot, it is time to climb in and load up our passengers.
Arma 3 isn’t a bastion of realistic flight physics – so keep your expectations in check with regards to flight realism. I have the thrust mapped to my HOTAS and it doesn’t seem to be a direct relationship to throttle position, so you soon learn how to apply and reduce power in order to achieve the airspeed you desire. The An-2 starts flying at a horrifically (realistic) slow speed of 45-50 kph but you can cruise at 220-230 kph once cleaned up. It sure would be nice if A3 developers would look at improving the flight model for fixed wing aircraft with the same care and attention that has been given the helicopters (not that there isn’t room for improvement for those either..but they are definitely better). In the rush – I almost forgot to send the command for my copilot to board the aircraft, but he quickly catches up after he reminds me as I taxi away from the gate.
Soon we are headed off into the dangerous skies of Altis. Radio messages and mission prompts keep you aware of what your next goal is, so there isn’t much worry of getting lost unless you have all the waypoint markers turned off (if that is even possible).
Low level flying in A3 is hard to beat. Due to the small geographic area modeled, the developers obviously have created a feature rich and extremely detailed environment. Coupled with the nice lighting, haze, and atmospheric effects (and probably overblown HDR), the sim looks great. Within a few moments we have made a few turns and are settling in on approach to runway 4L at Altis International.
Upon landing, nice touches are abound like a Follow Me truck and (ostensibly) an aircraft marshaller to indicate your parking area. A Taru spins up and departs as you pull in and you are instructed to deplane your first passenger load at the terminal.
After dropping off your passengers, it’s time for the next leg and we are soon headed off to the east.
Approaching the Alymyra Flats – it happens – engine failure related to the fuel. You did read the top of the briefing board right?? In true A3 Choose Your Own Adventure style – you are prompted to decide whether to make an off airport landing, or bail out. I decide to stick with the aircraft and point it to the conveniently located Alymyra airstrip.
I touch down a bit hot and long and we roll out past the windsock beyond the old terminal building.
We roll to a stop and we jump out of the An-2 as my copilot reports he sees some enemy contacts approaching from the old terminal. We are definitely in bandit territory here.
A quick assessment shows some blue vehicles at a gas station just to our north, so we start running that way. Our mission instructions indicate we need to head back to the old terminal to investigate it – but I’m not really feeling comfy cozy about the rebels/terrorists that are advancing toward us across the flats…
We make a mad dash toward the gas station. Other terrorists are just beyond it, but somehow we manage to get to the station undetected where we find a fuel truck. We hop in and head back down to the terminal… Oddly enough, the idea that has probably occurred to you, has not occurred to me yet. I am a bit of a dim bulb.
We haul ass down a dirt road toward the terminal when I hear a plink – plink of us taking fire. Crap! As we roll up on the terminal I see two figures taking pot shots at us from near the wall surrounding the terminal. Great – we are driving a fuel truck around and getting shot at – what could possibly go wrong? We pass by the west side of the terminal and I whip the vehicle around out on the flats to use the only strategy I can think of – Grand Theft Auto mode.
As I complete the turn the terrorist stands up – and I go ahead and head right for him and slam into him (and the retaining wall)..blowing out my tires, but thankfully not killing us. Tango Down via Mercedes (or whoever makes this truck)..!
I pop out of the now disabled fuel truck and advance down the wall after picking up the dead terrorist’s handgun. I come to a red car and the mission dialog tells me I need to find the keys.
The mission status updates and now I’m instructed to make my way toward the safe area at the NATO checkpoint.
I start checking out the compound and find some dead civilians in various spots – but none of them have the keys. My copilot seems less concerned with the critical nature of our situation that I am…
Things get a bit exciting as I go to the terminal building. Two terrorists occupy the building and the courtyard and brief shootout ensues.
The terrorist I kill in the courtyard presents me with my first ever DLC missed opportunity as I’m not allowed to loot his weapon since I don’t own the Marksmen DLC yet. Inconvenient, but understandable.
Nearby I find another dead civilian – this time I find the keys.
I hear a high powered rifle shot. My copilot crumples. Oh crap. Snipers! I crouch and make my way toward the car, hop in, and speed off north down the dry lake bed.
Freedom – freedom yes! The rumble of the engine and the grating of the gravel are the sound of freedom. I’m tempted to turn on a little Chicago to soothe my rattled nerves…
Then it happens – BOOM – I hit a mine! Crap!! As the completely destroyed car rolls to a stop, I hop out and head toward the NATO checkpoint on foot…I can do this..I can make it!
BLAM – a high powered slug splits my cranium. I die. Sniper. Damn!!
So – I reload the mission from my last save (sorry fans of continuity – death and rebirth are part of my gaming unfortunately). This time, it hits me – fuel truck. Gas. Plane. Duh!!! And this is the beautiful thing about Arma – there are multiple ways to skin a cat (I’m still trying to figure out why one would want to do that – Rust and Don’t Starve players need not answer this rhetorical question). You can do so much in so many ways in A3, which is one of the pure joys of playing a well crafted mission like this. I hop in the damaged fuel truck, and limp it over to the aircraft a few hundred meters away – all the while waiting for a sniper bullet to decapitate me. Success! Fueling commences! I love A3!
I hop into the An-2, look at the empty copilot seat, and briefly lament the passing of my copilot before realizing I can now eat the pasta salad and cookie out of his catering. Silver lining accomplished. I fire up the engine and loop around into the wind to takeoff, still wondering if this is really going to work.
I gain some altitude and speed, then head back to the northeast, overflying the enemy which does not engage me, and then over the NATO checkpoint. Yes!!
I come back around – and I like to imagine the one NATO troop saying to the other “Are you seeing this shit??”… And that’s the thing – sometimes A3 missions feel like an interactive movie. As I stroll up to the NATO checkpoint, I pull a cigarette from behind my ear and put on my best Matthew McConaughey voice, and ask: “Hey fellas..gotta light?”
And that was that. Super fun mission with great design elements, fun gameplay, and nicely achievable goals for a relatively novice A3 player like myself. Once again – you can grab this fantastic mission by tom4ktm HERE in the Steam Workshop.
Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth
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