During the course of Take On Helicopters' development, the team were presented with several opportunities to experience the varied world of copter flight. Be it air-shows, ride-alongs or cooperation with experts, we embraced any chance we could to help improve and expand our knowledge, and try to feed that back into the game!
In the second part of our look at development field trips, Project Lead, Joris-Jan van 't Land, reports on the team's trip to a helicopter airshow, and the chance to see a huge range of rotor-wing flight!
Report: Hradec Králové Airshow
Our second close-encounter with helicopters during the project was a helicopter show in Hradec Králové. We were mostly fortunate with sunny weather, allowing us to admire a good fleet of different types of helicopters. First up, exploring the expo grounds, where our favorite attraction would later become the star of the first DownLoadable Content: an old Mil Mi-24 Hind. It's an impressive and menacing beast to see in real life! Some of us took the opportunity to climb inside the cramped passenger compartment, and even the two cockpit seats. It can't be comfortable to be in the back with full combat gear, but it's probably safer to be sitting in a flying tank, than some thin-skinned utility helicopter. The contrast to the much more modern helicopter we'd flown in before was huge; no fancy modern instruments, but mechanical levers and switches.
Life from Above
Something we took away from seeing them all go through their procedures before lift off, was the unique character of each different model. They all had their unique traits, and it's something we've tried to capture in our three in-game classes as well. For example, the Sokół's main rotor blades went from bending almost all the way to the ground to fully straightening out while powering up. The EC 135 T1 & T2 flow by DSA a.s. (who were kind enough to have helped us during development with photo shoots), started with much straighter blades and were much quicker to get to idle RPM.
Having all lifted off, the pilots skilfully flew in a coordinated formation, centered around the bulky Mil. They repeated several flyovers and it was a real treat to observe. The only way of making it better would have been "Ride of the Valkyries" playing over the expo loudspeakers. With so little space between each helicopter, and different flight dynamics to take into account, it became clear how each pilot must be in total control at all times. Flying helicopters is no easy thing. Mid-way through the show we were also reminded of these flight crews not only being display teams; several of the trauma helicopters were called away to actual incidents.
The second part of the aerial demonstration was even more interesting, and especially for scenario design. The helicopters took part in a simulated trauma event, in which a car had crashed and was on fire. First-response ground units were involved, but much cooler were the helicopters queuing and taking turns to winch medical personnel to the ground. The various crews used different winching systems and procedures, which we could draw a lot of inspiration from.
After this display, the helicopters returned to their assigned landing pads and it was time for some fixed-wing prowess. Seeing a firefighting plane put out the car fire, and feeling the thunderous sounds of the Gripen display team certainly wasn't a bad way to end the day. In the end the show was not so much about being up-close with helicopters, but seeing how they behave from a ground observer viewpoint. It confirmed again how varied they are. We took our notes, imagery and sound recordings back to the team for incorporation into the game as much as possible.
Joris-Jan van 't Land
Project Lead, Take On Helicopters