Falcon 4.0  

Can you imagine how much fun it is to fly and fight together in the virtual skies as on the ground? 
The following chapter describes how the first pilots found together and launched the first virtual German-US  fighter squadron worldwide. 

first encounter  coming together
time passes by  the future 

It has been mid of April 1997 when Bluefire and me (vOid) first met. He got my email address from Jane's, where I posted my name to desperately find an opponent / companion for my ATF Gold sim, which was state of the art in those days. As I bought myself the German version I had no chance to fly with the "internationals". I posted to Usenet, to my local BBS and hunted in several IRC channels for someone else who also owns a German ATF. Even the few guys I found at the Electronic Arts homepage had either no Gold or no internet access, or they did not like online - flying at all, due to the high telephone rates here in Germany. Bluefire encountered the same problems, but with the first email he sent me he did not expect to find a comrade as prone to flying as himself. The first evening it took 4 hours to get ATF multiplayer to work, but thereafter we flew till dawn, quitting only for a short sleeping break and climbed again into the cockpit only a few hours later. This historic date was April 17th 1997 when not so much people knew what the internet was or that it was possible to  (ab)use it to fly online sims.


Fascinated by this unique experience, we decided to establish a German "Geschwader", mainly to concentrate the German "versionists". We had in mind, however, to get the international version as soon as possible to compete with many of the pilots of the world. If interested, you may get some screenshots of those days by clicking here. Few days later we met "Pappy", an US 'pilot' located in  Schwedelbach  / Germany, as eager as we were to fly online. And a few days later we met another virtual pilot -" Snake". He  was also deeply engaged in the flight scene and joined us. So with us four, the rumble could begin ! It only took a few flights to see that we would form an excellent quartet, the root of an international operating flight-team. The squadron was born and this at a time when merely very few people knew how to make a game running online properly.


Later, we agreed to set up this German - US Squadron as the 1st G.U.N.S. "Richthofen". This is a dedication to the WWI most famous squad of fighter aces, the "Jagdgeschwader 71" which was in command of Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the "Red Baron".
Although 80 years have passed by, we think that the spirit of this famous squad is still alive and can find a virtual resurrection in a non-militant way on the internet!  


More and more pilots joined us. It was summer 1997 when we decided to launch our very first website. The reason for this was 
1. to find new pilots worldwide to join us
2. to give the uprising squadron the chance to establish a well-balanced reputation.
Very fast, our squad consisted of up to 32  members facing us with some problems of administration and internet flying ability. You should know we flew around with some "high-speed 28.8kb" modems those days and were proud of being a lot of times faster than the rest creeping around with some 2.4 kb...
Well, it was only a matter of time when we had to recognize that some pilots left the young team.  Some of them gave up flying at all, some switched to other flight sims, some just vanished. The rest of the team, including members as Cyrex, Butcher (and later Feret, Wulf, Checkpoint, Tiger, Seaman) proved to be a very reliable marrow and stayed friends until these days and we are very proud of flying with such fantastic comrades!


If you want to get an impression on HOW our very first webpages (ATF) in 1997 looked like, just click here.


Meanwhile, we have flown through many combat sims and stopped now at FALCON 4.0 (SP 3) which is an excellent simulation to test your multiplayer abilities in a complex combat scenario. The spirit of F4 is absolutely unique among flight simulations for the development of this game now is completely up to some thousand enthusiastic virtual pilots and programmers since Microprose and Hasbro smashed the original Falcon project. Never before a game has been completed and developed by so many people in a big synergetic work. In a way this deeply reflects the spirit of the Internet itself, another reason why to fly the FALCON (see Delphi Forum, F4DEV et al.)
Anyhow, simulators are NOT reality, just a game. And what is the intention of a game? It is spending joy to all participants and is helping to learn from each other. And this effect have these games too. They are highly specified netgames where you can learn the necessity to work in a group, to communicate with each other and to fulfill difficult tasks. You must trust your wingmen, know their techniques, their competence and their incompetence. As well as your own of course. It's nothing for lonely shooters, it's teamwork time.


At the edge of 2009 the squadron has become more and more diversified in several substitudes which all keep contact among each other. Whilst still a branch is flying the falcon, another branch plays =EVE= or goes for OFP / ARMA. In my personal opinion, this is the BIG SHOOTER in des next time. We are graceful of beeing capable to run several servers on powerful SDSL lanes in Aachen and Luedge. Thank you vOid and thank you Scorpion who hosts the server since Jan.2004!

On the long run, we continue our policy of small but sincere steps of an international community of professional pilots flying and fighting together in different squadrons around the world. Although we are only a small contribution to this, we bring in a lot of experience on the most important topics of running a squadron for many years....

So whatever the future brings.... it will be  challenging and interesting. And we, the 1st G.U.N.S. squadron are prepared to face it! The first - the real - the unique !


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