Birthdays and Fighter Jets

I made one of the ladies in the office laugh before leaving work - she asked if I was doing anything special - I replied “yes, for a treat, I’m paying for my entire family to have a meal out”.

We went to the pub just around the corner, and went a bit mad. Normally we would just order main meals, but last night we ordered starters as well. Everybody else seemed to go for halloumi skewers - I decided to be “different” and chose calamari. The kids had never seen calamari before, so guess who lost half of his starter so they could try it out?

The meal was lovely, and it made a change to not be washing up. We sat at a huge table in the centre of the restaurant area of the pub, and managed to avoid anybody complaining, or arguing about anything for the couple of hours we were there. Miraculous really. I think most of us had various types of burger - all except Miss 19, who had “Hunters Chicken”. Miss 16 had jalapenos in her burger, and looked up at one point without a flicker of a smile, and announced to anybody that might be listening “my face is on fire”.

We didn’t order deserts. After walking home, Miss 16 fetched the results of a somewhat secret project from the fridge - a “Snickers Cake”. I say “somewhat secret”, because she left the ingredients, and the recipe all over the kitchen a couple of days ago. She somehow succeeded in making the richest, heaviest, sweetest cake in the history of the known universe. None of us could finish the colossal slices she cut either - I imagine the recipe could probably be used to keep stranded mountaineers alive for weeks on end. It was GOOD though.

After dinner, as is usual the children vanished to their various corners of the house. There only seems to be so much time they can survive away from YouTube. While my other half got on with a knitting challenge she’s been working on, I found myself sitting in the junk room, wondering what to do with myself.

And that’s how I fell down the most ridiculous rabbit hole in quite some time.

At Christmas, I installed a flight simulator game on the hulking computer I inherited that now lives under the desk in the junk room. A very, very accurate military flight simulator called “DCS”. While you can start the simulator up, jump in an already runnning jet, and throw it into a nearby virtual farm, you can also learn how the “real” aircraft work - right down to the last nut, bolt, switch, lever, and button.

After an hour, I managed to take an F-18 from sitting on the tarmac “cold and dark”, to a hulking mass of hissing, roaring, fighter-jet. An HOUR. I have a page of hand-written notes filled with mysterious instructions such as “Switch on APU, Crank left engine, wait for 20%, advance left throttle to idle”, and “Switch left DDI to FCS, then reset FSC on left panel”… I have NO IDEA what the switches, buttons and knobs do, but somehow I managed to switch on an F-18 and get it in the air. Granted, the first time I made a mistake somewhere, and alarms started beeping at me as soon as I started rolling towards the runway. The second time went better - and rather dangerously, I have no idea why.


What can I take from my hour of idiocy? Perhaps I can be content in the knowledge that should I ever happen to be in a situation where I have to get in an F-18 that happens to be full of fuel, I could conceivably power it up, and steal it. No doubt I would be shot while hunting for some switch or other in the cockpit though.