Who are we? We’re a bunch of people, from all over the world, who enjoy flying Falcon together in a multiplayer environment. As you can see from our posts on the forums, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we strive for excellence and realism in the cockpit. We have "official” missions and campaigns that our fully-winged members fly almost every night, but by registering on our forums you can also pick up an impromptu flight every night as well, and if you want to join us, the gateway to the Wing is our 55th "Double Nickel" Virtual Training Squadron, which flies a fun/training mission every weekend for our new recruits, trainees and fully-winged members.
We’re not much into dogfighting competitions (been there done that and it makes some people angry). We’re much more into team flying, against the AI and also against each other. Don’t get me wrong, we have some incredibly skilled dogfighters in the wing. But the pinnacle for us is large multiplayer missions, where dozens of people can all fly at the same time. In fact some of our members are real-life fighter pilots. We just enjoy learning, and continuing to learn, about the awesome F-16 "Viper” and using it to blow virtual stuff up!
Each of our fully-winged members has been through extensive one-on-one training in the virtual cockpit, provided by volunteer instructors who know their stuff. Some are Certified Flight Instructors in real life. We have lawyers, doctors, cops, crew chiefs, professors, pilots, people from every walk of life, as well as a bunch of active duty and retired military in our ranks. We enjoy helping each other, giving each other crap, handing out the occasional knock on the head, and beer.
Curious about membership? Membership gets you access to the official campaigns, thorough initial flight training, and a cool patch you can wear on your shirt, guaranteed to pick up chicks, make you money, and win you friends. All we ask is that you show a desire to learn, teach, and show up on time. All applicants have to be at least 18 years of age, but the web site is open to all ages.
What is Falcon? It is not so much a game, really. It’s the most accurate F-16 simulator you can buy for the home computer. It’s also a complete battle simulator, complete with all manner of ground and sea forces. But best of all, it’s an environment where people can fly an amazingly realistic F-16 "Viper" together with other people! You can peruse our forums by clicking on the Forum link above for all kinds of helpful stuff about Falcon, as well as pictures, jokes, and some completely useless stuff. Our library of helpful documents, maneuver tactics papers, checklists, wing standards and the like is available to members from the Media/Files section of the web site. And if you’d like to apply for membership and join the wing, you may do so at the top of the page using the Join Us button. Please have your Visa card ready. Just kidding... we prefer PayPal!
As you can probably tell from the section above, we don't take ourselves too seriously, though we do strive for excellence and realism in the cockpit. This applies to our training as well. All of our new recruit trainee members are offered the opportunity to participate in an intensive program designed to make sure all of our members have the same advanced skill set. This makes flying multi-player much more fun. It's called IFT, or Initial Flight training, and no matter the background or skill level of the new member, everyone who wishes to be a fully-winged member of the 72nd and join an operational squadron, goes through it.
That's not to say you "have to do it". If you want to fly on weekends in a more relaxed environment (where we still teach, but informally) our 55th Virtual Training Squadron is the place to be. But there's much more cool stuff to be had by becoming a fully-winged line pilot in an operational squadron: access to Combat Weapons Training, Lead Pilot Training, ACE (Air Combat Exercises), CAS (Close Air Support) Training, Human AWACS Training, and much, much more. The 72nd has active duty and retired fighter pilots, bombardier/navigators, crew chiefs, AWACS crewmembers, and more who provide "as real as it gets" (unclassifed) insights into how it is done. And of course as a fully winged pilot you have access to all of the activities listed below, plus an expanded private forum and private downloads section with even more cool stuff.
But it all starts with IFT. We treat the F-16 as an airplane first, learning things like the fuel system, the engine, the electrical system, the avionics, etc. Each Trainee gets 20+ hours of group and one-on-one instruction with our Instructors in the jet. Learning things like formation flying, take offs and landings, navigation, exploring the extremes of the flight envelope, and emergency procedures. The whole process can take up to 12 weeks, depending on their existing knowledge of Falcon. But when they're done, the new pilots are completely ready to join a line squadron, participate in a large force exercise, and are welcome to full admission to the 72nd. But all this training isn't without fun. In fact many of our pilots had so much fun in IFT they come back and do it again from time to time!
In addition to IFT and its popular follow-on Combat Weapons Training (CWT), we offer many advanced courses. Our missile evasion class is always a big hit (pun intended!). BVR tactics is another popular one. All of our Lead Pilots go through LP training, which includes things like mission planning, leadership skills, as well as advanced flight training in the jet. This helps to ensure the flight and element leads know what they're doing, and can get you home safe and sound. If all of this sounds like a lot and, I guess it is. But we enjoy it! We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't. And the fun is contagious!
Currently the 72nd VFW has the following activities for its members:
Weekly Squadron Flight Nights - These are conducted by each individual squadron of the Wing and include training missions, tactical engagements and campaign flights
55th VTS Training Flights - These are conducted by the 55th Virtual Training Squadron on the weekends at various times (check the calendar) in order to allow broad participation of pilots from around the world
Red Flag - Semi-annual event, consisting of a squadron competition and a large scale tactical engagement
Large Force Exercise (LFE) - Monthly event, consisting of a Wing-wide co-op mission exercising all F-16 system capabilities and mission areas
Falcon Online - We enjoy participating in the FO force-on-force events as a Wing and have organized flights almost every night there is an FO campaign running
Force-on-Force - An event where we challenge other online wings to a competition
Fantasy Flight Night - Squadron event where we fly aircraft other than the F-16 "Viper"
Kill your Commander - Quarterly event either in the Dogfight Module, or a special TE, pitting the Wing Staff and Lead Pilots versus the Line Pilots, Students, and Trainees
Pick up Flights - Members contact each other, typically via the web site chat or Skype, and fly missions of their own choosing