The Flare Path: Is Worn To A Frazzle

…having spent the last seven days touring Scotland in an SA Scamp* on behalf of the ‘Better Together’ campaign. If you live in Dumfries, Stranraer, Ayr, Kilmarnock, Glasgow, Falkirk, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Ullapool, Stornoway, Portree, Fort William or Balamory, you may, at some point during the past week, have seen/heckled/pelted a corduroy-suited Sassenach while he teetered on a soapbox and rambled about the Battle of Waterloo, HMS Hood, Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown, and the Collected Works of D.C. Thomson. That Sassenach was me. Apologies if the following Naval Action, X-Plane, Train Simulator, and Volo Airsport news snippets contain more typos and tripe than usual.

*And a BMW R75 (the Scamp expired on the outskirts of Prestwick)

Naval Action, the comely wet warfare game aimed at sociable Aubreys and Bolithos, began reaching out to Cooks and Tasmans on Sunday. Game Labs want exploration to be as profitable and prestigious a career path as privateering or naval service. Those that would rather make their mark with sextant and machete than cannon and cutlass will be Abel to spend their time nibbling away at the seafog-of-war that drapes charts, and venture inland in search of botanical and zoological horrors treasures.

By exposing coastlines, founding ports, scouting island interiors, and bringing home valuable information about tradeable commodities, inquisitive captains should prove invaluable to “trading and combat oriented guilds/companies”.

As a man who’s drawn to battered coastal ironmongery the way seagulls are drawn to battered cod fillets, the talk of wreck salvaging is particularly exciting.

“The world will witness a lot of combat; ships will be lost at sea. Explorers will be able to search the archives for maps of shipwrecks and raise them to the surface. most lucrative shipwrecks will likely be in dangerous waters, so it will be useful to bring friends if you are raising the treasure”


Train Simulator underwent its annual automatic digit change yesterday. Proud owners of TS2014 are now slightly perplexed owners of TS2015. Among the questions being asked are “Why has the menu system been overhauled yet again?” (The new front-end feels clumsier and more cluttered than the one it replaces), “Have I missed something or is the much-talked-about ‘TS Academy’ really just a new name for the old tutorials?” and “Why do Dovetail think I want to listen to Sean Bean blather every time I fancy a footplate session?”.

On the bright side, the free update brings scudding clouds to TS for the first time (though existing scenarios will need to be edited before they display them) and everyone gets to fall asleep at the controls of the sleek Hitachi EMU that will, circa 2017, elbow out Britain’s iconic but ageing 125s from many express duties on the Great Western and East Coast mainlines.

If you acquire Train Simulator 2015 as a standalone sim rather than a gratis update, then you are – of course – tacitly approving Dovetail’s scandalous anti-steam stance (TS2015’s roundhouse is totally devoid of coal munchers) and will be tutted at mercilessly by Zoë from Accounts (a women whose high-calibre tsks have, in the past, created job vacancies in both the Cabinet and the Board of Governors of the BBC).

Talking of job vacancies, if you happen to be an unemployed flight sim fan with game industry and/or managerial experience,’s situations vacant page should make interesting reading at the moment. Having recently licensed FSX and announced a future flight sim project based on Microsoft Flight tech, the Chathamites are evidently looking to bolster their staff with a bevy of plane-passionate designers, programmers and producers.

Does this sound like you?

Does it sound like anybody?


After several months in beta, the “largest and most significant X-Plane update to date” finally deployed its thrust reversers on Wednesday. Now X-Planers can – thanks to the sophisticated default GPS that is ‘10.30’s main feature – thumb their noses at fog, low cloud, and darkness. Based on the Garmin 430W the new gizmo should makes IFR approaches possible at even the most basic US strips. Unlike the old unit, it’s fully compatible with the sim’s own flightplan fashioner too. Also included in the update are 300+ new airports (Going by the ICAO codes, many of which seem to be in Germany) revamped cloud code, improved terrain textures, better undercarriage simulation, a host of improvements for aircraft builders, and numerous bug fixes.


I’m reaching the point in the improbably invigorating Volo Airsport, where, should Ramjet Anvil decide to add cliff-nesting birds and an economic layer to the sim, I’m reasonably confident I’ll be able to make a living as a high-velocity egg thief.

The second I’ve finished typing this, I’m off to try yesterday’s patch – a patch that added ludicrous mid-air tucks, BASE-style spawn points, new camera positions, and reworked control sensitivity.
Thanks to Ramjet’s generosity, the first ten people to send me ( the identities of the four famous aviators name-scrambled below, will also be in a position to soar, cannonball, and CFIT their weekend away.

1. aerial earth ma
2. a recheck guy
3. a bred hornet
4. absurd leg ado


The Flare Path Foxer

Newsflash! I’ve sacked Roman. Last week’s Fawlty Towers foxer lacked durability (Sulphur-tipped savant Matchstick had the solution in under nine minutes) and, inexcusably, it failed to feature watery fowls, farty towels, or flowery twats.

a. Vickers Vildebeest (Matchstick, All is Well)
b. Sinclair Oil Corporation logo (phlebas)
c. Me 163 RAT (ram air turbine) (Rorschach617)
d. Torquay station (AbyssUK)
e. Catering Corps badge (Rorschach617)
f. Flak tower in Hamburg (Syt, Stugle)
g. Sherman from Sherman M4 (Syt)
h.US major’s insignia (All is Well)
i. Barcelona metro map (Artiforg)


The new Roman is a part-time tuning fork tuner called Tabitha. Tabitha’s hobbies include musing, apologising, collecting caltrops, and attending flea circuses. In her CV she described herself as ‘distant’ and ‘happy to get paid in biscuits’ – two qualities I’ve always admired in a foxer setter.


  1. Gusdownnup says:

    The map in the background looks like John Snow’s, of the casualties from a cholera outbreak in Soho.

    • Gusdownnup says:

      I smell something to do with… what happened yesterday. Just a whiff, mind.

    • All is Well says:

      I *think* the seaplane is a Beriev Be-12 “Chayka” or “Seagull”, NATO reporting name Mail.

    • Stugle says:

      The picture of the bridge under construction strikes me as the Szechenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest.

      • Gusdownnup says:

        I think it’s been destroyed in the siege of Budapest (WWII), but it’s the right bridge.

        • Stugle says:

          You are correct – I should’ve looked more closely: that would have been the most haphazard construction project ever. :)

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      Matchstick says:

      This isn’t a Game of Thrones link this time is it ? (either that or Channel 4 News)

    • Uglycat says:

      It is Snow’s map, it’s the Broad Street area turned upside down.

    • Stugle says:

      Augh! There’s a stamp on the right – it’s got a train, Queen Elizabeth II, 6 pence… How hard could it be to uncover it? Harder than my feeble efforts can manage, apparently.

      • Llewyn says:

        I’m finding that one very confusing. Looking at the position I think it might actually be x6 rather than 6, not least because I think the stamp might be newer than it first appears. The overall style is similar to the Classic Locomotives series released over the last few years, but it isn’t any of those. Also it looks more like some sort of railbus than a train, but I can’t find any stamp featuring a railbus, nor any appropriate railbus that might have made it onto a (probably) British stamp.

        • Shiloh says:

          I thought Canadian, and “6c” rather than “6p”… but I’m drawing a philatelic blank I’m afraid…

        • All is Well says:

          After much searching and pondering I’ve found it – it’s a stamp picturing Daisy the Diesel Railcar from Thomas the Tank Engine. The number is 76.

          • Gusdownnup says:

            Well done – it’s here for reference. link to

          • Danny252 says:

            Well, at least that answers why I couldn’t match it to any type of DMU that actually ran on BR.

          • Llewyn says:

            Argh. I’d worked out it was probably a 76p stamp from some point in the last 17 years or so. I’d even seen the Thomas stamps, but hadn’t bothered to look at any of them as I’d convinced myself it was a photo. Glad you got to the bottom of it before I had to abandon it and return to work though.

    • Shiloh says:

      I think I’ve got it – they’re all associated with chains. Chain mail, watch chain, daisy chain, chain bridge, chain guard… EDIT snow chain

      • phlebas says:

        The radio man in the bottom right is the controller for a pilot using a Link Trainer. Chain link. Yup.

      • Rorschach617 says:

        Sorry I’m late.

        Home Guard: Chain Home? (Codename of British EW radar stations in WW2)

        • Shiloh says:

          Very nice… more in keeping with the Flare Path’s generally military theme than my “chain guard”, certainly.

  2. Shiloh says:

    Top left is the badge of the Black Watch

  3. Dances to Podcasts says:

    If only I’d known I could’ve gotten biscuits…

  4. trjp says:

    I always see bullshit ‘requirements’ lists for jobs (as in the article above) with 1 extra item on the bottom which says

    “Because we’re not” ;0

    Seriously – why do people ask for so much SHIT – why do they advertise for some Adonis-of-the-clouds person they know they’re not going to get??

    Indeed it can be counter-productive – an honest person will see the list and say “well in fairness I don’t do that” and not apply but the chancer/liar type will just change their CV to include everything.

    I once had to write such ads and was repeatedly denied the ability to put trick items in there to see how many people bit – something like “Must have seen every episode of Friends” or “Must be able to identify strains of coffee bean 20m from the machine” ;0

    End of the day, the more honest ads – the ones which say something like “we’re looking for someone who’s keen to work with us on X, Y, Z and can show they can do it” get better applicants – I know because I’ve done it.

    The other stuff is written by imbeciles (the latin name for recruitment agents and HR people) who have nothing to offer the world themselves – ironic isn’t it?

    • Chaz says:

      I’m with you 100% there. I really detest all that corporate bullshittery. It’s just toss dreamt up by HR people to justify their existence on the company payroll. Thankfully I no longer work in a corporate office environment and I never want to again. I never want to have to fill out another self appraisal form again for the rest of my life.

    • MartinWisse says:

      Worse, you know who you don’t get responding to ads like these?


      Because blokes tend to respond even if they only match on twenty percent of the demands, while woman tend to worry if they match eighty percent. So if you load up a wanted ad with bullshit requirements, you only get the overconfident fakers.

      Those people who actually could do what you’re asking know what they’re worth.

  5. Slouch says:

    So… thoughts on Naval Action/Scurvy Simulator 2015?

    • Elmarby says:

      Unfortunately the developers are going the MMO route. I would have preferred a more relaxing single player experience along the lines of the Silent Hunter III campaign.
      And the sad things is that whatever compromises they make to realism to accommodate the MMO grind, whatever landlubberly behaviour the douchebag rival players will inflict on someone just cruising around, Naval Action will in all likelihood still be the best thing on the market for anyone that loves the age of sail.

      Which is a little weird. You would not think a game about self propelled stacks of cannon would be a tough self for a developer/publisher. Maybe someone somewhere saw Assassins Creed: Black Flag do well and went all in on a “proper sim”.

    • tigerfort says:

      They apparently think spiders are insects, which is totally unforgivable. No support from me!

  6. celticdr says:

    Naval Action looks like a tasty game, can we get more on it in the next Flare Path please Tim? Pleaaaase?

    • Tim Stone says:

      If Game Labs are happy to have me in the beta then there’ll be some proper coverage soon (But not next week. That column is already bagsied)

  7. Dozer says:

    Tim, were you really campaigning for Westminster rule?

  8. Myros says:

    You came to my country to interfere in my election? Nice of you Tim.

    • jinglin_geordie says:

      Election? The rest of us were voting in a referendum.

  9. fish99 says:

    My personal qualities:

    I never start something without