2016 was the launch year of Black Shark Den (February 13th) and since we are a few days away to 2017, now is a good time to give you a quick end-of-year assessment of our 2016 achievements as well as sharing the projects we have for 2017. Any comments, discussions and suggestions are welcome on the Pilot mess at the BSD forum to all pilots and trainees.
After 10 months, we have 42 registered members. On this 42 members, 16 are Trainees (meaning they flew at least once with us, for an introduction flight or a mission) and 7 confirmed pilots (flying regularly in complex missions). Among these pilots, we are fortunate enough to have IRL ones and members of some of the ED 3rd party development teams always eager to share their knowledge and insight. We also have 3 members now based in the UK, so we can expect to get more flights on the weekends and in the afternoons (E.S.T). 45 MP missions were flown. This represent a little bit more than 100 flight hours. This Pilots/Members ratio might look low to some of you, but it is actually pretty usual for a virtual squadron. Adding to this, you have to remember that DCS helicopter pilots are a very rare breed in general, and even more in the US for some reason. Helicopters are an order or magnitude more complex to fly than fixed wings (in DCS and IRL). It takes a lot of time just to be able to fly the aircraft correctly, not to mention using the weapons systems in a combat environment. They are flying slow and low and are very vulnerable. 95% of the DCS community just want to jump in and blow up things. DCS is a combat simulator after all.
In parallel to the website, we opened new social channels dedicated to BSD and opened to all members:
- BSD on Facebook: Members can join and share all their chopper related news (IRL or DCS), screenshots, getting notified about upcoming missions or news posted on the website.
- BSD on Twitter: Get live notifications about what going on on BSD website.
- BSD on Youtube: Missions videos uploaded on this channel. All members can upload their best moments during missions.
- BSD on Pinterest: Join the BSD board and share all the cool pictures (chopper related) with the BSD community. Latest pins are displayed on the website.
New cool tools were also introduced to add realism to our missions:
- Univers Radio: this addon has been progressively adopted by BSD members as it adds a pretty amazing level of realism in radio management that lacks in DCS World.(tutorial available on the BSD forum)
- Lotact: at the end of the year, some of us started to test and use this awesome ATC addon for DCS. It even integrates UR.
- ovGME: this freeware is a modernized version of JSGME. It makes the installation of the mods we are using during our missions really easy, and all these mods are directly available through the BSD repository connected to your ovGME. So updates are fast and easy.(tutorial available on the BSD forum)
S.O.P documentation: we are currently working on a BSD S.O.P to gather and formalize all the IRL operational information we received during our flights. The purpose of this document is to make sure we are all working on the same level during complex missions (operations, radio communications, briefing, emergency,...)
BSD Brevity: the radio brevity will certainly be integrated in the SOP document. Nonetheless, the complete list of terms used during our missions can be found in a searchable table in the BSD library.
We have a lot of stuff to achieve for 2017. This should be an exciting year;
- Recruiting: We are always looking to get more regular pilots so we can reasonably count on at least 5 to 8 pilots for each missions. This will allow us to generate more complex ones, involving several helicopter groups (attack, recon, transport).
- Mission builders: this is a big weakness today in the BSD organization and we need to get at least one more mission builder to make sure we get missions to fly on a regular basis.
- S.O.P document: We hope to have the first version available early 2017.
- Multi squadron missions: we have several opportunities to fly with other squads around the world. Once our procedures are in place and applied in regular missions, it will definitively be time to show our expertise to the outside world.
- Dedicated server: this can be required in case we are ending up regularly with more than 10 pilots on every mission. I am not expecting this in 2017 but who knows. The cost is not negligible though and it would require to have a system in place to share the expenses. Today, BSD is free to all members.
BSD is wishing you all a very happy and successful year 2017!