Islander

Humans were, still are, hunters and gatherers.

This is, to the best of my knowledge, why we enjoy video games where we hunt and gather things using technological tools and toys of the trade.

Shooter-looter games like Fortnite, The Division 2 and Arma are popular because they let us simulate actions that stimulate the parts of our brains evolution has shaped to make us the unkind devilish masters of our environment that we are here on our little island in the Cosmos.

And hunting and gathering with friends in competition against other tribes completes the formula. We can kill others in the name of an organized religion or a country or a philosophy, or for no reason at all, without actually murdering or even harming them in real life, no matter how annoying or evil or unfashionable they are.

Like eating a plant-based hamburger instead of one made from an animal imprisoned in terrible conditions for its entire life, hopefully this is progress.

Playing video games as an adult lets me continue learning from experiences I had as a child and to play without harming others, even though I would really like to plonk them on the head with a big heavy stick or shoot a rocket-propelled grenade or M60 belt-fed machine gun at their motor vehicles sometimes.

Theatrical release subway poster for the film First Blood.

Also, I want to see what would happen if I did things that are very dangerous and could easily end my life or cost a lot of money and take a lot of time or just be impossible to experience in reality, without the risks of physical, psychological or financial disaster.

But all the above is really a far too tangential introduction to what I actually want to tell you about: The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, an airplane made in the Isle of Wight.

In January 1982 I was on a flight from Santos Dumont to a remote forestry research station called Jatobá near Posse, Goiás, in a Bravo November The Second Islander.

The pilot was having trouble locating our destination. We had been flying around and through storm clouds for some time, water was leaking into the cabin, and, he informed us, fuel was running low, which caused a family member to start laughing without being able to stop — his special power to deal with potentially difficult situations.

The man in charge of the flying machine we found ourselves in decided to descend and try landing where he could. He spotted a promising flat-ish field, lowered the flaps and told everyone in the back to hold on tight.

Black and white photograph of my mother, my cousin and I by a Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft on a potato field.
My mother, cousin and I by the BN-2 Islander that first brought us to the remote center of Brazil by VOTEC air taxi. We were all laughing from relief after successfully landing on an unprepared field. Photograph by Antonio Roberto Polita or Peter Griffee.

It was a bumpy but successful landing and other than the water leak, which could be managed, the plane seemed intact.

The field turned out to be a plantation of potatoes, and after speaking with some startled workers who had come running to see us it was determined that Jatobá was around 20 km further in another direction, just a few more minutes away.

They helped push and turn the small aeroplane so it was pointing the right way and made sure the wheels were free. Takeoff was successful, and we soon landed at our destination.

This experience made it clear to me that the sort of aeroplanes I would like to fly if I became a pilot would be ones that can land in the wilderness, like the BN-2 Islander.

Maybe one day I will, and in the meantime I have high-fidelity flight simulators like X-Plane (TorqueSim BN-2 Islander just released), MFSX, DCS, IL-2 Sturmovik and others like Dead Stick to anticipate, as well as different-fidelity sims like the mad floating-away-from-explosions-and-inclement-weather Just Cause 4.

Flying in bluish skies. The game’s color palette changes as you fly through weather. On the wing.
Some images of the Islander-like “Emsavion Cropduster” in Just Cause 4. The top speed is 280 km/h, which is close to the real one, and given its maneuverability and takeoff behaviour I think the people responsible for the JC4 model may be fans of the actual aircraft. Perhaps they jumped off of one for game parachuting mechanics research?

Just Cause 4, by the way, is an excellent action game to hunt and gather on digital islands with, encumbered by a flaw that is most certainly not the graphics or game world design, both of which are extraordinary.

More about this soon, which reminds me I should tell you that you can subscribe to the Hypertexthero mailing list to receive a weekly email with the links and articles published here.

Até logo!

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