Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 73 / JUNE 1986 / PAGE 71

Kennedy Approach
For Commodore And Atari

David and Robin Minnick

Requirements: Commodore 64 or 128 (in 64 mode), or an Atari 400/800, XL, or XE with at least 48K RAM. Disk drive and joystick also required. The Commodore version was reviewed.

It's 10:53 a.m.
    You're in the midst of your second shift as an air traffic controller. Six flights await your clearance for takeoff. Five more are waiting to land. Compounding your headache are a thunder-storm approaching from the west and the Concorde approaching from the east.
    Suddenly you hear, "This is United 101. Emergency! Eight minutes fuel!" The Concorde moves at eight miles every minute. Within two minutes the planes will be at a point of intersection. Unless United 101 gets on the ground fast, lives will be lost.
    Your palms begin to sweat.
    "United 101. Turn left, heading 90 degrees. Descend to 3,000 feet. Air France 314. Hold right at VDR at 5000 feet."
    Oh no! you think, staring at the screen. I forgot Delta 626 coming in at the same altitude!
    The conflict buzzer sounds.
    Your spouse looks up from the couch. "Could you please turn that thing down?"

It's Just A Simulation
This is Kennedy Approach, an air traffic control simulation from Micro Prose. It puts you in the seat of an air traffic controller in one of five U.S. cities. Each airport presents you with skill levels ranging from 1 (Atlanta-a challenging beginning) to 5 (New York City-no margin for error).
    In Kennedy Approach, you work a shift of approximately ten minutes realtime, longer at the higher levels. At the end of your shift, your performance is evaluated and you're promoted, given a bonus, or fired. Additional options let you continue your career, see an instant replay, save your shift to resume playing later, or return to the main screen.
    It's only a simulation, a game, you tell yourself between shifts-but the sweat on your palms when you play Kennedy Approach is quite real.
    Keyboard or joystick controls are used to establish contact with a plane. Then the joystick is used to change its heading and/or altitude. A push of the fire button prompts an exchange of dialog between you and the pilot. Probably the most delightful feature of the program is the use of digitized voices for this exchange. This is software-driven speech synthesis from Electronics Speech Systems. The dialogs have the quality of genuine "black box" air traffic recordings.

Kennedy Approach- Commodore Version
Keeping the friendly skies friendly is a
frenzied job in Kennedy Approach, an
air traffic control simulation (Commo-
dore 64 version).

    The graphics overall are very good, particularly the thunderstorms, but a few effects require getting used to. The one representing a plane's location is somewhat confusing, and it's difficult at first to decipher the display of flight plans. Both these problems are conquered by familiarity.

Some Minor Quirks
There are a few quirks in Kennedy Approach. Planes start to wrap around the screen, a sight which can be disconcerting to the newly hired controller. Routing flights into a holding pattern is a lipbiting maneuver, as this requires you to press the fire button at the right moment while commands are sequentially displayed in the command line. This is the most difficult task in the program, and it seems that it could be accomplished more easily.
    Another oversight is that Kennedy Approach lacks a disk directory function for selecting which shift to retrieve.
    The instruction manual is superb in providing information about the air traffic control aspects of the simulation. This technical information allows even the beginner to feel familiar with the new environment. One small flaw, though: At one point the manual directs you to a nonexistent Section VI, leaving you to your ingenuity and experience to discover how to instruct the pilot to climb to the desired altitude at takeoff. (This is corrected in later editions of the manual. Users with early manuals should refer to B-3 instead of Section VI.)
    Despite these small problems - they're the only ones we found and are minor compared to the whole package-Kennedy Approach is a fascinating, well-designed simulation for someone who wants to get a taste of what air traffic controllers do all day (and night). More simulation than game, it still elicits game-type responses. If you judge a game by how it affects your psyche, by how excited you get, and by how nervous it makes you, Kennedy Approach gets a clammy hands rating of 9 out of a possible 10.

Kennedy Approach
Micro Prose Software
120 Lakefront Drive
Hunt Valley, MD 21030