blend file: https://webdisk.ucalgary.ca/~djetowns/public_html/misc_files/afterburner_4.blend
I realized that you don’t have to do the entire plume in one particle system. This effect uses three systems: one for the main plume, another for the shock diamonds, and a third for streak effects.
The shock diamonds / mach disks have a cyclic extrapolation IPO on their halo size, and also have a procedural magic texture with a colourband applied, as well as have ‘star’ on.
Some things I want to try:
Create ‘negative zones’ offset exactly from the ‘positive zones’ as seen in pictures like http://www.spl.ch/gallery/pics/DSC03448_800x600.jpg
Make the tail flicker.
Take better advantage of the new particle system, possibly including support for arbitrary durations.
Better effects upon startup/shutdown.