Category Archives: Flying

Bonus Aircraft

By lex, on June 6th, 2011

A Pakistani Air Force F-16 pilot on exchange with the Turkish Air Force gives some interesting insights into the PAF’s procurement and tactical strategies: *

Q 16: Any memorable experiences that you would like to share?

A: On one occasion – in one of the international Anatolian Eagles – PAF pilots were pitted against RAF Typhoons, a formidable aircraft. There were three set-ups and in all three, we shot down the Typhoons. The RAF pilots were shocked.

Q 17: Any particular reason for your success?

A: NATO pilots are not that proficient in close-in air-to-air combat. They are trained for BVR engagements and their tactics are based on BVR engagements. These were close-in air combat exercises and we had the upper hand because close-in air combat is drilled into every PAF pilot and this is something we are very good at.

An interesting comment indeed.

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Deep Stall

By lex, on May 31st, 2011

On the weekend gig, I introduce the guest pilots to the notion of aerodynamic stall. Some of them get a gleam of fear in their eyes when they hear the word “stall”, because they invariably think it is ineluctably linked with “spin, crash and die.” Which can be true, but isn’t necessarily so: Learning how to stall and recover an airplane is one of the first things the novice aviator is taught, and it is re-learned in every aircraft transition.

When I brief my civvie passengers on weekend dogfight hops – that’s not a Michael Vick dance variation, by the way – I try to explain to them the relationship between stick position and angle-of-attack: “If you push the stick forward, the houses get bigger. If you pull stick aft, the houses get smaller. If you keep pulling aft on the stick, the houses start getting bigger again.”

Note to Air France: I’m available for consultative work.

Point.enquete.af447.27mai2011.En

I get that the weather was rough. I understand that the compound emergency and loss of normal displays was confusing. I suspect that in their peril, the pilots were left to wonder whether some strange software gremlin had suddenly rendered their aircraft un-flyable.

But – and this is not to beat a dead horse – I really don’t understand how no one among three very experienced and highly trained airline transport pilots ever figured out that it was worth a try to lower the nose and reduce the angle of attack. Maybe get some airflow over the wings.

Stall warnings coupled with wing rock are classic indications of deep stall, and if what you’re doing isn’t working it’s time to consider something else.

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Reno Air Races 2017

Over the years, I have accrued a number of nice memories of the Reno Air Races. I’ve met “Pappy” Boyington, Bob Hoover, and seen things that can’t be seen anywhere else.

I have a print I bought from Major Boyington signed – in 1984. I read his autobiography – he had a terrible time in the Japanese concentration camp (it should go without saying) and post war, an awful time. But he pulled through. He’s at Arlington, now.

One thing has changed – well, a number of things. For one, the “Unlimiteds” have become so fast the starter plane changed from a yellow Mustang – piloted by Bob Hoover, to a T-33 jet. They have an L-39 class now – that ubiquitous Czech trainer that the wealthy have embraced. That Merlin – stock was 1,500 hp, is over 3,500 now.

If you go there a pit pass is almost mandatory – you wander among all these magnificent planes.

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Helo Solo

By lex, on May 20th, 2011

SNO sends this pic of his first fling-wing solo.Which is apparently performed with another student in the left seat, and never mind the “watch this!” factor. And which seat is also apparently the copilot’s seat in a helicopter. Because of Physics, or some such. Or torque.

Perhaps both, in some mystical combination.

Helo Solo

It’s a wee, bitty thing, that TH-57. I think I just sprouted (another) gray hair. Which I’ve precious few of the other kind remaining, so thanks boy-o.

And congrats.

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Whisper: Mach Loop

By Whisper, on May 8th, 2011

I don’t know when I first heard of the Mach Loop, but odds are it was while surfing plane prOn over at Theo Spark’s place.

Let us start this story by saying that the Brits like to fly low.  Here in the States, we define low-level or “VR” routes as a series of points laid-out to avoid obstructions and populated areas.  In the UK, they have “Low Flying Areas”.  LFAs = Brilliant.

Whisper Mach loop

Thurman over Scotland, June 2004.

In 2004 I had the opportunity to participate in a Joint Maritime Course, or JMC, while embarked in Enterprise.  We mostly flew over the north of Scotland, bombed some rock off the coast, and looked for Nessy from overhead her Loch at 500 feet.  We were limited to no lower than 500 feet because some Strike Eagle guys had recently caused an international incident by blowing someone off of a horse.  Thanks zoomies.  Flying along at the nose-bleed altitude of 500′,  it was common to be intercepted by RAF Tornadoes in a low-to-high fashion.  (It is assumed that air-to-air training rules have been briefed when operating in the LFAs.)

In preparation for participating in the upcoming Saxon Warrior exercise, I’ve been brushing-up on the procedures for operating in Her Majesty’s airspace.  Imagine my delight when it was discovered that Low Flying Area 07 is scheduled for use during the exercise.  LFA 07, you see,  is home to the Mach Loop, a world famous low level route.  There is even a group of photography aficionados that have dedicated a website to promoting it.  So why is it called the Mach Loop?  (No Mav, we will not be supersonic.)

The Mach Loop is a set of valleys, situated between Dolgellau (pronounced ‘Dol-geth-lie’) in the north, and Machylleth (pronounced ‘Mah-hunth-leth’) in the south (and from which the Mach Loop gets its name), which are regularly used for low level flight training, with flying as low as 250 feet (76 metres) from the nearest terrain.

Should be a good time.  The citizens of Wales have been warned, but it’s the folks in Portsmouth that seem to need the advance notice.

 

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Porterville

By lex, on May 1st, 2011

So, last Sunday a former shipmate from USS Last Ship turned Certificated Flight Instructor – he’d been an ensign involuntarily released from flight school and spending a year or several waiting to see what the Navy would do with him – hit me up on email asking whether I’d be interested in flying up to KPTV in a rented Debonair for to meet and mix with the Red Star set. Your man is a good egg for all his previous misfortunes, had checked me out in a Beech Duchess when I was keen to refresh my multi-engine skills, and I always had admired his will to land at his destination regardless of the obstacles placed in his path, so I said, “Maybe.”

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Porterville II

By lex, on May 2nd, 2011

Because you’re dying, in the midst of all these international bewilderments, to know how that landing turned out.

So, anyway, your man had the aircraft wrapped up in a more or less continuous turn from the break, though downwind, to base, to final. Which is all well and good in the hands of  an FA-18 jock doing his sh!t hot thing behind the ship, but then hizzoner wouldn’t have 1) me sitting in his trunk without, 2) an ejection seat, worse came to worst. We overshot final, like I knew we might, and the guy in front said, “lined up for to land on the right side of the runway” like it was the most natural thing in the world, what with no one to share the left side with and I had to admire his chutzpah.

Rolled out, taxied in and shut her down in the grass before clambering down to figger what was what.

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