Monday, October 13, 2014

Back at the keyboard, I am…

Some have said that they missed my musings. Here's one I wrote as a part of my life story, "Black and White,and other ways to think that got me in and out of trouble". I can't remember now how accurate the numbers are. They are impressive though, so why not believe them?

 The Phantom is capable of going straight up, for some time. It’s not as powerful as some of the birds of this modern day, but to be able to fly in something that literally took your breath away the first time you ever flew it, was something. When I was an I.P. at George AFB, everything always started out  with that introductory ride when the new student was given the stick for the first time. Granted, he had been in the simulator for his mandatory four or five “transition rides” - general airplane stuff, instruments, emergencies, etc. He had some idea of the capabilities of the plane, but when you sit down in the actual, good smelling, slightly awkward fitting cockpit for the first time you are in awe. Of course the engines start without incident (they never do in the simulator!) and that gives you a feeling that there may be a future in this business.

A side note. After simulator training, with all of the emergencies and stuff being thrown at you constantly from beginning to end of the session, it seems almost surreal to sit in the real plane and just start the engines and taxi without something happening. You are so primed for emergency procedures that normal stuff seems like a piece of cake. Maybe that’s what they ‘re thinking about when they made the training syllabus!

 Anyway, the worse thing that can happen on one of these first rides is that you think you need more power than you do to taxi, and soon you’re going thirty miles an hour or something down the taxi way. While you’re taxiing, you kind of melt into the airplane and begin to use the bird for what you want. It can become (with time) an extension of your will and in the best of times, actual manipulation of the controls is never considered. (“Go with the force, Luke!”) Again, I digress.

SO you have this newbie (other names often used, but I've been told that families read this stuff) on his first ride and your ready for take off in this airplane that has more thrust than weight (think about it). So you run up the engines, get a final OK from the tower and slam the throttles up to one hundred percent (no worries about over temping with the new fuel control mechanism), release the brakes and as soon as you begin to roll, push past the slight detent on the throttle track and mash the levers home. Goodness, that’s a strange way of putting it, wouldn’t you say? Anyway, don’t hurt your knuckles on the firewall as you go into full burner. By the time you’ve even thought of this, you’re at eighty knots and trying to remember to let go on nose wheel steering. Pull the stick full aft and wait (not long) for the airplane to take off.  It seems like you are immediately airborne and accelerating at an unimaginable rate (remember, this is 1964). OK, next thing is to retract the gear before you go over the limit speed of something near two hundred and twenty or so and get the flaps up, if you’ve used them. The Phantom was able to make an immelmann turn (a one hundred eighty degree vertical maneuver) at takeoff in this clean configuration. This was something that seemed to please all enlisted personnel and officers, Captain and below, but really pissed off those who were Majors and above. Must have something to do with staff briefings, or something. Anyway, the reason I’m belaboring all of this is because the guy on his first ride is still back there, thinking about releasing the brakes.

On the mach two run demonstration we’d do, we just climbed the airplane out at full burner and go as high you’d like within the tactical area limitations, then at about forty thousand or so (as I recall), we’d be over Ft Irwin and head for Edwards Air Force Base, all the while in burner. You let the airplane descend ever so slightly and you’d be at mach 1.6 accelerating. At mach 1.8, things slowed down a bit in terms of acceleration, but then the variable air inlet ramp would start its programmed movement to adjust the intake air to the engines and boom, boom (literally) you’d be at mach two, plus. You could observe the shock wave moving back across the canopy and skin of the plane. When it got to the static port which controlled the intakes, they would begin to close, somehow decreasing drag and increasing thrust, I guess. There was little sensation of going so fast. You were high up and the ground didn’t whizz by nearly as fast as when you were at one hundred feet or so at a mere five hundred knots. The only thing that whizzed was the ground speed indicator - maybe sixteen hundred and the DME of the Edwards TACAN.

One of the goals of the hop was to demonstrate what’s know as “Q force” and its presence at high speeds. You wouldn’t want to be able to move control surfaces quickly or to  full deflection, you’d tear the airplane apart. There was a pitot based limiter that prevented ham fisted pilots from killing themselves at high speeds like this. The student was told to put the airplane in a sixty degree banked turn and pull as hard as he could. No one was strong enough to make a tight turn. It was a good demonstration, the turn radius at that speed was probably twenty miles or more. One time, a young stud of mine used only thirty degrees of bank in the turn and most of that energy was converted to altitude. This is not a good thing when you’re already at forty thousand or more, and you don’t have an astronaut’s suit on. You do learn though, that speed equals altitude and altitude equals speed. There is energy in every flight condition and the idea is to learn how to manipulate this energy so you get what you want when and where you want it. All this to say that it works in Phantoms and it works in Boeing 737’s.

6 comments:

Murphy's Law said...

Keep these posts coming and I'll keep coming back!

OldAFSarge said...

Welcome back Dave!

Sierra Hotel!

juvat said...

Excellent,Dave! Unfortunately, by the time I got to the F-4, there was so much crap hanging off of it, that Mach 2 was not even a possibility. I do remember talking about some of that though.

virgil xenophon said...

LOL. I remember my first "fast ride" in an F-4 and was enjoying myself and the scenery when the intake ramps closed BANG....it sacred the shit out of me..."what was THAT?" lol.

virgil xenophon said...

*meant to say "ramps extended" aging brain syndrome..

Dave's Daily Day Dream said...

Some said "closed" some said "open". Fun to watch them move.