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Old 08-01-2020, 04:48 PM
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Default Fighter training, the F16, and a math/physics question

I live in a corridor right between an Air National Guard unit, the 180th Fighter Wing, and Wright Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton. Consequently I get to hear these fellows fly over quite often, especially when they are doing training maneuvers, which are very often right overhead. They still use the F16 as far as I know(one flew right out of a cloud last year when I was watching off my front porch). Some years ago I got to see the Thunderbirds who, at that time at least, were using the F16 as well. I remember being very impressed with the maneuverability of the plane.

Anyway I got curious the other night and thought I would look up the specs. I noted that the weight of the plane was listed at 37,500 lb, and the thrust of the engine was listed at 27,000 lb.

Since I'm not accomplished in math and science, and know that many of you are, I thought I would ask a question here. In my simple but faulty thinking, it seemed to me that thrust would have to exceed the weight of the plane in order for it to do what it is called upon to do(especially execute a vertical climb). Educate me here; what do I need to know?

Thank you, friends.
Andy
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:00 PM
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Neither a pilot nor an engineer, but I was curious and looked it up. According to Wikipedia, the empty weight of the F16 is 18,000lbs, the gross weight is 26,500lbs, and the thrust is just over 29,000lbs, depending on the engine. So it's conceivable for the thrust-to-weight ratio to be greater than 1, allowing for vertical climbing.

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon - Wikipedia (Specs are at the bottom of the page.)
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:10 PM
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How about that. I just typed in "f16 specs", and was given the figures in the first post -apparently some of Wikipedia's contributors erred. The specs you gave are much more detailed and extensive; I would sooner believe those.

Thanks for the response.
Andy
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:14 PM
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You have to remember that the wing provides considerable lift. A light plane weighing 1600 pounds can still got over 100 knots with a 145 hp engine. You can hand push your 2000 pound boat when it is in the water.
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:34 PM
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As time allows, check out the new Boeing F-15EX ..... What a fighter this bad boy is!
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:36 PM
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If a F-16 transitions from high-speed horizontal flight to an upward trajectory, there is considerable inertia assisting it to climb. Also, using the afterburner would add additional thrust.

I once saw an F-15 do exactly that. It went into a vertical climb with afterburners lit up and it went nearly out of sight.
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Old 08-01-2020, 06:08 PM
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The Thunderbirds run their airplanes light, so they probably have a thrust to weight ratio in excess of one. A mission loaded F-16 is not so lucky. The F-15C does exceed one (just) at a gross weight of 44,500 lbs and thrust of 23,500 lb x 2.
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Old 08-01-2020, 06:16 PM
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I've always taken it all on faith. I remember reading that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly, either!
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Old 08-01-2020, 06:49 PM
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Iím a horrible physics teacher, but as has been indicated already, pounds of thrust and pounds of weight are not in any linear, direct relationship. The thrust translates into forward speed which generates lift via the airfoil shape of the wings. A plane is not a rocket, where the thrust lifts the craft directly.

A single-pilot glider produces no thrust at all, usually weighs between 500 and 1000 lbs. and still flies just using gravity, and thermals for climbing.

PS: Apparently the F-15 was the first plane with sufficient thrust to sustain and accelerate in a vertical climb. In that particular situation, the engines have to function like a rocket and be able to lift the planeís weight. Earlier jets had to zoom-climb, that is, use momentum and trade speed for altitude as they climbed vertically, eventually topping out.

Iíd imagine thatís what they still do if their actual weight exceeds their available thrust, due to fuel or weapons load.

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Old 08-01-2020, 06:51 PM
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One of the requirements of the Air Force using the F-16 for the Thunderbirds was the planes could be capable of being returned to service almost immediately. The only difference between a in-service A/C and a T-Bird is the ammo drum on production A/C was removed and replaced with a specially designed fuel bladder. The drum can be replaced very quickly. The wings, although still IR (interchangeable/replaceable) are as close to perfect as production allows. A special wing assembly line was formed using the most qualified, experienced employees. We're almost talking zero defects here. Otherwise, the planes are the same.
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Old 08-01-2020, 06:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkittine View Post
You have to remember that the wing provides considerable lift. A light plane weighing 1600 pounds can still got over 100 knots with a 145 hp engine. You can hand push your 2000 pound boat when it is in the water.
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Iím a horrible physics teacher, but as has been indicated already, pounds of thrust and pounds of weight are not in any linear, direct relationship. The thrust translates into forward speed which generates lift via the airfoil shape of the wings. A plane is not a rocket, where the thrust lifts the craft directly.

A single-pilot glider produces no thrust at all, usually weighs between 500 and 1000 lbs. and still flies just using gravity, and thermals for climbing.
Except OP is asking about vertical climbing. In that case, the F16 is going to be more like a rocket than a plane, and thrust-to-weight is going to be a lot more important than the lift of the wings.
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:37 PM
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Seems to me I read somewhere that the F15 was the first plane — only plane? — to break the sound barrier going straight up. (Must be a mighty sporty ride!)
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:51 PM
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I grabbed this from the web:

TWR or T/W ratio = (Max Thrust of Engine[s] / (Empty Weight + (3.505 Tonnes of Fuel & Weapons, or only Internal Fuel)))

1.30 - Su-35S
1.29 - F-15K
1.26 - Su-27S
1.25 - Eurofighter
1.24 - Mig-35 (T/W = 1.45 during Emergency Thrust*)
1.23 - Su-27SK & J-11A
1.19 - Mig-29M/M2 (T/W = 1.39 during Emergency Thrust*)
1.19 - F-15C
1.18 - F-22A (T/W = 1.37 with Round nozzles?)
1.16 - Su-30MKK

1.16 - Rafale C
1.16 - F-35A
1.15 - Mig-29B (9-12)
1.14 - Su-30MKI (T/W = 1.21 during Emergency Thrust@)
1.13 - Mig-29 (9-13), S, SD, SE & SM
1.11 - F/A-18E (F/A-18F: 1.09)
1.10 - Rafale M
1.10 - Mig-29 BM & SMT (T/W = 1.15 during Emergency Thrust*)
1.09 - F-16E Block 60
1.09 - Mig-29K (T/W = 1.28 during Emergency Thrust*)
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Old 08-01-2020, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
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Except OP is asking about vertical climbing. In that case, the F16 is going to be more like a rocket than a plane, and thrust-to-weight is going to be a lot more important than the lift of the wings.

Correct. I should have been clearer. One of the things that I appreciated so much about the Thunderbirds' show was their emphasis in demonstrating, not just their ability as pilots to perform daredevil maneuvers, but also the capabilities of the plane itself.

I remember distinctly when I watched the Thunderbirds' show that one of them performed the vertical climb exactly as outlined by Absalom in describing the F15. The show was over Lake Michigan, and he came in from the north at low to moderate speed, pointed the thing up right in front of us and drew the rear end directly underneath him so he was nearly perpendicular to the surface of the water. Then he put the hammer down so to speak and flew straight up(with a bit of a spiral movement) into the clouds.

Coincidentally, one of the men in our group said to his son while observing this maneuver, "It's no longer a plane; it's a rocket." So the F16 appears to have that capability, without assistance from horizontal momentum or the wing. The clouds were high that day; he wasn't much more than a dot by the time he completed his climb. Momentum would have been exhausted, I would think, long before he leveled off.

So I'm guessing that the afterburner made the difference. Anyone know roughly how much thrust, percentage-wise, those things add to the equation?

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Andy
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Old 08-01-2020, 09:18 PM
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Depending on the aircraft/engine combinations, ďZone 5Ē Afterburner (J79 engines in F-4 Phantom) can add close to 40% more thrust. And you can also watch your fuel gauge drop to near zero, thereby making the aircraft lighter which in turn improves your Thrust to Weight ratio which then increases your acceleration which then...............
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:15 AM
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With full afterburners I could climb an F4C vertically for a brief period using initial momentum to help. Would be interesting to see which current aircraft could launch vertically from a stationary vertical support as a missal would.

Bob
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:44 PM
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All you need is thrust.

Zero-length launch - Wikipedia
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Old 08-02-2020, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rkittine View Post
You have to remember that the wing provides considerable lift.
Except that an F-16 wing provides very little lift.

The OP's info on weight and thrust is wrong. The F-16 definitely produces more thrust than it has in weight. If it didn't it wouldn't fly at all.

The F-16 has almost no glide ability. If the engine dies and cannot be restarted, the pilot must eject. The plane cannot be glided to the ground; it just falls.

The wings on an F-16 are configurable. The amount of lift can be adjusted. The leading edge of an F-16 is variable and can actually create a negative lift situation which is why it can fly upside down almost as easily as right side up.

The plane that's really impressive is the F-22. It has a thrust to weight ratio of 1:1 at cruise and 1:1.25 at full AB. Add the vectored exhaust and it's beyond amazing. The F-35 is not as powerful as the F-16, but has more capability.

I feel fortunate that I can see these planes fly regularly. It's an air show every day where I work.
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Old 08-02-2020, 03:11 PM
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The OP's info on weight and thrust is wrong. The F-16 definitely produces more thrust than it has in weight. If it didn't it wouldn't fly at all.
Ah, so my thinking was correct; thank you. I had heard that Wikipedia's information wasn't always to be trusted, but this is the first time I've run across a definite error.

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The plane that's really impressive is the F-22. It has a thrust to weight ratio of 1:1 at cruise and 1:1.25 at full AB.
So "1" is actually the greater quantity in "1:1.25"?


Thanks,
Andy
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Old 08-02-2020, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
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Ah, so my thinking was correct; thank you. I had heard that Wikipedia's information wasn't always to be trusted, but this is the first time I've run across a definite error.



So "1" is actually the greater quantity in "1:1.25"?


Thanks,
Andy
Those proportionalities are the wrong way round for me. I would say that 1 should always be the second item, so the F-22 thrust-to-weight ratio is 1.25:1.

I'm also thinking that Rastoff has got lift and thrust mixed up a little. Also, thrust to weight will change dues to weapon and fuel load. For sure the ones that come out of Nellis fully equipped with multiple tanks and stores aren't going up as quick as the Thunderbirds during practice.

As for the glide capabilities of the F-16, pretty much all jets from the 60s on have the glide characteristic of a brick. The F-16 is likely handicapped by its very unstable design. If the motor goes down and takes the fly-by-wire system with it, it becomes a falling leaf in short order.
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Old 08-02-2020, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
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Except that an F-16 wing provides very little lift.
......
The F-16 has almost no glide ability. If the engine dies and cannot be restarted, the pilot must eject. The plane cannot be glided to the ground; it just falls.

...
Sorry, that is simply incorrect.

Here is a fairly famous video from 1996:

Air National Guard Capt. Chris Rose making a deadstick landing (no engine) at Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station in an F-16.

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Old 08-02-2020, 04:27 PM
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The reason that such a high percentage of fighter jet engine failures result in the pilots ejecting has nothing to with the planes not being able to glide. They glide just as they fly under power (assuming functioning control surfaces).

But their glide speed and necessary landing speed is so high that a survivable off-runway touchdown is pretty much impossible. So to glide to a landing, you have to have a long-enough runway within a reachable gliding distance, as in the video above.
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Old 08-02-2020, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
If a F-16 transitions from high-speed horizontal flight to an upward trajectory, there is considerable inertia assisting it to climb. Also, using the afterburner would add additional thrust.

I once saw an F-15 do exactly that. It went into a vertical climb with afterburners lit up and it went nearly out of sight.
I live only about 50 miles from Andrews Air Force Base, outside of Washington, and used to take my sons almost every year to the annual air show there on Armed Forces Day. Every service branch was represented, and we got to see Harriers take off and land vertically...A-10s turn and bank and execute tight maneuvers...Tomcats come roaring over the field at low altitude...(and I do mean "roaring"...the ground shook!)...and F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s do that vertical climb...most impressive!

The photos below are from the 2006 show...and yes, that's an F-86 in the last photo...
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
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Except that an F-16 wing provides very little lift.

The OP's info on weight and thrust is wrong. The F-16 definitely produces more thrust than it has in weight. If it didn't it wouldn't fly at all.

The F-16 has almost no glide ability. If the engine dies and cannot be restarted, the pilot must eject. The plane cannot be glided to the ground; it just falls.
Huh? Thrust opposes drag and lift opposes gravity. Thrust to weight matters when thrust counters gravity (weight) as in a climb. Greater than 1:1 thrust to weight just means it can accelerate in a vertical climb. Suck that puppy back to idle in a practice precautionary approach and itíll fly just fine down to landing.

Lack of glide has more to do with operable flight controls. If itís fully fly by wire, engine failure leads to loss of electrical and hyds which leads to lawndart. It canít glide as far as a Cessna 172 but if it has emergency hyds with a wind turbine and doesnít require trons (think T-45 Goshawk) you can deadstick that in. Hornets and Warthogs have a mech backup while the Superhornet doesnít.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:04 PM
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It was advertised as have a greater than 1:1 thrust/weight ratio but I just took their word for it.

SOME planes may have a better than 1:1 ratio after they have burned of some fuel.

The Phantom was advertised as a Mach 2 plane but I don't think it ever got that if it was configured at all for fighting.
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Old 08-02-2020, 09:44 PM
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Fighter jets have large envelopes due to the various widgets that ďnormalĒ aircraft donít have. So what a modern fighter can or canít do depends a lot on the configuration and the actual weight. Just try to find something for an F-16 thatís relatively easy to determine for a C-172, like a clean stall speed and best glide speeds. The people who know what they are talking about will all tell you ďit dependsĒ.

But the video gives you an indication of the glide capability. If you listen to the radio comms, at the beginning he was at only 9000 ft and 7 miles from the airport. And he not only made it, but was able to maneuver for a proper centered approach.

I doubt youíd be able to do anything like that with a falling rock
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Old 08-05-2020, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
Sorry, that is simply incorrect.

Here is a fairly famous video from 1996:

Air National Guard Capt. Chris Rose making a deadstick landing (no engine) at Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station in an F-16.
I sit corrected. Never heard of that before and all the pilots I've talked to say it's virtually impossible. But hey, seeing is believing.

I wonder how he kept the hydraulics going? I was always under the impression they required external power or running engines to make it work. Without hydraulics, how did he get the gear down? It looks like a gear down landing.


Yes, I got my ratios backward, but the point is more power than weight. Some planes take off with a reduced fuel load and then refuel once airborne so they can carry more cargo/munitions.
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Old 08-05-2020, 06:11 PM
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I wonder how he kept the hydraulics going? I was always under the impression they required external power or running engines to make it work. Without hydraulics, how did he get the gear down?
If you listen to the radio, after the F-16 is on the ground the other pilots are talking about alerting the tower to the still-running EPU (Emergency Power Unit).

On an aviation forum I found this info, which Iím just pasting here:

ďThe F-16 does have backup systems. The aircraft battery will supply power for a couple minutes, depending on what all you're using. The hydraulic accumulators will provide hydraulic power for a minute or two, assuming you don't get too crazy. And the Emergency Power Unit (a small, monopropellant turbine in the right strake of the aircraft) will start promptly after losing the engine, providing electricity and hydraulic power for several minutes as necessary (the battery and accumulators keep you under control while it spins up). Ergo, if you lose the engine, you lose propulsion but you still have electricity and hydraulic power. So you can still maintain control of the airplane.ď
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:32 PM
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Ah yes, that makes sense. I forgot about the EPU. Different from an APU on larger aircraft. That would provide power to the hydraulics.
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Old 08-06-2020, 09:39 PM
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Drag, lift, down force, weight, momentum, aerodynamics and thrust, all combine to determine an aircraft's parameters.

All aircraft designs combine to find what they are. Development, research and human input and realization combine to find the "happy spot".
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:45 AM
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I wonder how he kept the hydraulics going? I was always under the impression they required external power or running engines to make it work. Without hydraulics, how did he get the gear down? It looks like a gear down landing.


Do fighters have RAT's any more? (Ram Air Turbine)
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:29 AM
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:55 AM
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Do fighters have RAT's any more? (Ram Air Turbine)
The F-14 didn't have a RAT. You could cross-bleed and turn an engine if needed. Worst case, you windmilled assuming things were not seized.

No RAT for any series of the FA-18/EA-18 either. You have the previous mentioned options, plus the addition of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). Of course the nicest thing about the APU is taking the jet on the road and not being restricted to bases with a huffer (start cart).

I'm ignorant of most things Air Force.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:37 AM
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I found this interesting article about the F-16ís EPU, specifically the hydrazine which is used in it.

This explains why the assisting pilot in the video advises the tower that the running EPU will require a ďfire responseĒ, which initially puzzled me.

Hydrazine: A Significant Hazard Each Time An F-16 Crashes (Or Fires Up The Emergency Power Unit) – The Aviationist
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Old 08-07-2020, 12:30 PM
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Yeah, hydrazine is no joke. When I worked at a calibration lab for the USAF we had to calibrate a hydrazine test set. It was always a big deal when it came in because it had to be purged a special way.

When that test set came in, if we smelled anything, seriously, anything, we all had to go to the flight surgeon. Fortunately, we never smelled anything when I worked there.
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Old 08-07-2020, 02:41 PM
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The F-14 didn't have a RAT. You could cross-bleed and turn an engine if needed. Worst case, you windmilled assuming things were not seized.

No RAT for any series of the FA-18/EA-18 either. You have the previous mentioned options, plus the addition of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). Of course the nicest thing about the APU is taking the jet on the road and not being restricted to bases with a huffer (start cart).

I'm ignorant of most things Air Force.

Thanks, my experience with military aircraft ended in 1973.
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Old 08-07-2020, 03:00 PM
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I do like the 51:1 Glide Ratio of my ASK-21 though. It has Zero power to weight ratio, but I still have had it up for over 30 hours once.

Bob
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Old 08-07-2020, 03:27 PM
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I do like the 51:1 Glide Ratio of my ASK-21 though. It has Zero power to weight ratio, but I still have had it up for over 30 hours once.

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Old 08-07-2020, 03:34 PM
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Who was at the controls while you were in the little boys room?


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Old 08-07-2020, 04:51 PM
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I've always taken it all on faith. I remember reading that bumblebees shouldn't be able to fly, either!
That's only claimed by people who don't understand how bumblebees fly.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:05 PM
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Rastoff has it right about the gliding ability of the F-16.
Hence its nickname: The Lawn Dart.
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