Fly Like a Fighter

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Fly like a fighter: Lessons learned from 400-knot overtake

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 10 08

An Air Force student egged on by his instructor overtakes the three-ship he is supposed to join at 400 knots. Find out why he urges pilots to, "Set your limits and stick to them, even if you have a cheering section inside (or outside) of your airplane."

Fly like a fighter: Inner voice

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 09 08

An Air Force pilot offered the opportunity to fly a risky show with the Italian Frecce Tricolori air demonstration team had a choice to make: Fly with them in an airshow or go out with an Air Force nurse he had just met. Something inside told him to go with the nurse. During the airshow, the demonstration team suffered a midair collision.

Fly like a fighter: O say, can you see?

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 08 04

On his first lesson in defensive dogfighting in an F-15B, an Air Force pilots learns that stepping up to the new aircraft is harder than he thought. In a 7-G turn at 420 knots, he couldn't lift his head to look outside the cockpit, forcing him to fly blind off his instructor's commands.

Fly like a fighter: Are you ready for a systems failure in IFR?

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 07 07

With warnings of a looming systems failure in a T-38A, an Air Force instructor weighs his options for getting the aircraft safely on the ground under instrument conditions.

Fly like a fighter: Lessons learned from a fatal bailout

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 06 17

Could the time-tested fighter pilot saying, “lose sight, lose the fight,” have misled a pilot to improperly strap in an RF-4 and contributed to his drowning after a successful ejection over the ocean?

Fly like a fighter: ‘Bail out, bail out, bail out’

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 05 05

A training engagement between an F-15 and two RF-4Cs goes terribly wrong when the F-4 pilot uses ailerons to roll left and see the F-15. The jet immediately departs controlled flight.

Fly like a fighter: Gunshot

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 04 07

How can learning how an F-15 pilot uses a gunsight help make you a more precise pilot? Retired Air Force pilot Larry Brown explains.

Fly like a fighter: Missile shot

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 03 07

With a closing speed of about 900 knots, Air Force pilots on a training mission have seconds to aim and shoot heat-seeking and radar guided missiles at a drone target. Their success came from repeated rehearsals. But as author Larry Brown writes, “there is nothing like the real thing to gain experience.”

Fly like a fighter: Circling approach

Fly like a fighter | 2014, 01 08

After a practice circling approach in an F-15, an Air Force pilot receives a call from the tower to “call the commander.” The pilot worries what he’s in for as visions run through his head of the Top Gun scene where Maverick and Goose are reprimanded for their tower fly-by.

Fly like a fighter: Radio silence

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 12 03

Your mission: Fly with eight F-15s to the Philippines, rejoin, refuel with air tankers, engage an unknown number of Red Air fighters, refuel again, and then return home to Okinawa. And fly with radio silence up to the first contact with the Red Air fighters.

Fly like a fighter: Tackle snarling crosswinds

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 11 04

Variable gusting winds can force a runway change on short notice. Pilots should be prepared to switch runways even on short final, as retired Air Force fighter pilot Larry Brown recounts from his training at the Air Force Academy.

Fly like a fighter: Lost wingman vertigo

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 10 07

Rolling out on a 15 mile final, the T-38 instructor-in-training lost sight of the lead aircraft three feet to his left in clouds.

Fly like a fighter: A humbling situation

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 09 09

With unforecast crosswinds at the destination airport that exceeded landing limitations, an Air Force pilot found himself stuck in a military trainer without a backup plan.

Fly like a fighter: Don’t let your guard down

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 08 20

When a group of fighters let their guard down on a training mission, their counterparts attacked with such force the mission lasted just 3.5 minutes. "Negative contact" in the military doesn't mean fighter pilots can relax, and a silent CTAF at an airport doesn't mean you can let your guard down either.

Fly like a fighter: Join the gaggle

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 04 04

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, flying the F-15 I made periodic trips to the Philippines to fly in Cope Thunder exercises—the Pacific version of Red Flag. They would schedule up to 70 aircraft in a very dynamic war training event with airplanes split Blue Air against Red Air.

Fly like a fighter: Predicting the weather based on patterns

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 03 01

Learning local weather patterns can make it easier for you to make a go/no-go decision, whether in an F-15 or Cessna P210.

Fly like a fighter: F-15s, a taxicab, and a road grader

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 02 04

A 90-minute flight in an F-15 turns into a 10-hour ordeal culminating with a ride home in a 35,000-pound road grader.

Fly like a fighter: IFR in the cockpit

Fly like a fighter | 2013, 01 08

In the blink of an eye, everything in the cockpit of the T-38 fogged up. Accelerating through 80 knots, an instructor and his student were faced with a dilemma: conduct a high-speed abort into the grass, or continue the takeoff, flying blind?

Fly like a fighter: ‘To pee or not to pee’

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 12 17

The use of “piddle packs” in the cockpit has led to some entertaining mishaps in the F-16. In general aviation, it might just drive your passengers away.

Fly like a fighter: Dogfight's line-of-sight secret

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 12 06

With a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1:1, the F-15 performs amazingly in a dogfight. But there are some secrets the pilot needs to take to come out of the dogfight safely.

Fly like a fighter: Blown tire

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 11 20

A slight yaw to the right was the only indication of a larger problem during a formation touchdown in a T-38. Find out how quick action saved the day.

Fly like a fighter: Backup to the backup

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 11 02

Approaching bingo fuel and unable to return to home base or the planned alternate, this T-38 instructor had little time to find another backup to set the bird down.

Fly like a fighter: Zero airspeed

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 10 19

Three minutes after scrambling for a training mission, an F-15 pilot is on the runway, afterburners lit for takeoff. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot notices his airspeed indicator is reading zero instead of the anticipated 120 knots.

Fly like a fighter: Nighttime challenges, rewards

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 10 09

Starry nights are a reward for pilots who are night current, but night flying also presents unique demands. In this F-15 pilot's case: a night refueling mission in the clouds.

Fly like a fighter: Fill your brain

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 09 24

After a high oil-temperature reading, an experienced F-15 pilot learns you can really never know enough.

Fly like a fighter: F-15s fall from the sky

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 09 12

A five-ship of F-15s was cleared to climb to FL390. Loaded with three external fuel tanks, would the aircraft make it? A pilot comes to a practical understanding of absolute ceiling.

Fly like a fighter: Mountain flying

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 08 28

Anytime you can fly at an airspeed of 400 knots in an airplane it is a rush. When you do it at 500 feet agl, the thrill is even greater. And when that 500 feet agl includes mountain walls and peaks surrounding your military jet, it turns into an event of a lifetime.

Fly like a fighter: No brakes

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 08 10

The landing rollout isn't the best time to discover a loss of brakes in an F-15. Find out if this former Air Force pilot was able to get the jet stopped and how he applies the lesson to flying his GA aircraft.

Fly like a fighter: Minimum fuel

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 08 01

The F-15 can burn through an amazing amount of fuel in a short amount of time. In the dense air at sea level with maximum afterburner selected and at high speed, the total fuel flow can be more than 23,000 gallons per hour, or 385 gallons per minute.

Fly like a fighter: INS inop

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 07 18

When the inertial navigation system of his F-15 told him he was 40 miles north of his actual location, an Air Force pilot had to revert to the old standby of navigation: He had to look out the window.

Fly like a fighter: Engine shutdown

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 06 29

With the F-15's right engine oil pressure gauge reading dangerously low, the pilot faced a decision to continue, hoping the gauge was faulty, or shut down the engine as a precaution. Time to run through those emergency procedures.

Fly like a fighter: Panic moves

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 06 19

Everyone is familiar with the panic stop in a car--right foot off the gas and stomp on the brake pedal. There are a few instant moves for an airplane that all of us should have in our memory for quick recall.

Fly like a fighter: Voices in the cockpit

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 06 05

On takeoff roll, an Air Force pilot rapidly accelerates down the runway with the afterburners lit. Soon he hears, from somewhere, "60 knots...80 knots..." Confused, the pilot starts to pull the throttles to idle to abort the takeoff.

Fly like a fighter: Backseat landings

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 05 21

Backseat landings in a T-38 are a challenge. Backseat no-flap landings in a T-38 without any crosswind are even worse--you can't see the runway directly ahead of you on approach.

Fly like a fighter: Weird wind

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 05 07

An aircraft cleared for takeoff took a little longer on the takeoff roll, but after becoming airborne, it climbed to 30 feet agl and leveled off slightly. Then it stayed at 30 feet agl, passing the departure end of the runway and continuing at that low altitude for at least another half mile.

Fly like a fighter: Sinus block

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 04 24

No pilot in the Air Force ever enjoys being placed on DNIF (duties not to include flying) status. But sinus congestion can ground anyone. After being treated and checked, an Air Force pilot is cleared to fly again but experiences severe pain during a formation instrument approach at only 1,000 feet agl.

Fly like a Fighter: Crosswind controls

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 04 10

The Air Force Academy had guidance for the Diamond DA40 of maximum wind for takeoff (26 knots), maximum wind for landing (35 knots), and maximum wind for taxi operations (35 knots). Former Air Force instructor Larry Brown suggests all pilots should all have their own limits for the airplanes they fly.

Fly like a Fighter: Cross-controlled in tight formation

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 03 26

An Air Force student was doing a magnificent job of flying close formation, at night and in the weather, while cross-controlling a T-38 in a slip. When the instructor instructed him to get his right foot off the rudder, there was no response.

Fly like a Fighter: Which way is up?

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 03 13

After an uncontrolled snap roll, Air Force F-15 pilot Larry Brown finds his aircraft 40 degrees nose low, inverted, accelerating toward the ground. Enter the importance of upset recovery training.

Fly like a Fighter: To go or not to go?

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 02 27

Who aborts an F-15 during takeoff because of a lack of thrust? Retired Air Force F-15 pilot Larry Brown shares why he should have aborted a takeoff in which he used 6,000 feet of an 8,000-foot runway to get airborne.

Fly like a fighter: Cheers to the man on the mic

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 02 16

In early spring our squadron in Germany was sending 12 F-15s to Denmark to participate in a NATO flying exercise. The weather was overcast over Europe, and the forecast in Denmark was for low ceilings, poor visibility, and rain throughout the day. We scheduled three launches of four F-15s each spread apart by 20 minutes. I launched with the second group of four.

Fly like a fighter: Where'd my maps go?

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 02 01

A negative-G guns jink sprays maps, charts, and approach plates onto the top of retired Air Force pilot Larry Brown's F-15 canopy, teaching him a valuable lesson he adheres to today in his Cessna P210--even though he won't be doing any negative-G pushovers.

Fly like a fighter: A peek into space

Fly like a fighter | 2012, 01 19

After a zoom climb up to FL500, retired Air Force F-15 pilot Larry Brown looked toward the horizon and saw the curvature of the earth below, a small piece of blue sky above, and black above that.