Training and Safety
Fighter pilots aren’t all that different from the rest of us in the general aviation world. They love flying, follow checklists, and even make a few mistakes—and they learn from those mistakes just like we do. Larry Brown of Colorado Springs, Colo., is a retired Air Force F-15 pilot who is using the lessons he learned as a fighter pilot as a GA pilot in his Cessna P210. Brown, who has 2,600 hours total time during his 32 years of flying, also was an instructor pilot and flight examiner in the Air Force T-38 and instructor pilot in the T-52, the military’s version of GA’s Diamond DA40. In this biweekly series, he shares his personal experiences and lessons learned to help all of us become better pilots.
With an F-5 locked on his six, an F-15 pilot must decide between turning away from a multi-ship dogfight to shake the F-5 or join the fight.
An F-15 pilot must rejoin with his formation team after a delayed start because of a maintenance issue. Find out how the lessons he learned on that mission can prepare you for fly-ins this spring and summer.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a high oil-temperature reading, an experienced F-15 pilot learns you can really never know enough.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Aside from drag devices, fighters also have the option of performing a low-power but high-G descending spiral to keep the airspeed under control while making a rapid descent. But, alas, not all of these options are available in general aviation airplanes. From cruise at 8,000 feet to 12,000 feet msl, would you consider ripping your throttle to idle to expedite your descent?
Turning final as the No. 2 ship in an F-15 formation, pilot Larry Brown realized they had a big problem: The sun blinded them from seeing the runway.
A quiet, VFR flight from Okinawa, Japan, to Osan, Korea, in an F-15 quickly turns hectic as the weather deteriorates at the destination. A mad scramble to review instrument approaches and set up the navigation radios gave fighter pilot Larry Brown a few lessons in planning ahead - something he does to this day in his Cessna P210.
With its bubble canopy, the visibility from the cockpit of an F-15 is awesome. But you can't see directly underneath the jet. An F-15 instructor teaches that after a sustained turn for more than 180 degrees, it's time for a belly check.
On a 3,800-mile flight from Brisbane, Australia, to Okinawa, Japan, F-15C pilot Larry Brown worried that he'd have to make an embarrassing radio call to his flight lead: He was flying with his knees while he tried to free his right hand, which had gotten stuck beside his seat.