It changes! I was climbing out on my way back to Florida yesterday. At 10,000 feet I held the nose down to allow the airspeed to build. We were late and trying to make up time to get back on DOT schedule. At 330 knots indicated (10 knots below a redline of 340), I pushed the IAS button on the flight management system, the v-bars on my attitude reference would now hold my speed at 330 if I stayed in them. I reset the trim and thought “OK we are haulin’ ass now”. Then I laughed to my self; perspective. Before 13 August 1998 had I seen 330 on my airspeed indicater my reaction would have been exactly the opposite, “Uh Oh, I’m slow! I’m beat down to parade rest!”
The secret to fighting an air to air engagement, in a fighter or attack aircraft, is to get to corner speed and stay there, keep your lift vector on the bogey and just keep pulling. Corner speed, is simply the minimum airspeed you can pull maximum “g”, if you are in an 8 g fighter and it takes 425 knots indicated to pull 8 g’s, you have to stay at 425 to get max performance out of the wing. As you slow the ability to pull g decreases due to angle of attack requirements (more on AOA later). Over simplified, you don’t have enuff air over the wing to trade for pull. No speed, no pull, no pull no turn, no turn, no good. “Speed is life more is better!” (author unknown); unless you are in a turning fight and are over corner speed. That is called arcing, by being overspeed, for example 525 knots, you are able to pull 8 g’s, but the arc you make through the sky is bigger. Thus an opponent can turn inside your radius of turn and shoot you. You can trade the air speed for position (more on that later). The last part of the basics is keeping your lift vector on the bogey. If you are not pulling directly at him you are moving away from him. This will alow him manuver room and eventually the ability to put a weapon system in it’s envelpoe and shoot you. When you are in a fur ball, and your brain overloads lift vector on and pull max g, don’t get slow! Thus my laugh at 330 being fast; it used to mean DOOM! chip
I eased the engines up to take off power feeling the comfortable push of 40 thousand pounds of thrust. The acceleration was slow at first, then built exponentially. At 141 knots (160MPH) I gently lifted the nose wheels off of the runway, stabilized for a second, then coaxed the main gear off as well. Continuing to rotate the nose up it settled in at 15 degrees above the horizon. Passing 1000 feet I cut the climb rate in half and called for climb power to be set and the flaps to be raised. On the cold Feb day the MD-80 climbed out at 3000 feet per minute even with 100 passengers on board. We turned south east headed for the warmth of Florida, retracted the slats and accelerated to 250 knots for the rest of the climb. At 12,000 feet we entered the clouds and turned on the anti-ice. Rime ice built up quickly on the windscreen wiper. Passing 22,000 feet we burst out of the clouds into a crystal clear sky. The sunlit day had an intensity that demanded polarized shades, the white hot clouds below us reflected the suns energy.
So began another day in the front office. An office I have been fortunate enough to inhabit since 1982. Many different types, I have enjoyed them all. Not that I don’t miss the mighty F-4 Phantom II or the sporty A-4 Skyhawk, I do, I even miss night carrier landings in the EA-6B Prowler. OK maybe not the night traps; even with the fun machines in my past I still feel fortunate to fly for a living. I love to fly; even in the crazy post 9-11 days of the present. That’s why I write about flying, I want to share the experience. chip
The first post on my blog! I’m new to this so be kind. I know being a pilot I am expected to be up on the latest technology. But the fact is most people would be suprised how old the tech is in the average aircraft. By the time you get thru development, flight test and then the feds, it is dated. Besides, while in the Navy most aircraft I flew could best be termed antiques (A-4/EA-6/F-4). Luckily my children and friend/editor LaVonne have tutored me. So fire away on questions on the book or aviation in general, military, test, airline, cargo or corporate. chip