Thursday, December 22, 2016

USAF Phantom Phinale

Screen Capture from 1st Video Below
Reader .45ACP+P alerted me to this the other day. Seems that the old F-4's last flight in the Air Force took place yesterday (the 21st of December) out at Holloman AFB, NM. The guys and gals at Airshow Stuff have some nice footage of a couple of Rhinos up at Oshkosh this past year. (Did you get over there for that Aaron? I don't recall, my memory ain't what it used to be. One of these days I'll make it out to Wisconsin. You know, come for the airshow, stay for the Packers and the cheese. I hear tell that Michigan has a nice "little" airshow as well. And I know Aaron went to that one.)

Anyhoo, here's two Phantom videos, one outside the cockpit, one inside the cockpit. I tell ya, seeing those big birds taxiing out brought back a lot of memories.


Here's the look and sound from the front seat, up in the air. (I'm sure Juvat, Dave, and Virgil might remember that well. That front scope isn't what I remember. I guess all the cool kids are going digital, besides, don't need a front radar scope if you're not shooting missiles, do ya?)


Sigh, the good old days...

The Phantom first flew on 27 May 1958 (I was five, so I wasn't working on them yet). I do believe the Greeks, Japanese, Iranians, Turks, and Koreans still operate the old bird, but she's out of work here in the U.S. of A.

She had a good run.




Editor's Note - I will be "oot and aboot" for the holidays, not to worry though, I have posts preloaded and set to post everyday up to (but not including) Monday, when Juvat gets to drive the boat, ring the bell and all. I will be reading (and sometimes responding to) comments. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all, see y'all next week.

Tip o' the hat to .45ACP+P.

26 comments:

  1. I'll bet you feel a bit melancholy Sarge. I remember attending an open house at North Island Naval air station in the early 80s. I went by a hanger and they had a phantom up on jackstands.

    Someone was activating the landing gear on and off. Man I just remember how fast and precise it was.

    Then one of the techs told me that for every hour of flight it took 20 hours of maintenance labor to keep them running. Wonder what the ratio is for the hornet

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    1. I've seen one source that says the ratio of maintenance hours to flight hours runs from 5-1 to 10-1 for the Super Hornet. FOr the Tomcat that source says 50-1. One reason why there are no Tomcats in the fleet anymore.

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  2. I didn't get to Oshkosh, just a couple airshows in Michigan this year. One day I'll have to make it there. The F4 is quite an awesome airplane indeed. I just hope they preserve a couple in flying condition for posterity.

    Merry Christmas to you, your family, and the rest of the crew and their families of Chant Du Depart.

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    1. Collings Foundation has an F-4D which they fly around the country. Hopefully someone gets an E-model in civilian hands.

      Would hate to think there are so few left flying.

      Thanks Aaron, Happy Hanukkah to you and yours. (Starts sundown on the 24th I believe?)

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    2. Now that really makes me feel old that my airplane is nearing posterity. My wife thinks I am as well.

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    3. I know exactly what you mean Dave.

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  3. That low speed high drag high alpha pass looked a little bit, um, uncomfortable.

    Great post. I remember Phantoms on the flight line at Oceana. VF-171 was the RAG and up to at least 1984 there were still a few fleet fighter squadrons flying them. It was so routine and I never thought to stop and enjoy the soon-to-be-gone sights and sounds.

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    1. The AOA in landing config wasn't all that high, provided you maintained airspeed. Maintaining altitude if you were slow though could get you behind the power curve in a hurry though. (BTW, behind the power curve is an actual aeronautical term, it basically means that there's a point in the engine envelope, where the engine won't produce enough thrust to get you out of a stall. The only way to regain flying speed is to reduce the AOA, which generally means lower the nose. No big deal....if you've got sufficient altitude. If not, you've got two options, ride it in in a stall, or ride it in in a dive. The descent rate probably precludes a successful ejection.

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    2. I enjoyed the "flight". I don't remember my head turning forward as much when flying as #2 as this guy's did. Course that could be that I turned it just enough to get the info I needed, and nobody was recording it.

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    3. Thanks Shaun.

      Juvat - I too thought he was moving his head too much as well. Wouldn't you keep your eyes on lead and trust him/her not to drive you off the runway?

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    4. Yeah, I would glance to the left with my eyes, to track the runway with my peripheral, but would keep him in my view, it could just be the camera he was using. There's one view of it in the mirror and it looks like a flashlight tube. It may just be the apparent motion of his head moving the camera more than is actually true. Course he didn't spend a lot of time in actual fingertip. The aft wingtip light was slightly forward of the fuselage star and the trailing edge of the slab was not aligned (you could see both edges). Which meant he was slightly wide, maybe half a wingspan or so. At that distance, one can afford to actually look at a gauge or runway or something.
      There's one spot in the clip, about 4:20, where I think he actually lost sight of lead for a bit. That would not be cool!

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    5. Wittman is said to be the busiest airpatch in the world during AirVenture. Lots and lots and lots of light planes in the air. Meticulously controlled and with everyone on their best behavior, but in that environment with low clouds and haze I can imagine a military pilot wanting to keep a third eye out for traffic. I also noticed that on the dirty pass they had their hooks down, and in the cockpit vid you could see him moving the handle in conjunction with raising gear and flaps. Probably not accustomed to messing with the hook in that configuration whilst flying form.

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    6. @Juvat- yeah, I saw that too. Knew a tanker pilot at Offutt, he had wanted fighters. During training he lost sight of his lead, performed (he said) a barrel-roll to find him, which is why he got tankers, not fighters, so he claimed.

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    7. @Shaun, I noticed in the cockpit videos how many aircraft there were on the ground. Place was carpeted with them, get a bunch of civilians in the pattern and I'd bet things could get "sporty."

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  4. I got really nervous watching this fellow fly wing because he did seem to be looking inside a lot. He was certainly loose enough to do that. I wonder why he didn't tighten it up a bit. He seemed very uncomfortable with his position. If it was me, I would have been on the other side of lead. Is that just me Juvat or were you as comfortable on either position? Maybe they were demonstrating naval aviation formation flying. You never know. Formation night weather landings are the best espirit d'corps builders there are. You can't be way out there if you want to get home. Of course, they are the ones lucky enough to be flying, not me. I shouldn't complain. I couldn't do it anymore (probably).

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    1. I'm used to seeing the wingman to lead's right, not left. But in a finger four the second element lead would be to the left wouldn't he? I didn't think the pilot with the camera was all that comfortable in that spot.

      But what do I know? I was a maintainer, I'd just fix 'em when you guys broke 'em.

      :)

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    2. Flying on leads right always felt more comfortable to me. I always thought it was because you were kinda turned that way with your left hand on the throttles on left side of cockpit and right hand on stick in the center. But I don't know for sure.
      Lost wingman is NEVER a fun maneuver. I have done a barrel roll into lead to maintain sight. Would have happily killed the student who put me there, but it was over in a second and we were on the other wing. Watching lead do a double take was fun tho.

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    3. Delivering iron years ago, I always preferred being number two rather than three or four. Mostly because I would be on lead's right. The join-up after takeoff was always easier somehow. Even as four, I'd join up on the right, then flip under. I rarely led, being the lowest ranking AC in the squadron - but that's another story. I guess I remember that the turn out was always to the North (go figure) and we took off west-bound 99% of the time.

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  5. Even though we knew the day would come, it doesn't make it any less depressing. The first time I went
    to DM in 1972, I was shocked to see that they were already mothballing Phantoms!!

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    1. Very first night at Kadena, just got picked up by The Drapire from the MAC terminal, as we passed the flight line there were (as I recall) 70+ F-4s parked out there.

      Man, they're like the buffalo, used to be thousands of 'em, now they're mostly gone.

      Sigh...

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  6. The last of the analog fighters, the F-4 was a beast to master. Rule of thumb was that it took five years in the cockpit until one was truly comfortable and felt that one could make it do whatever one wanted it to do. (basically one's entire first tour)

    (And yes, I hated flying wing on the left)

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    1. Wow. Five years. I guess she was a beast!

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    2. And that was in the days when we were getting 30-50 hrs flying/mo! (Of course I'm talking Thunderbirds-like efficient to point the bird felt like an extension of one's skin..

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