Trent_800
Topic Author
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2002 11:29 pm

Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 4:08 pm

What is the most difficult Aircraft to fly? (ones that are operating now) i would have thought Concorde myself but am probabally wrong.
 
cloudy
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 4:11 pm

Heard the U2 is pretty tough.
 
Rick767
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 4:52 pm

Trent,

I am told Concorde is actually very easy and forgiving to fly, but quite a complex machine to operate.

You fly a C152, but you operate an airliner.
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
 
JETPILOT
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 5:12 pm

The DC8 isn't terribly responsive...

JET
 
GDB
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 5:15 pm

Rick767 is correct, the conversion course to Concorde from conventional airliners is a long one, with practice touch and goes and the usual classroom and simulator stuff.
This really because of the different handling of the aircraft and as mentioned, the complexity, nowadays virtually all prospective Concorde pilots now come from glass-cockpit, two-crew aircraft.
One BA pilot pilot training for Concorde described it as like 'a fighter with a passenger cabin'.
 
Rick767
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 5:35 pm

As far as the 757-200, 767-200 and 767-300 go they are all pretty easy to handle. The 762 is my favourite though, very responsive and very forgiving, and generally easier to land than the other two in my experience. Shame there are not many left in our fleet so I don't get to fly them that often.

The 752 comes a close second, with good all-round handling, and the 763 (while still a joy to fly) comes third. You have to stay well ahead flying the 763, it's more stable than the 752 but not as forgiving and you can make a really rough landing if you're just not quite right.

You do have to make a more conscious "pull" in the flare on the 763 than the other two or you will just slam dunk it. At the same time though you must be careful about pulling too much, as too high a pitch attitude can cause a tailstrike much more easily on the 763 (same goes for takeoff).

All great planes though, wouldn't mind having a go on Concorde but probably won't get that chance in life - it's just for a select and lucky few.
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
 
Mr.BA
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 6:11 pm

Anyone have comments for the B747? Big grin
Boeing747 万岁!
 
saintsman
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 6:15 pm

I wonder what some of the modern fighter aircraft are like to fly without the electronic flight control systems. I understand that fighters need to be inherintly unstable to make them agile in combat and that the electronics are required for normal flight. Having never flown one I wouldn't really know. Also, even airliners rely on them to some extent (yaw dampers for example). I bet its hard work flying totally manual.
 
FredT
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 7:27 pm

Saintsman,
the main reason for making them unstable is to keep them manoueverable in supersonic flight when the CoP moves aft. The F-16 is supposed to be about neutrally stable in pitch. There is a manual pitch override function, used to rock the aircraft out of a deep stall.

Another aircraft which I am much more familiar with (guess which one?) is inherently unstable. However, if it all goes to hell in a handbasket there is a backup mode where the aircraft is converted into a stable configuration.

In both cases, the signals to the control surfaces are still electrical so parts of the FBW system have to be online to at least transfer those. In my aircraft, there are backup channels available which bypass the normal control command path should it be necessary.

Flying an unstable aircraft manually would indeed mean a bit of work and constant corrections would be required. However, many aircraft today are inherently unstable. Left to their own, they'll enter the infamous graveyard spiral which has been the doom of many VFR pilots who stumbled into IMC. However, the period of this instability is large enough for it to disappear in the constant small corrections required due to gusts and so on. Just like driving a car along a straight road, you don't think you are doing anything... but if you take your hands off the wheel the car will quite rapidly go off the side of the road. You could fly a pitch unstable aircraft if the instability was small enough for you to cope. The Wright Flyer I was quite pronouncedly unstable as the Wrights believed it had to be to be controllable. However, at the slow speeds involved, they were able to provide stability manually.

Cheers,
Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
saintsman
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 8:10 pm

Fred,

Thank you for your info. Perhaps you could clarify as to whether it is easier to fly a stable or unstable aircraft. I would have thought unstable made an aircraft more manoeverable but increases the workload. Or with the modern electronics the effect is neglegable.

Thanks

Saintsman
 
bragi
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 9:47 pm

As said above, the U2 is pretty tough.
It flies at very high altitudes and the speed control has to very precise (because it isnt built with swept back wings and therefore cant go as fast e.g. the SR-71 Blackbird). If you go too fast the U2 is in danger of tearing apart, and if you go too slow it can enter stall or spin, which sometimes is impossible to get out of, or that will tear the aircraft apart.
It is also pretty difficult to land a U2, so someone on the ground has to maintain radio contact with the pilot to guide him down.
Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
 
AFa340-300E
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 10:15 pm

Hello,

In the ICARE magazine on Concorde, a SSC pilot said that flying that airplane required to virtually qualify on two airplanes: a subsonic one and supersonic one.

Best regards,
Alain Mengus
ATB - The trailing-edge wedge
 
FredT
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 10:53 pm

Saintsman,
flying an unstable aircraft with old-fashioned wire and pushrod powered controls would be very difficult. It would be a balance act where you're constantly compensating for all disturbances in flight attitude. A stable aircraft would attempt to return to its trimmed attitude by itself. Furthermore, an unstable aircraft is typically easy to spin and hard to get out of a spin. A good example was the P51D with full fuselage tank. It was dangerously close to being unstable (CoG far aft) and the pilots made sure to fly with care until they had the fuselage tank emptied.

However, the unstable aircraft which are operational today all (to the best of my knowledge, you never know...) are FBW, with computers moving the rudders to achieve what the pilot tells the computers he wants the aircraft to do.

With a good FBW system, flying is very, very easy indeed. You pull on the stick with a force of n newtons. This is interpreted by the computer to mean that you want a load factor of, say, 3 Gs. The aircraft then does whatever is required to achieve those 3 Gs, unless this would mean stalling. If you want to roll, just push the stick sideways. The computers make sure the aircraft rolls around its longitudinal axis only, where in a non-FBW aircraft you would have had to add rudder and elevator input during various parts of the roll to keep it clean.

FBW, when done right, really reduces pilot workload. In addition, you're protected from going outside the envelope... or, in the (military) aircraft I'm familiar with, protected from going outside of the envelope without glaringly obvious feedback telling you that you're pushing it.

Cheers,
Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 11:19 pm

Someone asked about the 747. I've got a few hours doodling in the Northwest 747-400 sim, and was extremely impressed by the airplane. It flies like any other jet, will get away from you if you dont watch it while handflying, but is extremely stable and smooth to operate. The 400 has a rediculous amount of power, just gotta wait a few seconds for the engines to get up to speed.


Maybe this would fall under one of the scarier planes to fly, but we have a Shorts S-72 Skyvan that flies for Northstar Air Cargo here (a feeder for Airborne Express), and the pilot is one of hte instructors where i work too. The thing is a complete and total piece of junk. You trim it out, it comes right out of trim momentarily. You fly in bumps, youre fighting with the controls with all your strength the whole way. And I wont mention their maintenance practices.  Smile The cool thing is, it weighs 12,500 pounds and has the t/o and landing performance of a Cessna 152....

That being said, if I havent been hired with the airlines next year, I'll probably be flying that thing haha.
Chicks dig winglets.
 
Notar520AC
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 17, 2002 11:30 pm

Well, I'll say this much:

This bad boy is extremely tricky to fly. Just a nudge on the joystick and you're in a 45 degree bank. The NOTAR system makes the yaw axis very sensitive as well, and holding a hover, much less landing this thing is not easy.
BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine
 
Guest

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 12:33 am

One of aviation's little secrets is the larger the airplane the easier it is to fly. Large civil aircraft, as a rule, have a tendency to be quite stable in all axis and their sheer mass means that once you've got your desired speed established it usually doesn't take a lot to keep it in the ballpark. Like I said, they're much easier to fly than your typical light aircraft which, at times, can be quite challenging to fly - like herding puppies. As Skipper said in one of his posts on a different thread, for most experienced jet pilots, the biggest problem encountered in transitioning into a 747 is learning how to taxi the beast. An ILS is an ILS, a go around is a go around, etc. Rick767 probably said it best though - you fly a little airplane, you operate a big one.

As far as tactical military fighter aircraft go, one of our pilots is a retired F-15 pilot and former base commander of one of the two USAF F-15 training bases. I've asked him what they are really like to fly. His response was that all of the military fighter aircraft are designed to be extremely easy to fly for low-time inexperienced military pilots. The transition time for most experienced civilian pilots would be very minimal - a handful of flights. Learning how to "fight" with the airplane would be a whole different issue though...

Jetguy

 
ScooterTrash
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 1:29 am

All airplanes have their eccentricities that can make them challeging to fly. My votes, however, are as follows:

Highest workload: Any old jet (DC-8, old Baby -9's, etc.)

Most difficult handling civil aircraft: J-32, hands down! (ever flown one? That airplane will make you GOOD!).

Most difficult to land consistantly: DHC-8 (my ride) and the 727.

Thats about all I can think of right now...
 
Guest

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 3:28 am

Hello from the 747...
Yes - You gentlemen got the picture, probably the easiest is the 747, because its inherent stability - flies even fine w/o yaw damper... Flown it for some 17 years now... I have yet to get a "bad landing"...
xxx
The 707 was more stable than the 727... actually that 727 was rather "easy" to handle - but this made it a little dangerous in a sense that your overconfidence could... kill you - 727, ok but watch out...
xxx
For the 707, the older ones were a little more demanding, especially those with the "parallel" yaw damper (off for takeoff and landing)... the "race horse" 720 (the short 707) was not too stable compared to the 707... I flew the old KC-135s, they handled like the 720s... not bad but could be better...
xxx
The DC8s were more "stable" than the 707s, again, the old ones I flew, the 50 series were not as nice as the 60 and 70 series... my favorite were the 73s...
xxx
Finally, lets talk about a mean one to handle - The Learjet 23, that one you better learn to fly... not stable at all... you add power, nose goes down, you reduce power, nose goes up - weird... the 24 was a little better, but... I still occasionally fly a Learjet, but it is a 31A, a very nice airplane, bears no relation with these old 20 series...
xxx
(s) Skipper
 
LZ-TLT
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 4:53 am

The 727-100 was known for very weird behaviour at high altitudes probably because of the shorter fuselage combined with the control surfaces size.

Would be glad if some 727 jockey with experience in both the -100 and the -200 series could confirm or reject that
 
Guest

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 5:44 am

LZ-TLT -
Yes that is correct, 727-100 was a little more "touchy" to handle compared to the 727-200 - it was a very "unstable" aircraft which had altitude limits if the yaw damper went out - but the 727-200 did too...
xxx
The original 727-100 had ample power at its original weight, but later, the first 727-200s got weight increases... The last 727-200 were aircraft with gross weights which were nearly same as 720s...
xxx
I remember (weights in pounds) of the 727-100, being 169,000 lbs, but some 727-200s went as high as approximately 205,000 lbs or so... I have flown some 200s with 187 passengers, a crowd...
xxx
My opinion was - and still is - a 727 is an aircraft you should respect and be careful with - many accidents because of that...
(s) Skipper
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 8:10 am

Someone once said:

A 727 climbs safe, flies safe, and drops like a safe.  Smile
Chicks dig winglets.
 
Guest

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 10:55 am

My "test pilot"  Wink/being sarcastic judgement of some airplanes is as is -
I have flown various type aircraft in "short" and "long" fuselage versions -
i.e.
727-100 vs 727-200
DC8-50 vs 61, 63, 71, 73
720 vs 707-300
747 vs 747SP...
xxx
All short fuselage airplanes seemed to be somewhat less unstable (yaw)...
However, I have to say, the 747SP having a larger tailfin, did not appear to me to be unstable in the same manner as shorter versions of other planes.
xxx
Weight of an airplane seems to render it much more "controllable"... if you take off with a 747 at maximum gross weight, or if you take off with a 747 empty with minimum fuel for a short ferry... that "light 747" can be quite difficult to control...
(s) Skipper
 
UPS763
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 1:15 pm

Out of the helicopters I have flown, the Robinson R22.

Matt
 
Whiskeyflyer
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 9:32 pm

The pilots at our company would agree with B747Skipper and vote for the Learjet 20 series as the hardest to fly. They say its because the speed limits (Do NOt Exceed Speed and Stall Speed) are too close together. Even our exFighter jocks don't like it.
As I don't get to fly the fancy machines here, the hardest I've flown is the Avid Flyer taildragger....... nickname the Avid "Terrifier". Loves to ground loop
 
ThirtyEcho
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 18, 2002 10:39 pm

I'd have to vote for just about any "Ultralight." They are basically aircraft built to the standards of 1909 and are quite similar to the Bleriot in structural integrity and flying characteristics. At the same time, they are often flown by unlicensed, untrained pilots for purely recreational purposes out of unimproved strips that lack the amenities of even the most basic public use fields.
 
Whiskeyflyer
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 3:20 pm

Well ThirtyEcho I fly the Ultralights as you call them in addition to larger craft and work on even bigger aircraft. And its real flying. I admit it does attract cowboy fliers but you be surprised how many pilots (ATP, CPL included) fly them just to get back to the real feel of flying, not being stacked, under command of ATC etc, and trusting your flying skill to get the craft into a field bordered by trees and a wall and hoping the farmer hasn't left his horse out again. I have taken some ATP pilots up on a little machine and they just smile and throw it around (but the slow speed is about the only thing they complain about)
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 4:52 pm

The F-104 Starfighter is a very difficult plane to fly. The loss rate for this type was horrendous and it even got the nickname "widowmaker". The reason was because the airplane had very small wings and had to fly incredibly fast to avoid stalling- even approach speed was very high. Another jet was the F-100 Super Sabre which was quite unstable- especially on approach to land. The F-14 Tomcat is supposed to be pretty hard to fly on carrier ops because it is very heavy. As far as fighter jets go probably any of the Century Series fighters is difficult to fly as opposed to today's modern jets(F-100/F-101/F-102/F-104/F-105/F-106)
 
Guest

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 5:18 pm

You will laugh at this one - from this "super ace"...
My son now learns to fly with me - I bought a L-21c Super Cub ex-Army...
xxx
Two years ago, my son wanted a radio controlled model J-3c Cub...
Took me two months to build it, balsa wood, fabric etc...
Painstakingly decorated the model exactly like our L-21... looked same...
Model and all equipment total near $500...
xxx
Then a sunny saturday we went to attempt the first flight of the model...
I was THE TEST PILOT (nobody better than me - right...?)
Take off, climb to 100 feet or so... hmm, goes fine... 180 degree turn...
Coming back at us, let's see a... landing...
But it kept on going, and going, and going... heading North, and climbing...
It probably crossed the River Plate, all the way to Uruguay...
Goodbye model... forever - never heard about it again...
My chief pilot chewed my fanny, tears in his eyes (that's my son)...
My wife "got a headache" for a week...
xxx
NTSB investigation - the batteries were dead...
(s) Skipper
 
Mr.BA
Posts: 3310
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 5:23 pm

Build another one if you ahve the time then  Smile Your son would be happy, probably this time make a B747  Smile
Boeing747 万岁!
 
FredT
Posts: 2166
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 11:37 pm

Positive rate,
I know that the Germans had horrendous loss rates on their F-104Gs. However, do you have the loss rates for other airforces equipped with F-104s?

I'm asking since I've read accounts claiming that they loss rates weren't bad at all except initially in Germany. The reason given was that the problems for the Germans were due to their pilots being out of flight trim after not being allowed to fly very much after the war, then converting to the F-104s way too fast as Germany wanted to catch up with the rest of NATO.

Cheers,
Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
RickB
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Mon Oct 21, 2002 11:53 pm

Without a computer its probably the F117 stealth fighter, one of the very few aircraft that is apparently unstable on all three axis'. According to Ben Rich, head of skunk works at the time of development - 'without the computer we couldn't even taxi straight'.

RickB
 
PPGMD
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 2:44 am

Landing a Pitt's Special.
At worst, you screw up and die.
 
bragi
Posts: 212
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 5:06 am

The Grumman X-29 is also extremely unstable (because of the forward swept wings) and impossible to fly without computer assistance.

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Muhammad Ali: "Superman don’t need no seat belt." Flight Attendant: "Superman don’t need no airplane, either."
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 6:32 am

Harrier GRx... pick your model ... only THE best get to fly those over here. In fact, I should apologise to the chaps in dark blue. At least the GR series have the bubble canopies so you could see that big round thing coming up towards you ("What's this big round thing coming towards me? I think I'll call it Ground. I do hope it's friendly." And all the bowl of petunias thought was, "Oh, no. Not again...").
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
AWspicious
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 9:14 am

B747Skipper;
Funny one about the model airplane. Not for your son, I'm sure. Would have loved to see the expression on your face  Laugh out loud

I seem to recall glancing across some info regarding the MD11 not as "pleasant" to operate as the DC10 - Something about smaller horizontal stabilizers.

regards
aw
Nevermind political correctness - Envision using your turn signals!
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 5:29 pm

FredT i'm afraid i don't have the F-104 loss figures but i have seen them before in an F-104 technical book. The Germans did have the highest number of losses but i seem to remember the Italian Airforce also had a high loss rate for this a/c. Not sure about the USAF but i know that they lost a few also. Perhaps you are correct as to the reason for the high loss rate for the Germans as this was a very slippery aircraft.
 
Admiral Ackbar
Posts: 157
Joined: Tue May 28, 2002 2:26 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 7:11 pm

Well the RCAF flew the CF-104 and had an appaling loss rate. About 110 CF-104/CF-104Ds were lost in accidents, out of 239 delivered -- a loss rate of no less than 46 percent.

Maybe it is because the RCAF used it as a ground attack plane. Great idea, use a high-altitude interceptor as a ground-attack plane. I think the Germans did the same thing, which would explain the high loss rates.

With a small wing like that, I wouldn't have liked to be one of those pilots...

 
D-aqui
Posts: 208
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2001 7:16 pm

RE: What's The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 22, 2002 9:14 pm

@ Positive rate
@ admiral ackbar

There were a number of reasons why the German Luftwaffe and Marineflieger (Naval Air Arm) lost some 200+ F/TF-104G (don't know the exact figure) during their operational use:
a) originally designed as a daylight interceptor with lessons learnt from the Korean war the conversion to an all-weather fighter-bomber meant a lot more weight and apparently tricky handling characteristics during the take-off phase
b) many accidents occurred during the t/o and the early F-104G production models did not have a zero-zero ejection seat which proved to be fatal for many pilots
c) the Luftwaffe and Marineflieger converted from subsonic first generation jets like the F-86 to a Mach 2 capable rocket with wings which meant two leaps forward and, in conjunction with b) led to a number of fatal accidents

On the other hand:
From all that I have read and heard from German pilots who have actually flown the F-104 they all stated that it was a delight to fly such a high-performance a/c.
When one commanding officer from the navy that I know had to convert from F-104s to Tornados in the early 1980s he told me that there was only one thing for him: "single seat, single engine". He was, of course referring to the F-104G. When he stopped flying the F-104 he had clocked some 3.500 hrs + on this type, without any major incident.

d-aqui
 
Admiral Ackbar
Posts: 157
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Wed Oct 23, 2002 1:09 am

D-aqui, thanks for the info.

I did not mean to denigrate the F-104 in my post, although it may have come off that way. It is one of my all time favorite planes.

I just wanted to point out that when you use aircraft in a way which was not intended by its designers (such as ground attack for a high-altitude interceptor), there will be a price to pay.

Very interesting point about the transition. I would imagine that it would be much the same as me going from my Honda Prelude to a Formula 1 car. Not sure I would make it past the first curve.  Smile
 
ThirtyEcho
Posts: 1411
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 1:21 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Wed Oct 23, 2002 1:28 am

Since this has digressed into a F-104 discussion, maybe something useful can come out of it; the most dangerous airplane is one being flown outside of its design or mission envelope. The designed mission of the F-104, as originally concieved, was to intercept Russian intercontinental bombers as far out as possible from the US. That required blinding speed and climb rate, flown wings-level, in order to get into missle range as quickly as could be done. Don't kid yourself that these wouldn't have been, in a war scenario, one-way missions flown to the limit of the 104's range and not to its combat radius. There would be no dogfighting as the bombers would be unescorted.

Using the 104 for missions other than this, such as ground attack or low level dogfighting, went way beyond the envelope of operations that the 104 had in its original design concept and were, by definition, dangerous.
 
lehpron
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Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2001 3:42 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 25, 2002 7:33 am

Hey yeah isn't the U2's flight envelope from stall to Vmax all the way to altitude like 10 mph?!

How would you rate a hanglider or skydiver, I'd think it'd be hard considering that you ARE the control surface.
The meaning of life is curiosity; we were put on this planet to explore opportunities.
 
FredT
Posts: 2166
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2002 9:51 pm

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 25, 2002 7:46 pm

Lehpron,
on a hang glider, or after opening the canopy if skydiving, you aren't.  Big grin

Merrily nitpicking away! Cheers,
/Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
saintsman
Posts: 2037
Joined: Fri Mar 15, 2002 12:34 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Fri Oct 25, 2002 8:55 pm

I can remember in the 70's a Belgian military aerobatic display team called 'The Slivers'. They used to fly two F-104s and used to aim at each other from opposite ends of the runway (or where ever the show was). When they met in the middle they used to do a barrel role and end up flying the the track that the other aircraft had come from, and all this at very low level.
Now that was aircraft flown outside their design envelope, but brilliant to watch.

The 104s used to have a wonderful sound too.
 
N79969
Posts: 6605
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2002 1:43 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Sat Oct 26, 2002 1:23 am

Lehpron,

I saw the same program as you on the U-2. You have 10 kts between stall and Vne. That is insane. The SR-71 is supposed to be unforgiving as well. The USAF selected only mature flyers to be a Blackbird pilots. In fact, one of the requirement is that you had to be married.

I have also heard that 727 is a pain to land or at least is not forgiving. I heard from a couple of pilots that you have to fly it to the ground meaning that all approaches are power-on until you hit pavement. I heard a funny- (2nd hand) story about a UAL Captain who was just assigned to the 727. He pulled the throttles to idle about 100 ft AGL...the next flight was delayed several hours as they inspected for damage. None was found. The 727 is a winged-tank.
 
sllevin
Posts: 3314
Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2002 1:57 pm

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Sat Oct 26, 2002 2:27 am

Actually, the original U-2's had closer to 4 knots between stall and mach; by all accounts of U-2 pilots, you flew them very much with your fingertips. However, The X-3 'Stiletto' was also a very narrow-enveloped machine, and badly underpowered as well.

That said, it also depends upon the phase of flight. Regarding landings, Chuck Yeager once expressed to me (as he has to many others) that the only three machines you needed to fly to stay on top of your skills and ready to fly anything else were:

--The B-47
--The C-45 (Beech 18)
--The J-3 Cub

I thought it was an interesting choice of aircraft, but quite understandable (out of the three, I've only flown the Twin Beech, and yes, it requires that you stay in front of it on landing).

Steve
 
Notar520AC
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 29, 2002 1:41 pm

UPS763- The Robinson 22 SCARES me!!
BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine
 
TurbineBeaver
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Tue Oct 29, 2002 4:27 pm

Bragi,

If you go too fast the U2 is in danger of tearing apart, and if you go too slow it can enter stall or spin, which sometimes is impossible to get out of, or that will tear the aircraft apart.


Is this really true? I've heard different. What I have heard is that the U2 is a very tough plane to fly, because up at those altitudes, you spend most of your time flying at coffin corner. Where, since the air is so thin, your true airspeed is not much, and if you slow down much, you'll stall. However, if you accelerate too much, because it doesn't have a swept wing, you'll experience a mach stall, not ripping the wings off. I'd imagine that plane can handle a decent g-load.

Any comments?

TB
 
FredT
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Wed Oct 30, 2002 12:32 am

TurbineBeaver,
when the air is thin, your true airspeed is high even though your indicated airspeed isn't.

What happens with increasing altitude is your stall speed (measured in TAS) creeps up while the limiting mach speed (again measured in TAS) goes down. When those two meet, you're either above your mach limit or below stall speed and flying outside the envelope is generally not good. I don't know what shockwaves will do to the slender wings of a U2 (flutter does not seem impossible) but I know that I'd rather not be in the aircraft and figure it out empirically.

Cheers,
Fred
I thought I was doing good trying to avoid those airport hotels... and look at me now.
 
POSITIVE RATE
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RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:11 pm

Stall speed is measured in IAS NOT TAS. Turbine Beaver had it right- it's called "coffin corner". If you exceed MMO the a/c may experience a shock stall caused by supersonic airflow over the airframe and if you fly slower then you will experience a conventional aerodynamic stall. At very high altitudes the difference between MMO and VS is very small.
 
Alessandro
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Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2001 3:13 am

RE: Whats The Hardest Plane To Fly

Thu Oct 31, 2002 1:48 am

I say the An-225, imagine that you and your colleagues first (the An-124 and An-225 needs 8 in the crew to fly?) have to rev up 6 huge engines, one by one according to the spotters that saw it in Münich earlier this year. Then get ready to move this beast, landing must be hard as well, to co-ordinate the engines and flaps....
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