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USAF YF-16 First Flight

Forty-five years in the past this month, the USAF/General Dynamics YF-16 Light-weight Fighter (LWF) took to the air on its official first flight with Basic Dynamics take a look at pilot Phil Oestricher on the controls. The YF-16 would go on to win the excessive stakes Air Fight Fighter competitors following a head-to-head fly-off in opposition to Northrop’s very succesful YF-17 Cobra.

The YF-16 was Basic Dynamics entry into the USAF Light-weight Fighter Program of the 1970’s. Its primary design was primarily based on USAF Colonel John Boyd’s Vitality Maneuverability (EM) Principle which posited that an plane with superior vitality functionality would defeat an plane of lesser vitality functionality in air fight. To realize such, EM Principle dictated a small, light-weight plane having a excessive thrust-to-weight ratio, which permitted maneuvering at minimal vitality loss. The YF-16 was an embodiment of this requirement.

The official first flight of the YF-16 (S/N 72-1567) befell on Saturday, 02 February 1974 at Edwards Air Power Base, California. Basic Dynamics take a look at pilot Phil Oestricher (pronounced Ol-Striker) did the piloting honors. The nimble plane carried out very effectively and was a delight to fly. Oestricher landed uneventfully following a short take a look at hop that noticed the YF-16 attain 400 mph and 30,000 ft.

Apparently, the actual first flight of the YF-16 inadvertently occurred on Sunday, 20 January 1974 throughout what was imagined to be a high-speed taxi take a look at. Because the plane accelerated quickly down the runway, Oestricher raised the nostril barely and utilized aileron management to verify lateral response. To the pilot’s shock, the plane entered a roll oscillation with amplitudes so excessive that the left wing and proper stabilator alternately struck the floor of the runway.

As Oestricher desperately fought to keep up management of his wild steed, the state of affairs turned more and more dire because the YF-16 started to veer to the left. Realizing that going into the weeds at excessive velocity was a prescription for catastrophe, the take a look at pilot rapidly elected to jam the throttle ahead and try to get the YF-16 into the air. The result of this choice was not instantly apparent as Oestricher continued to wrestle for management whereas ready for his airspeed to extend to the purpose that there was raise ample for flight.

When the YF-16 lastly turned airborne, it departed the runway on a heading roughly 45 levels to the left of the centerline. Oestricher someway maintained management of the plane throughout the rugged lift-off and early climbout phases of flight. The pilot then efficiently executed a go-around, entry into last method, and touchdown again on the departure runway. A tricky method to earn a day’s pay by any normal!

Historical past data that the YF-16 went on to win the Air Fight Fighter (ACF) competitors with Northrop’s YF-17 Cobra. The manufacturing plane turned often called the F-16 Combating Falcon, of which greater than 4,500 plane, in quite a few variants, have been constructed between 1976 and 2010. The now-famous plane has clearly fulfilled the measure of its creation as evidenced by its presence within the navy stock of greater than 25 international locations worldwide. Considerably, America’s Ambassadors in Blue, America Air Power Thunderbirds, have flown the F-16 in air demonstrations since 1983.

Whereas its preliminary foray into the air didn’t essentially lend confidence that such could be the case, the YF-16 did survive its flight take a look at profession. Aviation aficionados might view the precise plane on the Virginia Air and House Heart positioned in Hampton, Virginia.