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Thread: "How to fly the Lightning"

  1. #1
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    Default "How to fly the Lightning"

    Fine specimen of the Stiff Upper Lip school of commentary. Stolen from a post by "Alfie 168" on the YBW.com "lounge" (= Bilge)

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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    bump
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Very nostalgic, thanks Andrew. A voice from my childhood, listening to the Beeb on the radio, or Pathe Newsreels at the cinema.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    The aeroplane my Dad was going to be flying - but he bust a knee playing water-polo in the late fifties and left the RAF. (He didn't fancy flying a desk.)

    He always regretted missing out on the jet age.

    Andy
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    The age of analogue dials, round radar PPIs and steam telephones. It's all so user-unfriendly that you are amazed that people ever mastered it. But they did.

    You do notice that the main concern in flying the Lightning was to make sure that you landed with fuel still in the tank - like other British fighter aircraft, the Lightning didn't have a lot in the way of range.

    It's a very well made film.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I've was at RAF Coltishal, for one of my ATC camps.


    I was at a show at RAF Valley, the announcer said laconically "now we'll have a slow fly past, by two Lightnings"....My 15 year old ears believed him, of course he quickly corrected himself, and said hurriedly: "no it will be a fast flypast". The planes flew by at just subsonic, tens of feet of the runway. Stirring stuff.

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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Those ILS and RMI indicators are a trip back in time. I’ve flying glass now for 5 years. They promote Great situational awareness. it’s taken every bit of those 5 years to get comfortable with getting my eyes to find the info I need off those screens.
    Last edited by CK 17; 02-20-2018 at 03:24 PM.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I got to sit in the cockpit of an 11 Sqdn. F Mk.3 at RAF Binbrook for my 16th birthday.

    The only all-British supersonic plane to reach operational service, and it was the first aircraft capable of supercruise thanks to the low frontal area of the stacked and staggered Avons.

    It could have been ready years earlier without political interference, but also it sort of only just worked. 1000 ground crew hours per hour of flight was not unusual, and most engine maintenance required removal because they were packed in so tight.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I remember reading an article by Chuck Yeager in which he said that a pilot had to LOOK at a digital readout, but only had to GLANCE at a round dial with a pointer on it.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bow View Post
    I remember reading an article by Chuck Yeager in which he said that a pilot had to LOOK at a digital readout, but only had to GLANCE at a round dial with a pointer on it.
    For some uses it was found useful to install all the gauges so that in normal operating conditions the needles were all vertical.A quick visual sweep would draw the eye to any abnormal reading very quickly and the errant dial would get a bit more attention.

    The comment about the number of maintenance hours per hour of flying needs to be regarded in light of the purpose of the Lightning.Gareth mentions RAF Coltishall and it is less than twelve miles from my armchair.They were a frontline interceptor base and when told to go and look at an Eastern bloc interloper,they scrambled and went about their mission with all possible haste.A friend who lived fifteen miles or so from the base recalls sonic booms as they passed over his house near the coast.The duration might have been only forty minutes or so-but at Mach 2 that can cover a lot of ground or sea.Not bad for a design from just after WW2 and which was in service remarkably quickly.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Great video, thanks Andrew. A couple of friends have done the supersonic thing. Both essentially noted that there's nothing overly interesting about it - at high altitude. One has done it at low altitude - giving a frame of reference and making it much more exciting.

    Interesting to hear reference in the video to TACAN being available to the pilots for the fuel management task.

    That was the technology that allowed the USAF ground directed bombing of Hanoi during '67 and '68... and it was the site of the USAF TACAN installation that was the "target" of our visit to Laos two years ago. The Laos government is about to open the site for tourism (I'd like to think that our getting the first drone over it might have had some small influence on that change in attitude by the government.)
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Quote Originally Posted by John Meachen View Post
    For some uses it was found useful to install all the gauges so that in normal operating conditions the needles were all vertical.A quick visual sweep would draw the eye to any abnormal reading very quickly and the errant dial would get a bit more attention.

    The comment about the number of maintenance hours per hour of flying needs to be regarded in light of the purpose of the Lightning.Gareth mentions RAF Coltishall and it is less than twelve miles from my armchair.They were a frontline interceptor base and when told to go and look at an Eastern bloc interloper,they scrambled and went about their mission with all possible haste.A friend who lived fifteen miles or so from the base recalls sonic booms as they passed over his house near the coast.The duration might have been only forty minutes or so-but at Mach 2 that can cover a lot of ground or sea.Not bad for a design from just after WW2 and which was in service remarkably quickly.
    I think the serviceability issue is entirely in line with the type being the first of it's kind to be built in Britain and operated by the RAF. The P.1 prototype first flew in 1954, quite a rate of development from the WWII era piston-engined fighters and the early and unadventurous jets like the Meteor.

    Absolutely it was designed to the brief - take off, intercept the threat and return to base. All stations had either 2 or 4 planes fueled and armed in a special section called Quick Reaction Alert, along with suited and booted crew. When I was a Binbrook in the control tower I pointed to a small building over at one end of the runway and asked if the was the 'Q-Shed'. I took the silent non-response to be a yes.

    The problem with the Lightning was that with the delay in development caused by the Sandys review, the game had changed almost as it entered service and a requirement to loiter on patrol came into the equation. The all engines and super-thin wing Lightning didn't really stand a chance at that game even with the big belly tank of the F Mk.2a and F Mk.6 and in-flight refueling capability. Still, it hung around until 1988 (would have been retired earlier if they could have got the Tornado F Mk.2 working properly) so it obviously offered something that the Phantoms didn't have.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I've only read the second of these books, it was really interesting.

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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Does that book mention the mechanic who took off in one when he hit the wrong control?
    Story told to me by someone who was there (when I worked in a pub in JOE).

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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    Does that book mention the mechanic who took off in one when he hit the wrong control?
    Story told to me by someone who was there (when I worked in a pub in JOE).
    The story is well known; he was quite a senior engineer officer and was himself a pilot but not a fast jet pilot. He was asked to help with a throttle problem and decided to do a fast taxi to check it out - he overcooked it and took off - with no radio and no cockpit canopy. He put her down landing “uphill” on a neighbouring runway because he didn’t have the brake chute, iirc.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    It wasn't in the second book, but might be in the first. It is indeed true though, according to a quick google. It happened to Taffy Holden at RAF Lyneham, 11 years after my dad was stationed there for his national service.

    Here it is in his own words: http://www.historicracer.com/aviatio...fighter-pilot/
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    We were talking about English (and Australian and American) flyboys on the weekend. A mate, whose first OE was to the air base in Qatar, was saying that the second most noisiest device made by man is the Tornado jet. Google hasn't supported that assertion yet.
    "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime" Mark Twain... so... Carpe the living sh!t out of the Diem

  18. #18
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I would doubt it. My high school was on a training flight path out of RAF Cottismore so we had low-level GR.1s around often, and I've heard much louder planes. On the Concorde thread I mentioned that a Harrier in hover mode is louder than either Concorde or a Vulcan. I wasn't that close to Lightnings at take-off, but I bet their turbojets were louder than the Tornado's low by-pass turbofans.

    That said, I was scared half to death once when I poked my head over the top of a rock climb I'd just soloed (no rope) just as a pair of Tornadoes swept over the edge from a low pass of the moor, felt a bit closer than the 200' it probably was.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    I was expecting to see this.

    \"A little too tall, coulda used a few pounds...\"

  20. #20
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    It’s a good story, well told. Thanks for the link.
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    We’re the engines labeled 1 & 2 or top and bottom?
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    1 and 2. It was a neat design, really; it allowed for good intake geometry and kept the cross sectional area down. But when you look at one you can't help thinking that the whole plane was basically two engines one on top of the other, two thin wings, some tail surfaces and just room for the pilot. It's really an early design - it was worked out in the 1940's and the prototype first flew in 1954. It was drawn round the RR Avon engine which was also used in the Hawker Hunter, the Canberra, the Valiant, the later Comets, etc. It's neat because it does keep the cross sectional area down better than a side by side arrangement. The design kept getting tweaked, and the later Lightnings were a much more capable aircraft. The original idea was simply to protect the airfields where the V bombers - the nuclear force - were based, and a radius of action of 150 miles was enough.

    The Good Thing is that losing one engine has no effect on the handling. The Bad Thing is that an uncontained failure of one engine takes out the other. Oh and the tyres are very narrow to fit into the thin wings and they wore out fast... and that famous figure of 1,000 man hours of maintenance for one hour of flight, which was not unconnected with everything being packed into a very small space.
    Last edited by Andrew Craig-Bennett; 02-21-2018 at 06:34 AM.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: "How to fly the Lightning"

    On the 1000 hour maintenance and military thinking.

    I was moving a boat, when the engine stopped because of a clogged fuel filter. I had a crewman who was recently ex US army and huge. I crawled in the engine space to get to the filter, suddenly he was in the space with me and wordllessly handing me tools and filter as I needed them.

    After the job was completed and the engine running again. I thanked him and mentioned how good he was. He said it was a regular job when the army was using generators. Everyone did it multiple times. I asked how often they changed filters : "Every 4 hours". I change them every year.

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