Transonic Cat Wars

I remember a huge flap at Soesterberg Air Base in the Netherlands when a new guy, one of the first of a wave of evangelical Christian officers from the Air Force Academy (a wave that continues to plague the USAF today), recorded Spielberg’s awful “1941” movie over all the alert shack’s Betamax porn tapes. Funny now, but an existential crisis at the time! […]

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Air-Minded: Sweeping Changes

When I take visitors around the outdoor aircraft on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum, I always say a few words about these Republic F-84s, early jet fighters that show the evolution from straight to swept wings:

F-84C Thunderjet, left; F-84F Thunderstreak, right (photo: Paul Woodford)

The aircraft with the barber-striped tail […]

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Air-Minded: Move Your Tail

When the Eagle got up to around Mach 0.95 you’d begin to feel resistance, as if the air was getting thicker and pushing back against your airplane. As you slipped past the shockwave and through the Mach the resistance went away and the airplane felt normal. The second you retarded the throttles, though, it was as though you’d run into an invisible Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man in the air. You and your jet and everything in it slowed down in a hurry, forcing you forward against the shoulder straps and seat belt. Once you were back below Mach 0.95, Mr. Stay-Puft went away and things felt normal again. Oh, and half your fuel was gone. […]

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