Stealth turns 40: Looking back at the first flight of Have Blue

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Winston

Lorenzo von Matterhorn
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https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy...ooking-back-at-the-first-flight-of-have-blue/

have-blue-800x644.jpg
 
I bet that was perfectly awful to fly. Unstable, underpowered and poor visibility.
 
Some guy at a US aero co. read an obscure Russian document on a math technique to simulate radar reflections on a plane,

and he developed code to model stealth aircraft, BUT, it had to be faceted, no smooth curves like the F-22 has.

The F-117 was next, looks a lot like Blue, used the same program. Also not well known is a guy flying the F-117 at nite

went into a spin or worse, could not get his bearings and crashed, was killed. The later ones had a button on the stick that

would automatically level it. Funny, as some model planes and choppers have that now too. Plus scads of low cost inertial
stabilizers, some quite tiny.
 
The later ones had a button on the stick that would automatically level it.

Spent four years working the F-117A on the flightline ("Single Config" and prior) from 2001-2005 in the 8th Fighter Squadron. Spent hours in the cockpit with power applied, got fairly familiar with the platform...never saw this button referred to. Funny some of the myths that perpetuate. Maybe it's better to let them go...
 
I bet that was perfectly awful to fly. Unstable, underpowered and poor visibility.

Imagine how the test pilot felt when they said, there's no pilot operating handbook for stall recovery on this. That's why we need you to stall it. Pilot probably gritted teeth and grunted at that point. It likely has some god awful tendenancy to roll on stalling. Sweep wings are bad enough and this thing is all angular. Test pilots always get that two thousand mile stare and stone cold focused look. Maybe the test pilots called in sick that day.

And I doubt the normal throttle idle, nose down, opposite direction of rotation rudder input, aileron neutral would work for spin recovery. It likely wants to spin. And had a tendency to violently oscillate while it goes mushy at low speed.

Heard that P-40 did forward flips during Ww2 test flight days, then the engineers "fixed" it. Pilot's answer was ride it out and let the oscillations settle. LOL.
 
I read about the emergency button on the stick somewhere, maybe Aviation Week, not Mad magazine, and did not make it up. Perhaps was on the later models. Would not be too hard to implement, you already have an IMU and autopilot.

It seems the fleet is in storage somewhere, waiting for the next war. Always thought it was funny that it has an F designation, for FIGHTER, but it really is a bomber. Maybe put a laser blaster on it to straighten that out.
 
I read about the emergency button on the stick somewhere, maybe Aviation Week, not Mad magazine, and did not make it up. Perhaps was on the later models. Would not be too hard to implement, you already have an IMU and autopilot.

It seems the fleet is in storage somewhere, waiting for the next war. Always thought it was funny that it has an F designation, for FIGHTER, but it really is a bomber. Maybe put a laser blaster on it to straighten that out.

Jet has a triple redundant digital flight control system to counter the significant inherent instability. What would this button even do? Really, really, really honest and for good stabilize it? No point. 'Bandits' I know complimented the jet's flying qualities when not low and slow. In many years of working the jet, never saw a dangerous 'uncommanded flight' problem, not once. I know the last fielded iteration of the jet, and there's no magic button. Or lasers. Or sharks with lasers. Not sure what your "IMU" reference is for, but the later jets had a very accurate, Honeywell laser ring gyro "INS" for navigation. It did not interface with the flight control system for Uber stability or anything else. The jet was known for being an unequaled bomb dropper, and the high stability was one reason why.

Also, early on, one F-117 launched an AIM-9 to be called a fighter. So, that's why it has the F designator. Probably has something to do with international treaties and such. I never saw an AA missile on a F-117A. To irritate a F-117A pilot, refer to the jet as the B-117A. Or the Stinkbug, as it sort of looks like from the back.

Not much of a secret where the jet is at today. Do some Google searching and you'll find the place. Amazing that even after all of these years and advances, the USAF felt the jet was still classified enough to warrant that kind of security. Must say something about how good the jet is, being the last, dedicated Low Observable platform built. Everything else after it was an LO design compromise, but operates on the same principals. I work on the F-35 now, but the LO How To is largely the same.

I come from a small group of USAF Airmen that don't have much if any idle speculation about what the aircraft is or is not. After a pilot flies the jet for the first time, they get their 'Bandit number" on a 30-06 nickel plated round, which is a sequential accounting of everyone who flew the jet. It's not a big number; last Bandit # ever given out went to our current Chief of Staff, General Goldfein. I am (I think) the only non-pilot Bandit, with a 30-06 bullet laser etched with "Bandit SMO", which stands for Squadron Maintenance Officer. Me and another guy who is long retired hand-picked every Nighthawk that flew over Iraq in 2003, and designed the prep plan to ensure the jets were as good for combat as we could make them before they went into harm's way. Unlike Kosovo, not a scratch, baby. Not a damned one.
 
I was at China Lake about '05, we were driving in from the Weapons Survivability Lab and saw 2 F-117 circle and land. One was standard black, the other desert camo on top and blue on bottom. Guys at Lab said they fly up from Edwards for lunch.
 
Me and another guy who is long retired hand-picked every Nighthawk that flew over Iraq in 2003, and designed the prep plan to ensure the jets were as good for combat as we could make them before they went into harm's way.
Getting a fighter jock out and back is definitely a team effort. Always has been. Always will be.
 
Getting a fighter jock out and back is definitely a team effort. Always has been. Always will be.

Could not be more right. The plan took somewhere less than 1k Airmen a couple months to execute, working darned near around the clock. Come game time, we owned the night!


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Maintenance always are the unsung heroes of an aviation op. Without them, nothing goes flying, and they generally give 115% effort to correct whatever issues whiny pilots report. They spent three months at OLV ripping a Cessna 152 completely apart after I had a no commo when the radio push to talk button failed on my side of the cockpit during a training flight. ATC was rather grumpy when the instructor said over the net that the student, I was holding my key down and talking, despite nothing heard on ATC's end. We had done three landings before we were aware of the fault by listening to ATC. They were all WHY ARE YOU NOT TRANSMITTING... Even the civilian maintenance guys and gals get a bird back in the air whatever it takes including overtime and missed holidays. Including ripping the damn thing completely apart, pulling every wire, and putting it all back together. That blew my mind. Somebody spent more on labor costs than that rust bucket airplane was worth I guarantee it.

Respect from a civy pilot +10... Maintenance crews keep pilots safe.
 
I was at China Lake about '05, we were driving in from the Weapons Survivability Lab and saw 2 F-117 circle and land. One was standard black, the other desert camo on top and blue on bottom. Guys at Lab said they fly up from Edwards for lunch.

Odd paint scheme for a nighthawk. Maybe a test squadron scheme or a proto? Doesn't seem normal paint scheme.
 

That's what it looked like. That page said it was the prototype in 85, must have been a different one painted the same.
Flying low with mountains as a background the black one would draw attention and the camo one nearly disappeared.
Coming back from lunch we said to the guys at the lab, "We saw a camo stealth fighter ". They said "No you didn't ".
.
 
A new find, https://www.f-117a.com/Senior.html Also has photo airboren with gear extended.
FSD-1 was originally delivered unpainted (See earlier picture on this page) and was painted in a camouflage paint scheme for it's first flight. That was abandoned for the standard gray used on all four subsequent flight test aircraft. Ben Rich, head of Skunk Works, personally preferred the gray and would have delivered the entire run in gray, but chief of TAC, Gen. Bill Creech, wanted black since it would mask the faceting and their shadows during the day. "You don't ask the commander of TAC why he wants to do something. He pays the bills," later recalled Rich. "The Skunk Works plays by the Golden Rule: he who has the gold sets the rules! If the general had wanted pink, we'd have painted them pink."

Hmm, interesting,
Also, it was originally believed that the inward-canted tail fins on the XST's would help shield the upward facing exhaust system from aerial IR detection. In doing this, the fins actually channeled the hot exhaust gases straight downward below the aircraft, increasing the IR signature from below. The twin tail also required that each fin be mounted on it's own separate boom. Although the distance was insignificant in the XST's, the larger FSD's distance of approximately 11 feet across the exhaust system made this arrangement impossible. Therefore, the split tail was abandoned by the now familiar V tail. The new arrangement was placed at the end of a stronger lengthened center spine to increase it's distance from the exhaust. It was found that the V-tail actually disperses the exhaust gases better than the split tail.
 
I read about the emergency button on the stick somewhere, maybe Aviation Week, not Mad magazine, and did not make it up.

You are probably thinking about a different plane. In the Eurofighter Typhoon, this feature is called "Disorientation Recovery Facility" (DRF) and it apparently levels the wings and puts the plane in a subsonic climb to get it away from the ground (5° climb at 350kts, according to some Google result). I guess other contemporary planes that are expected to have some dog fighting capabilities have similar features, but maybe with different names.

Reinhard
 
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