the names all sound like superheroes
July 11, 2002 7:02 AM   Subscribe

the names all sound like superheroes skystreak. thunderchief. super sabre. firebee. darkstar. and they fly, some of them faster than the speed of sound, but these "vigilantes" weren't born on the four-color pages of a marvel comic book.

they are nasa research vehicles and this way cool photo gallery stretches back to the days of chuck yeager and the x-1 transonic rocket plane. just a little bit of the right stuff for your thursday morning.
posted by grabbingsand (8 comments total)
there ought to be a period 'tween superheroes and skystreak, but i'm sure you all knew that already.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:06 AM on July 11, 2002

Rats. They didn't accidentally include the Aurora.
posted by warhol at 7:32 AM on July 11, 2002

The Thunderchief, known to its crews as the "Thud," was designed for high-speed tactical nuke strikes but turned out to be an effective "Wild Weasel" SAM-site killer in Vietnam. I used to know a USAF pilot who flew Wild Weasel missions in a -105 back in the day.
posted by alumshubby at 7:49 AM on July 11, 2002

The 105 was a hell of a plane. It could sprint away from SAM's with it's afterburner kicked in. Had the internal bay, that was for tactical nukes as previously stated, but more often I think wound up holding an aux fuel tank. It was a large airplane too. While I was in the USAF I saw numerous planes pulling monument duty, and the 105 could surprise you with its size.
I actually worked for Fairchild Republic before they shut their doors. It spurred me to delve into the company history and see all the planes they manufactured. My father was an engineer there, did a lot with the A-10 project.
During WWII they rolled something like 14,000 P-47's out the door in Farmingdale, NY
Later went onto C-123's, F-105's, A-10, and a lot of experimental aircraft, some built, some just on paper.
Later I worked for Grumman Aircraft, lot's of history there too, but that is another chapter.
posted by a3matrix at 8:13 AM on July 11, 2002

This reminds me of the F-101 Voodoo, which was flown from the base in my home town. Their mission in the 1960's was to carry the AIR-2 Genie, an unguided nuclear air-to-air missile with a yield of 1.5 kilotons. The idea was to intercept an oncoming fleet of Soviet bombers coming over the pole and fire the missile into the middle of them. It was unguided because the explosion would be large enough to do the trick, like hitting a flea with a sledgehammer.

But what I really like about fighter jets from the sixties that they have that sharp-edged space-age look.
posted by MJoachim at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2002

When I was a kid, every jet (as well as every car) I drew looked just like the F-105. I still think it's got the purest "jet-shape" of any aircraft ever built, even though my personal favorite jet now is of course the SR-71 Blackbird.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:18 AM on July 11, 2002

Chuck Yeager is one of the baddest motherfuckers of all time. His autobiography is a decent read, great first hand accounts of some crazy flight test shit. Here's another good collection of photos of Chuck and hardware.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:54 PM on July 11, 2002

The F-100 Super Sabre had a nasty tendency to respond very negatively to high angles-of-attack on full-power "combat departure" takeoffs. It would crash in a picturesque and frequently lethal evolution that came to be known as the "Sabre Dance."

What would happen was this: As the aircraft reaches takeoff speed, the pilot pulls back a little too aggressively on the stick, the nose pitches up a little too steeply as the nosegear leaves the runway. Next, the main gear leaves the runway too, but the aircraft's still pitching up...and up...right into the vertical, as it rapidly stalls (there's no more air going over the wings for lift), "squatting" on the afterburning thrust of its massive J-57 -- which unfortunately can't provide enough thrust to get it out of this sudden, violent hammerhead stall* that's like ramming into a wall of invisible Jell-O. The -100 (its pilot ejecting by this time if he's quick-witted and lucky), nose-high and blowtorching the runway, slowly and horrifyingly sinks back onto the concrete as it staggers down to earth, inevitably turning into a blazing pile of fuel-soaked metal junk.

*unlike modern tactical aircraft like the F-15, which has enough thrust to take off and accelerate straight up within the confines of the airbase
posted by alumshubby at 6:52 AM on July 12, 2002

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