Friday, November 03, 2006


The F-117, the world's first stealth fighter, is being retired. That site is a great resource and if you want a short history of this fruit of the Skunk Works, follow the "F-117 History" link on the left-hand column. It's like a cross between The Right Stuff and The X-Files. For instance, there's this story about one of the first test flights:
Flight test of the Have Blue initially went fairly smoothly, and the fly-by-wire system functioned well. The landing speed was quite high (160 knots), as expected because of the lack of flaps or speed brakes. However, on May 4, 1978, Have Blue prototype number 1001 was landing after a routine test flight when it hit the ground excessively hard, jamming the right main landing gear in a semi-retracted position. Pilot Bill Park pulled the aircraft back into the air, and repeatedly tried to shake the gear back down again. After his third attempt failed, he was ordered to take the aircraft up to 10,000 feet and eject. Park ejected successfully, but he hit his head and was knocked unconscious. Since he was unable to control his parachute during descent or landing, his back was severely injured on impact. He survived, but was forced to retire from flying. The Have Blue aircraft was destroyed in the crash.

It's amazing stuff.

No comments: