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MG MGA - off subject one for Steve G

Hi Steve, I didn't realise that Thunder City had closed, following the Lightning accident last year


Gordon
g c pugh

Gordon

Nor did I. Just been on PPrune where it was reported on 8 Sep that it had suspended operations. Seems the economic climate, plus aircraft servicing issues were the reasons cited.

The Lightning was nightmare to service. The UK CAA refused to issue flight worthiness certificates to potential UK civilian operators.

I had the pleasure of 1034 flying hours on the F1A, F2, F2A, F6, T4 and T5. Great performance aircraft. I had it up to Mach 2 a few times. 67,500 ft was my best height before I chickened out - bit ballistic at that height even though close to Mach 2, the airspeed was dropping very close to the stall.

Steve

PS. Can't think of a suitable MGA link!
Steve Gyles

Wow Steve, thats some altitude! almost 13 miles high.

I have always thought that the Lightning looked more of a ballistic aircraft than aerodynamic one with those two great big engines and those rectangular swept back wings.

But a beautiful aircraft.

I would have just loved to fly in one.

The only thing I have ever soloed in was a hang glider from the top of a hill in the Lake District. The only thing supersonic about it was my high frequency squeek as I found that the harness had trapped one of a couple of my sensitive parts just as I took off from the 400ft summit.

You may be pleased to know that all three important elements of the aircraft ( hang-glider, pilot(me) and the above mentioned sensitive part, survived and landed safely.

Voice eventually recovered and dropped the 2 octaves to normal

Colyn
Colyn Firth

Colyn, that's taking 'flying by the seat of your pants' to the extreme, but I bet you had a ball!
Lindsay Sampford

Hi Steve, I didn't even know that they had lost one last year, I expect you knew the pilot


Gordon
g c pugh

Gordon

No, I never knew him. He was South African and not ex RAF, so he never flew the aircraft operationally. I can only guess he was self taught. I believe he crashed during an air display in South Africa.

It was never an aircraft to play around with if you were inexperienced or out of practice. Typical highly swept wing supersonic aircraft designed in the 50s. It had a seat of the pants feel to the handling. No angle of attack gauges to tell you when you were near to the handling limits - unlike the Phantom F4 of the same period. You just felt a tremble through the stick when the aircraft was close to the limits and then if you pulled any harder, without any further warning, it would flick viciously and depart controlled flight.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Hi Steve, it seems as though it was a fire in the belly of the plane which affected the control system and the aircraft become uncontrollable, he tried to eject but his seat failed to fire and went in with plane


gordon
g c pugh

Gordon

Known problem. Probably a double reheat fire. The control rods at the back of the aircraft were originally made of aluminium and they burnt through in about 12 seconds if there was a fire around the jet pipes (quite common) - leaking fuel pipes (MGA link?) to the burners at the back. The tailplane would then run away fully nose up. They replaced those rods with titanium which gave you about 10 additional minutes to think about it.

What can you you say about the ejector seat failing? It's tough. Glad mine worked.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Well I think that the link is Steve who obviously loves to pilot high performance machines that have a seat of the pants handling feel to them, MGAs and Lightnings. Both designed in the 50s before CAD was invented and both leading edge designs of their time.

Wasnt the Lightning one of the first jet fighters to make use of the supersonic shock waves created by its wing design to enable it to reduce drag and go supersonic? Have I got that right Steve?

Also,I have to have to hand it to you Steve, it must have taken real bottle to fly one, and even more than most to get back into one to fly again after test flying your Martin-Baker.

Colyn

(Apologies for not realising earlier that the pilot had died in the crash in SA, kind of makes relating my hang gliding escapade inappropriate.)
Colyn Firth

Colyn

Like everything else in this world, if you get the right training you take it in your stride. It was never like Neil Armstrong going into the unknown. The test pilots did all the hard work.

I cannot remember the aerodynamics specifically. But it is true that when you got above about M1.3 the Lightning became quite efficient due to ram effect down the intake and just accelerated.

Steve

PS. The Lightning served me well and I never baled out of one. It is the Phantom F4 with which I had an argument (33 years ago this Sunday). Great weapons platform and loads of fuel compared to the Lightning but, in my opinion, it had the flying characteristics of an unstable brick. Like comparing the light handling MGA to a Healey!! At high level (40,000 ft ish and transonic), the F4 felt like balancing a ball-bearing on the edge of a razor blade. When pulling hard in combat you could not use the F4's ailerons. You had to hold the control column central and rudder the aircraft around. The slightest hint of aileron and the F4 went the other way. The Lightning was totally conventional to maximum G. If the Brits and Americans had got together then on aircraft design we could have got some superb aircraft with great weapons systems, loads of fuel and wonderful handling.

Now what about the Hunter.......?
Steve Gyles

Hi Steve as I have probably mentioned to you before my father was on the trials sqd for the Phantom when the RN first got it flying from the old Ark Royal
g c pugh

There seems to be quite a bit of military aviation in our histories. As a Navy brat I always assumed that it was quite a normal experience to go down the flight line to see the Blue Angels. I think they were flying A-4ís at the time. My father started in Spads for the Korean war then moved over to A-3ís and A-6ís in Vietnam. A whiff of avgas still brings back powerful memories of long cruises and joyful homecomings. Carrier pilots were always known to be a bit crazy, maybe thatís why I drive a MGA.

John
jjb Backman

Hi John it is indeed a small world, my father flew Sea Furies during the Korean war, having flown , Corsairs , Hellcats and Wildcats during WW2, he also flew the RN Skyraider a few times before they got the Gannet


gordon
g c pugh

This thread was discussed between 18/11/2010 and 20/11/2010

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