Flutterby™! : breaking up is easy

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breaking up is easy

2008-03-14 13:26:59.648292+00 by Dan Lyke 5 comments

[ related topics: Aviation ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-14 15:42:51.759991+00 by: petronius [edit history]

A friend of mine was a production test pilot in WW2, testing P-39 fighter planes right off the assembly line, most of which ended up in Russia fighting the Nazis in the Ukraine. His hairiest moment was trying to do a power dive in the prototype P-63 . He now realizes that he must have reached Mach .9 or so, and the controls became utterly confused. Somehow he wiggled it enough to drop the speed and regain the upper hand. As he put it, the plane survived the last turn, but it almost didn't survive the dive itself. UPDATE: fixed the second link.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-14 15:55:51.654765+00 by: jeff

That's a truly amazing story!

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-14 18:19:36.950853+00 by: ebradway

Wow! My wife came in while I was reading it and said "I hope you never have a story like that" and I said "There's no way I'll ever be traveling Mach 3.9 at 78,000 feet to begin with!"

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-14 20:13:47.405095+00 by: Dan Lyke

Cool, I was actually igorant of the P-39 and P-63, I kind of thought as propeller fighter technology as having peaked with the P-51...

On the "never have a story like that"... well... I got over the need to put myself in such situations back in my 20s.

#Comment Re: made: 2008-03-17 09:18:40.778337+00 by: petronius

Propeller technology ran right up to the doorways of the sound barrier. Spitfire pilots reported strange effects under extremely fast conditions. The issue is that Mach 1 varies depending on your altitude. It's about 720 MPH at sea level, but somewhat less as you go higher. Modern airliners can't hit 720, but they do have a Mach alarm to warm the pilot if they do hit the wall, which could be as low as around 600. The problem is that their wings are not designed to cut through the Mach level, but instead are engineered to a compromise betwen high-speed and lower speed performance.