Tag Archives: HAFB

The VIPER – How much do you know about its versatility?

Our pages and posts have probably mentioned Lockheed-Martin’s F-16 “Viper” fighter even more times than the First Aero’s 1916-17 inveterate Jenny.

There is good reason for this. While it is hardly one of our latest 5th Generation jet fighters (such as the F-22 ‘Raptor’ and F-35 ‘Lightning II), it is likely nevertheless one of the most popular of all jet fighters still in active service among America’s Allies, most of whom happily continue to operate this extraordinarily  versatile and highly maneuverable ship.  Powered by only a single jet engine, unlike the F-22 and other popular and more powerful 4th generation fighters, such as the F-14 or F-15, the F-16 is a record-setter from almost any perspective. You sometimes hear this fighter called the “Fighting Falcon,” but it’s far more popularly known by its actual users as the “Viper.”

The F-16 was first manufactured my General Dynamics, but later, in 1993, turned over to Lockheed, which merged with Martin Marietta, to become Lockheed-Martin. Still made for our Allied customers, yet no no longer ordered by the USAF, who first put it into use an astounding 44 years ago, in 1976, this amazing fighter is still very actively used by the USAF!

Also, keep in mind that this new (1976) fighter was quite unusual for this reason alone: The 1st test prototype mode, the YF-16 was one of the first planes in the world have an all fly-by-wire (FBW is a system that replaces the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface.) control system. Unlike conventional controls, it didn’t have any direct mechanical connection between the stick and the control surfaces. The YF-16 instead used electronic sensors to read the pilot’s stick inputs and then transmitted that—with computer interpretation—to hydraulic actuators that moved the control surfaces the appropriate amount.

Your webmaster regularly attends graduations of new USAF Viper pilots at nearby Holloman AFB (HAFB), Alamogordo, NM, to take part in graduation ceremonies of their still very active Viper Training School, which clearly remains one of the reasons you hear and see so much about this highly maneuverable fighting machine on our FASF posts.

But let’s take a look at some informative video clips of this remarkable jet, starting with a 4 minute 28 second tour of its ground-breaking cockpit innovations:

[Don’t hesitate to watch any of these video in full-screen mode for maximum viewing quality]

Next, below, is a 9:35 long video of this machine in action, from a cockpit viewpoint.  In this video experience you’ll see some quick aerobatic maneuvers that include some high “G” turns, in which you’ll notice how the pilot resorts to some strong and heavy breathing in order to avoid browning or blacking out from the heavy “G” loads that result. Here’s the Viper Demo Team’s Major Craig “Rocket” Baker having fun showing off his ViperThe “G” forces were so great in his final steep climb pull-up, that his cockpit mounted “Go Pro” camcorder stopped recording.

Next, below, we have a 6:36 long gander at the USAF’s  Thunderbird Demonstration Team at work.  Notice that, today, the Thunderbirds still fly this 44 year old jet as their aircraft of choice.

And, lastly, let’s watch this 9:48 long clip of the Viper do its thing during last year’s Air combat exercise Red Flag 19-1, at Nellis Air Force Base (NAFB), with F-16 Vipers from the 64th Aggressor Squadron, other fighter jets, and some good cockpit video. Filmed during Red Flag 19-1: January 26 – February 15, 2019.

Holloman Air Force Base Wing Meets the FASF and its History

    Col. Patton introduces Ric Lambart

Long discussed and requested, it finally came to pass:  The FASF presented its history, and how that history resulted in the actual creation of Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB), all our other Air Bases, Army Airfields and U.S. Naval Air Stations across the world, and, in fact, left virtually no place on earth unaffected by both the military and civilian aviation era that was born in Columbus, NM in 1916 and 17.

Yours truly had the privilege of presenting the unique First Aero Columbus history of how American Air Power was born during the Punitive Expedition of 1916, and of how American Civil Aviation was contemporaneously also re-born – – – and in the same place.

Thanks to a special invitation of the base’s Operation Group’s Commander, Colonel Jeff “Tank” Patton (left above), an FASF member, his troops had the opportunity to learn many new things about their own, the nation’s, and the Air Force’s actual history.

49th peronnel file into the HAFB Theater to hear more about   their history.  Photo by Col. Patton.  The woman in the center left front row corner is the HAFB Historian, Martha Whipple.

Among the estimated 400 some odd airmen at the Base Theater on Tuesday of this week, only a small handful actually knew of this part of their history, the very history it is the mission of the FASF to help protect and preserve for future generations.

Colonel Patton is the Commander of the 49th Operations Group at Holloman. His Group maintains and manages Air Combat Command’s most complex and diverse airfield and airspace operations, with three live-fire air-to-ground ranges and more than 58 thousand square miles of military operating airspace.  

The Group also supports remotely piloted aircraft (“RPA“), the deadly MQ-9 Reaper,” Air Education and Training Command’s F-16, German Air Force Tornado flight training, Joint test operations, and NASA, while providing combat ready Airmen for worldwide combat commitments.  There are several RPA MQ-9 Reaper photos at the end of this post.

 Here are some photos of this week’s event:

Colonel Patton (R) Discusses the program as Lambart (L) listens.  This photo is courtesy of Lt. Colonel Trevor “Phantom” Merrell, the 49th operation Group’s 9th Attack Squadron Commander.

        Lambart pointing to one of the FASF Power Point Slides during his presentation.  Photo by Col. Tank Patton.

      Lambart during the lecture.  This and the below photo were also taken by Lt. Col. Trevor “Phantom” Merrell.

Col. Patton presents Lambart with the special commemorative “Challenge Coin” of the 49th Operations Group in appreciation to the FASF for its presentation.

       Here are some photos of the MQ-9 Reaper RPA’s and F-16 Vipers used by the 49th:

MQ-9 “Reaper” remotely piloted aircraft are lined up in the 49th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron hanger at HAFB. Taken by J. M. Eddins, Jr.

MQ-9   Reaper Firing an air to ground missile.  USAF photo

 

The sun rises over an MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Courtesy of  J.M. Eddins, Jr.

A Reaper crew at their work-station ‘cockpit.  From thousands of feet above the terrain, the Reaper crews can focus in on targets with incredible sharpness, often with enough magnification to read license plates on vehicles.  USAF photo.

F-16 Viper Fighters break formation.

 

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