You may have seen this one. one well trained and cool
pilot……….reminds me of the STARS program I used to read behind the
dark curtain in the computer room. runway film similar to this . a lot
easier to read than this one. of course there was no audio. just me
clicking on the runway lights for normal landings.
Here’s the F-16 dead stick into Elizabeth City, NC: A fairly short RWY for
jets, (about 6,000 ft long), but qualifies for an "Emergency landing field"
in the grand scheme of US aviation.
You’ll probably have to watch the video several times to appreciate how
intense the situation and how busy the pilot was all the way to stopping on
the runway. Very apparently, the pilot was one-of-four F-16s in a flight
returning to their base, (most probably from the Navy Dare bombing range
south of Manteo), and the F-16 in question had already reported a
"Ruff-Running Engine" to his flight leader before the start of the video.
A few comments not readily apparent are:
-The whole episode, from start-to-finish only takes about 3 1/2 minutes!
– The video begins as the flight is being followed on radar. The flight
leader asks for the Elizabeth City tower UHF freq which is repeated as
355.6 and the entire flight switches to that freq: Just one-more-task for
the pilot to execute in the cockpit as he reports that his engine has QUIT.
He has to activate the Emergency Unit (EPU) to maintain electric and
hydraulic power. This unit is powered by Hydrazine: (the caustic fuel that
Germany created in WW II to power their V-2 Rockets and their ME-163 rocket
fighters among others.) Thus, the last call about requesting fire support
after the jet is safe on deck, and pilot breathing easy.
– Meanwhile, back in the cockpit, the pilot is busily attempting to
"Re-light" his engine: (Unsuccessfully, of course) while tending to
– The video is taken using the Head-Up-Display (HUD) camera which also has a
– The HUD is a very busy instrument, but among things to notice are the
‘circle’ in the middle which represents the nose of the aircraft and where
it is ‘pointed’: "The velocity Vector".
– The flight leader reports they are 7-miles out from the airport and at
9,000 ft altitude. Since the weather is clear and the airport is in sight,
this allows for adequate "Gliding distance" to reach a runway with the
engine OFF. Rest assured, jet fighters glide sorta like a rock. They don’t
enjoy the higher lift design of an airliner like that which allowed
Sullenburger to land in the NY river.
– Coming down 9,000 ft in only 7-miles requires a helluva rate of descent,
so the pilot’s nose remains well below the "Horizon" until just prior to
touching down on the runway. The HUD horizon is a solid, lateral bar, and
below the horizon, the horizontal lines appear as dashes. You’ll see a "10"
on the second dashed line below the horizon which = 10-degrees nose low.
– Radio chatter includes the flight leader calling the tower and the tower
stating runway 10 with wind 070@5MPH + altimeter setting of 30.13: yet
another step for the pilot to consider.
– The flight leader calls for the pilot to jettison his external fuel tanks
and asks another pilot in the flight to "Mark" where they dropped.. The
tower later tells the pilot to land on any rwy he chooses.
– Pilot reports "Three in the green" indicating all three gear indicate down
and locked which the fligh t leader acknowledges.
– You will hear the computer voice of "Bitchin’-Betty" calling out
"Warnings". More confusing chatter when none is welcome or even necessary.
(That’s "Hi-Tech" for ya.)
– The pilot has only ONE CHANCE to get this right and must also slow to an
acceptable landing speed in order to stop on the short runway.
You’ll see Black rubber on the rwy where "The rubber meets the road" in the
touchdown area. Note that during rollout, he gets all the way to the far
end which you can see by all the black skid marks where planes have landed
heading in the opposite direction.
OK: That’s more than you probably wanted to know, but you have to appreciate
the fine job this guy did in calmly managing this emergency situation. He
is a "USAF Reserve" pilot and those guys generally have plenty of
experience. That really pays off.
The pilot just saved about $20+m at his own risk…….Great job!
Note the breathing rate on the hot mic.
See if you can keep all of the radio transmissions straight.
Probably the coolest sounding voice in the whole mix is the pilot of the
engine out aircraft.