F-16 immelmann after takeoff

On the ItalianVipers forum there was an interesting discussion following a video found on Youtube showing a flight of 3 F-16s of the 23rd Gruppo, performing an Immelmann after take-off from Cervia. I suggest you reading the discussion here:  http://www.italianvipers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2304

This is the video:

We found out that this kind of take off is not standard and it is made only on open days, airshows and for special guests even if it can also be considered as a sort of noise abatement procedure since it enables the 23rd Gruppo Vipers to avoid overflying a nearby village.

I was interested in this procedure so I asked Dan Canin, a Block 60 pilot at Lockheed Martin to give me more details concerning this kind of departure. This is what he wrote:


As for the Immelmann after takeoff —The F-16 can do an Immelmann in AB from any speed over about 250 kts (slower if light, faster if heavy). From an AB takeoff we can usually get to 400+ by the end of a 10kft runway, so doing an Immelmann within the confines of the runway is not really a difficult thing. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact minimum speed to start the maneuver as a function of gross weight. As for configuration, the flaps in the F-16 are actually “flaperons”, serving dual purpose as high-lift devices during takeoff and landing (gear-down) by drooping, while at the same time providing roll control. There’s no flap switch in the cockpit — the flaperons come up with the gear. At LM we don’t typically do this sort of takeoff climb. For one thing, it’s not required for noise abatement because we have clear climbout corridors on both ends of our runway and nobody’s asked us to do anything other than a normal rate climbout. For another thing, our airport underlies the DFW “Class B” airspace, which has a floor of 4000 ft msl…so we need to ask for and get clearance for an “unrestricted climb” if we want to blast through that airspace on takeoff. Having said that, on some of our test profiles it’s sensible to do a full AB Immmelmann climb after takeoff. Specifically, our functional checkflight procedures following an engine change recommend doing a maximum AB climb to “high key” (~8kft), directly overhead the field, immediately after takeoff. This maneuver puts us as quickly as possible in a position to execute a flameout approach back to the runway if there’s a problem with the new engine. I did this this past Saturday on an airplane that had just undergone an engine change. The airplane weighed 27,000 lbs at takeoff, and when I started the pull to the vertical at the end of the runway I had almost 450 KIAS. (GREAT AIRPLANE!!!) As for whether this could be done in mil power — sure, but you’d have to accelerate a lot longer to get to much higher speed before pulling up, so you’d probably be several miles off the end of the runway when you did it. 

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.