Monthly Archives: September 2016

Check out these stunning videos of the iconic F-104 Starfighter flying for the first time in 33 years in Norway

A civilian-owned CF-104D Starfighter flew for its first time in 33 years in Norway. And here are some of the coolest clips filmed during the historical “first flight.”

On Sept. 28, CF-104D Starfighter “637” / LN-STF in the colors of the Royal Norwegian Air Force flew again in Bodø, Norway, 33 years after its first flight.

Chased by a dual seater F-16B of the RNoAF, the aircraft, brought back to airworthy conditions in 13 years by the Norwegian Foreningen Starfighterens Venner (Friends of the Starfighter Association) flew for about 50 minutes becoming the first “Zipper” (or “Missile with a man in it” in accordance to one of the several nicknames the legendary plane has had during its long career) to fly in Europe in more than 11 years: the last flight of an F-104 in the Old Continent took place in Italy, on Jul. 27, 2005, when the Italian Air Force retired its last aircraft (a two-seater TF-104, the same type of aircraft this Author had the opportunity to fly in November 2000) after more than 40 years of service.

Eskil Amdal, a Norwegian test pilot, flew the Starfighter “637” during its newest “first flight” that was broadcast live on Facebook.

The following video shows the takeoff of the chase F-16B that performed an airborne pickup of the F-104 and the later approach and landing:

Here’s an interesting clip with footage from inside the cockpit:

The following footage shows the CF-104D from the backseat of the F-16B (taken by Helge Andreassen):

There are rumors that the Norwegian association will some day bring the F-104 back to airshows around Europe. However it looks like there are no plans (and possibly clearances) at the moment to fly this magnificient aircraft outside of Norway.

cf-104d-takeoff

H/T to Giulio Cristante, Bjørnar Bolsøy and all the readers who sent us links and comments!

Salva

Salva

Polish F-16 Jets deploy for the first time to Estonia to take part in Baltic Exercise

For the first time ever, Polish F-16 jets deployed to Estonia to take part in the third edition of the Ramstein Alloy Exercise.

Ramstein Alloy is a two-day cyclic operation taking place in the Baltic region. The previous editions were hosted by Estonia and Latvia, this time, most of flying took place over Lithuania on Sept. 27-28.

The Polish Air Force took part in the drills with F-16 Block 52+ jets from the 31st AB in Krzesiny, near Poznan which were stationed at the Amari base in Estonia.

Along with the Polish Vipers, French Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania as the lead NATO BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) nation, with German Air Force Eurofighters augmenting the BAP mission from Amari, Estonia, took part in the exercise.

Finland and Sweden, NATO partner nations, were also involved in the exercise as well as Baltic States that also contributed to the exercise: Lithuania, with its C-27J Spartan airlifters, and Latvia, that provided a Mi-17 helicopter to carry out SAR/CSAR operations.

The whole exercise was focused on the air policing/interception sorties, reconnaissance and provision of assistance to civil planes within the scope of emergency situations even though there was space for something more: for instance, the Polish jets were also engaged in CAS (Close Air Support) activities.

Ramstein Alloy was just the latest one of a series of activities and operations involving the Polish F-16s. abroad. Not only have the F-16 been deployed to the Middle East to fight Daesh (in a recce role, the relevant detachment from the Łask AB is stationed in Kuwait), but now they are also being deployed along the whole NATO’s Eastern Flank.

This may be considered as a rebuttal of those rumors suggesting that the Vipers operated by the Polish Air Force are not combat ready.

So far, the Polish Air Force has supported the BAP rotation with the MiG-29 Fulcrum for various reasons: from the assumption that the Fulcrum is less sensitive to FOD, through financial reasons, finishing with ELINT threat posed by the Russians.

Some claims also emerged, suggesting that Polish Vipers may not have had their AIDEWS suites updated hence unable to operate close to the Russian border.

The fact that the Polish F-16 jets have been deployed to Estonia has a double meaning then. First, it puts an end to the rumors regarding the potential lack of readiness of the Polish jets; second, it might be the sign that the Polish Vipers are being prepared to support the Baltic Air Policing operation next year, eventually replacing the old MiG-29 Fulcrums.

Image Credit: Wikimedia

 

Check out this funny video of a Harrier Jump Jeat destroying part of a (grass) runway on take-off

35 years ago a RAF Harrier destroyed part of a grass strip by simply applying full throttle on take off.

The following video has been around for some time now. Still,  it’s quite funny and interesting as it shows what happened in 1980 to a RAF Harrier GR.3 that was taking part in an airshow at Bex, Switzerland.

The small airport, located in southwestern Switzerland, west of Sion, didn’t have a paved runway (nor does it have it today) but just a small taxiway leading from the main apron to the threshold of the grass strip.

Not a big deal for the Jump Jet, designed to operate from grass, unprepared runways and artificial surfaces.

However, when the Harrier pilot pushed the throttle forward to accelerate the aircraft down the runway something unexpected happened: the Rolls Royce Pegasus thrust-vectored turbofan engine unleashed some 21,500 lbf of thrust backwards, tearing up the upper layer of the runway including the RWY33 threshold and part of the taxiway.

Have a look:

Interestingly, it was not the first time the RAF Jump Jet took off from the grass strip at Bex: the following video shows the British Harrier GR.3 taking off from the same airport in 1978, without causing too much damage.

Now, as suggested by our friends at Tacairnet, just think to what would happen today if much more powerful F-35B were to perform a short take off run using Bex’s grass strip.

Salva

Salva

Salva

Watch an epic, deafening U.S. Air Force B-1B bomber’s (almost) head-on take off

A deafening late take off of a B-1B Lancer from RAF Fairford. Video is a bit shaky but cool.

The following clip was filmed a few weeks ago outside the perimeter fence at RAF Fairford, UK, where two B-1B “Bone” bombers belonging to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Base, Texas, were deployed.

The two Lancers along with a B-52 took part in Exercise Ample Strike 2016, a yearly Czech Republic-led exercise with 300 participants from 18 countries.

The video is not very good in quality, a bit shaky, but it gives a rough idea of what a (almost) head-on take-off of a B-1 looks like.

“The heat and exhaust flow blew me off my feet. Apparently developed a hydraulic fault on take-off so required more runway than usual for a safe lift off, hence why it is SO LOW,” says the author of the clip, Jonathan Grainge, in a comment to the video on Youtube.

 

Salva

Salva

Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flankers rock Malta International Air Show

Two Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flankers and one accompanying Il-76 have been among the highlights of the Malta International Airshow. And here some really cool shots of such interesting aircraft.

Malta hosted the traditional airshow over the last weekend.

Even though bad weather conditions forced the organization to cancel the aerial display over Smart City on Sunday Sept. 25, the arrival of the participants as well as the Saturday’s show provided an opportunity to take some cool shots of the most interesting aircraft that visited Malta airport in Luqa for the event.

Surely, the most awaited guests of this year’s edition of the Malta International Airshow were the two Su-27 Flanker jets of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Indeed, a Su-27 and a Su-27UB (58 BLUE and 71 BLUE), supported by an Il-76 Candid landed at the Maltese airport on Sept. 22: the Ukrainian trio arrived in style, performing a low passage over the runway before coming to landing.

By the way, this once again proves that Ukrainian pilots do love low-level flying

malta-airshow-2016-4

On Friday Sept. 23, some photographers were given the opportunity to get some shots of the aircraft at night. Our contributor Estelle Calleja was among them and took the stunning shots you can find in this post.

malta-airshow-2016-14

malta-airshow-2016-11

The two-seater Su-27UB took part in the late afternoon flying segment over Smart City with a solo display that included release of flares. This was the first time the airshow took place over the area.

malta-airshow-2016-12

malta-airshow-2016-13

Both aircraft left Malta on Monday Sept. 26. The two Flankers performed a formation takeoff for runway 05, followed by a right hand turn and a low pass to bid farewell to Malta after an attendance that will be long remembered.

Stay tuned for a new article about all the other highlights of the air show that we will publish in the next few days!

Image credit: Estelle Calleja

Salva