Breaking news out of San Antonio this evening. A T6 Texan trainer aircraft crashed into an open field north of San Antonio near Randolph Air Base.
Both pilots, (Instructor Pilot and Trainee) managed to parachute to safety. No casualties other than the aircraft.
This is a breaking news story and we dont have the details on what caused the crash. Skies are clear today in SA, so it would seem mechanical failure
would be the most likely cause of the accident. To follow the story, see: www.kens5.com...
Congress took all the money away for the "Peace Divends" almost thirty years ago after the wall came down, and we've ironically been in semi-perpetual
state of war ever since. Rode hard and out up wet.
To give you a proper answer, we've got to go back a ways. In 1991, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force was the biggest son of a bitch since Curtis
LeMay, with a quarter of the brains and none of the cult of personality.
After Desert Storm, in which the F-117 proved that "this stealth crap" worked, he decreed that the Air Force would never buy another non stealthy
combat platform. In the three years before they began buying the F-22, the Air Force bought 18, 3, and 0 aircraft. Meanwhile, the Peace Dividends were
kicking in and we were starting to see more time on aircraft that were getting older as they started to do more with less. But it wasn't bad at that
point. Not good, but not totally screwed yet.
Fast forward to Sequestration. As the bill was making its way through Congress, the Secretaries basically ordered the Chiefs to do nothing to plan for
it. Their ultimate trump card would be that lack of planning. When Congress heard that they didn't have a plan in place to absorb the mandated cuts,
they'd kill or postpone the bill, thereby allowing them to sit back in their cushy offices, and kick the can down the road a little further.
Well surprise, the bill passed. So now the Chiefs are caught flat footed, with a required time limit to make the cuts, or they go across the boards
equally. So they sat down with their budget and looked for large chunks of money that wouldn't kill off any of their precious programs that were
guaranteeing them jobs after retirement. Take a wild guess what one of the biggest chunks of money just begging to have a flame thrower taken to it
Yep. Maintenance. So now you have aircraft deferring their depot level maintenance, layoffs at the depots, and bigger and bigger backlogs. Like years
of backlogs. And more and more missions with fewer and fewer aircraft and facing a huge pilot shortage.
So now, not only are we in this position, but they recently announced that if we were to get into a shooting war with Russia or China, the Air Force
can't do all the missions they'd be required to do. So their answer, announced yesterday, is to add 75 more squadrons to their force structure. That's
something like 18-24 aircraft per squadron. So we're looking at 10+ years to stand them all up, and that's if they can get anywhere near the pilots
for them all.
Over use and high time airframes. At one point a few years ago something like 90% of F-15s were in the last 5% of their planned life cycle, and
something like 5% had exceeded their planned life cycle.
Planned life cycle.. Just a couple of thoughts. The rover on Mars was supposed to last 90 days.. It would probably still be working if the Martian
dust storm had not happened..
The reason the whole planned life cycle IMO is more to do about money than the actual airframe. Same with expiration dates on some meds and food.
I did airshows in a 1948 Super Swift aircraft. The aircraft was called the Swift Fire and at one time had a gas turbine engine which allowed the
aircraft to do over 300mph @12,000.. The aircraft originally had an 85 HP engine and while I owned it I used a balanced and blue printed, with ceramic
coated cylinders in a Continental io360 which produced 245hp static instead of the normal 210hp.. The Swift Fire had been re-skinned and during
re-skinning all that was found was some corrosion in the horizontal tail surfaces which is normal for that type of tail dragger. I routinely pulled
5Gs in that aircraft and never popped a rivet or had any skin deformation.
This is a stock unmodified O300 145hp powered Swift doing a normal airshow. With the 145hp aircraft it is more about energy management than bruit
power.. I flew one for several years and had a blast while working on my aerobatic routine.. Again this is a 1948 aircraft ...just proper maintenance
and someone who cares enough to inspect and fix problems because their butt is in the aircraft ..youtu.be...
So if I (and many others) could fly a 1948 aircraft (I actually owned 3 Swifts a 145hp, a 180hp and finally the Swift Fire none younger than 1948) in
an airshow during season at least once + a week and work the bird hard why is it the airforce has such piss poor maintenance and reman procedures
unless it is all a plan to just drain more money from the government coffers ?
I had owned Pipers and Cessna's before my first Swift but after the Swift I never thought of owning anything else.
There are F-5s and Mig 21s flying for various countries all over the world and there just are not reports of them doing an inflight break-up on a
regular basis. Old Vietnam era F-5s are flown around here all the time but the military takes care of them instead of buying new.
Really this is not off topic IMO.. As people who know nothing about aircraft think when something is 20 years old it must be a POS.. That is true if
piss poor maintenance procedures are done.
This is what is called a super Swift which went through a rebuild in 2011... Not my aircraft... youtu.be...
His aircraft has 52 gallons total which is one option on fuel. The Swift Fire had 60 and was a much better fuel system.
His cockpit is very much like mine was however I had infinite variable flap control on the Swift Fire. I cruised best at 170 indicated and could push
it to 190 depending on the altitude. The original red line for a stock swift was 185 if I remember correctly but the Swift Fire would do 250 with the
blink of an eye and never pop a rivet..Not sure but I think the actual speed at 12,000 feet was 321 with the gas turbine.. That was when Lapresty (-1
sp) owned the aircraft and was using it for a test bed for the proposed Swift Fury which never went into manufacturing because of the price tag for
the new bird.
The T-6 has a Pratt Whitney PT6 Turboprop engine I assume by looking at the Cowl and exhaust. The Pt-6 is a very good engine if hot section
inspections are preformed at recommended time frames which was 1500 hours I think on all the ones I flew. We did have one engine blow up in flight on
a U-21 (aircraft landed safely) and I saw a Pt-6 Pilatus Turbo Porter doing a short field take off to impress some potential buyers have an engine
failure when less than 200 feet above the runway.
I was sitting at the end of the runway in a -8 powered Sabreliner when the event happened. The demo pilot had put minimum fuel onboard to get the most
performance out of the demo flight.. Unfortunately at the deck angle he had on takeoff (guessing somewhere between 45 and 60 degrees nose up) the fuel
could not feed the engine thus engine failure. 5 people died in that crash.
So back to my original point.. Aircraft that are well maintained (even the Navy who are terrible with their treatment and the environment of aircraft)
can be flown almost forever if well maintained.... just look at the B-52s. Of course the armed services claim it will be cheaper to buy new other than
do a rebuild plus with the new threats we need newer better stuff... which by the way they manage their stuff might be true but I doubt it.
We have to keep the military and all their Klingon suppliers busy and fat with overpriced parts and new acquisitions which are usually almost double
the first quoted/dreamed of price... I wonder what Ike would say if he could see the MIC cluster flock our acquisition system and maintenance has
turned out to be ?
Planned life cycles are generally set conservatively, and then stretched based on various things. The F-35 has already proven that it can go three
times longer than its original planned cycle. Aircraft can last decades, as we've seen, but depending on use can also not last as long as planned.
Most US fighters have undergone extensive fatigue testing that's pushed their life cycle out to half again over what it originally was set at.
At the same time, we're starting to see fatigue related issues crop up. Cracking showed up in F-16 wings and bulkheads, F-15s with longeron problems
from them being manufactured wrong to begin with, etc.
THANK YOU, Zaphod! Fantastic information and summarized several decades of complications down into something a dumb dumb such as myself can
understand. Many thanks!
Paragraphs 4 and 5 of your post are particularly disgusting but not particularly surprising. Those big hats with multiple stars on their shoulders,
the ones who make the decisions what to cut, how many of them are still flying when they make those decisions? I think I know the answer.
So how do the pilots feel about the situation? Does it affect morale? I'm guessing they just get on with it and do their jobs and don't complain
about it, but I am curious.
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