• Looking For A Thunderstreak

    Looking For A Thunderstreak

    By Alejandro Hurtado (16 August 2009)

    Anybody has read "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"? It's about a fligtsimmer trapped in a seagull body...Please, don't believe that. JLS is one of those books that anybody must read sometime. But the writer, Richard Bach, has made many other good aviation books. One of them is "Stranger to the Ground". This one, no joke, is about a flight the writer made in a F-84F Thunderstreak from Wethersfield to Chamount one unspecified night of 1961.

    After finding the Gimli Glider in the FlightSim.Com library, I half suspected to find the Richard Bach plane in the same place, but... nope, no such luck. Well, I always can do the repaint by myself. I half suspected too to be easy to write this article, just to take the book, remove the poetic parts and leave the technical ones. But, even as the book has some very detailed panel drawings, engine and handling information, and some F-86F silhouettes, there aren't details about this specific plane, except that it was a F-84F, silver painted, from the Air National Guard, number id 2-9405. The web... looking at the web I found information about the New Jersey ANG 141st Tactical Fighter Squadron, deployed in 1961 at Chamount base, returning to the United states one year later, leaving its Thunderstreaks behind. But... there are very few pictures of the 141 Squadron, and each one seems to be very different of the others. Even the plane numbers seems to be wrong. At last I found a picture of the plane number 1-9405, the most posible candidate to be the one depicted in the book. I don't think it would have been a mistake, I better think that the lack of pictures and the slight change of numbers are due to the cold war secrecy, and the crisis of Berlin. After all, Richard Bach was an active military pilot. As I said, this is the most probable candidate, but, will somebody send me a trustable picture of the F-84F manned by Richard Bach?

    Finding the picture, I needed a F-84F model. I found some repaints in the file library, and just two models: the one released from Alphasim and the one made by Kazunori Ito, a well know modeler. Both of them will be angry if I release a complete repaint, so... I'll do the textures, and you must make the final assembling part. Just download the files F84F_708.ZIP and TXTAH05.ZIP, and install.

    The repaint was easy, I just removed the wrong badges, added the correct ones, added a bit of blue to improve the metal appearance... and voila! If you want to write with the cornered characters the USAF uses, you must download a file called amarillousaf.fnt, and install it in your computer (you know, Start, Control Panel, Fonts).

    By the way, I must confess that I've become an occasional flightsimmer. When you have bought a new house, in a dormitory-city, without internet, with power and water shortages, well... it's hard to be in touch with all of you. It's hard to forget too the idea that God was trying very hard to tell me something important the day I saw my new home but I was "beyond coverture area / signal lost". The good part: it's big, ventilated, looks good, and once I repair it, will be a very good home.

    Once downloaded the Kazuori Ito file, and installed my repaint, we are supposed to place ourselves on Wethersfield, runway 28, at noon by 21.30. The flight plan, VFR, is: take off from Wethersfield, climb to flight level 330, straight to Abbeville, straight to Laon, straight to Spandahlen, straight to Wiesbaden, straight to Phalsbourg, landing at Chamount. Total time 1 hour 29 minutes. We are taking an indirect route due to the bad weather and heavy thunderstorms. But there isn't any Wethersfield airport in FS2004, maybe because it was closed. So, the nearest asphalt active runway is Wattisham Army.

    We will take off with sparse clouds, at low level. Wind 15 knots, from 270°. The Thunderstreak suffered poor takeoff performance. In reality, almost 700 pounds-force (3.11 kN) or 10 percent of total thrust was lost because the J65 was installed at an angle and its exhaust had a prominent kink. On a hot day, 7,500 feet (2,285 m) of runway were required for takeoff roll. Today, at night, will be less. A typical takeoff speed was 160 knots (185 mph, 300 km/h). Once we reach FL330, we'll establish Mach 0.8 as our cruise speed, with 94% RPM. The book teaches us many details that our loved Flight Simulator can't reproduce, like the J65 engine tendency to have blade stalls. Or the intensity of the formation lights. The chill of the mask. The... oh, please! Buy the book!

    Our first destination is Abbeville, but the panel that came with Kazunori Ito's plane doesn't have radiogoniometer or TACAN. Instead, it comes with a GPS. So, select Abbeville (ABB) and fly by hand, without autopilot, straight and level as the original one did. This first leg is easy, same as the one from Abbeville to Laon (LFAF). I was surprised when I selected the external view and saw a light falling straight down from the nose doors. A BIG glitch. I'm sorry that I can't fix it. The only one who can legaly do it is the maker, Kazuory Ito. But, until he fixes it, we must conform us with the model we have.

    About problems with the files I reviewed, I'm including a disclaimer and an acknowlegement at the bottom of this article. Oh, yes, I've received many emails. Many of them I've answered (except the one asking me how to land a 737). Thanks for all (even this). But each time I want to make an article or a repaint, there is a crisis. I owe two articles: one about the CFNJE, a PBY-5A who crashed in a lake (PBY5AH58.ZIP), and now is being repaired, and another article about Space Flight Simulation/Bed Rest Study (Scientific term, Flight Analogs Project) for NASA. There is some interesting information in www.bedreststudy.com. I'm sorry about the delay. But I'll write both articles... someday...

    Once over Laon, the climatic conditions change: we have clouds up to 30,000 feet. And, the radio starts to fail. Of course, it's not important to us, but it will be something to worry in real life. The next destination is Spangdahlem (ETAD), with heavy clouds topping at flight level 350, sparse lightning, without turbulence. The radio is working again.

    Reaching Wiesbaden (ETOU), without radio, the climate is worsening very fast, until we must select the ugliest climate that our loved simulator can offer: snow, thunderstorms, freezing, heavy turbulence. The top of the thunderstorms is 45,000 feet, and near Phalsbourg (LFQP) the real plane had very serious problems: 1/2 mile visibility, wind 35 knots at 270 degrees, ice over the windshield, jet intake freezing, loss of power, loss of control, all the air driven instruments malfunctioning...

    The Thunderstreak suffered from accelerated stall pitch-up and potential resulting separation of wings from the airplane. In addition, spins in the F-84F were practically unrecoverable and ejection was the only recourse below 10,000 feet. In this case, the pilot/writer chose not to jump, because he believed that the parachute will be sheared by the hailstorm. He losted control, falling until the clouds broke at 3000 feet... and still descending.

    Luckily, he regained control, the ice started to melt, and once the air intake get free of ice and the RPM climbed to 100% again, he gained altitude until reaching 40000 feet, over the assigned altitude but at a safe place (light turbulence, without freezing). Suddenly, the cloud layer broke, and he found himself with clear air over the 20000 foot level, without turbulence. We, as Richard Bach did, will return to flight level 330, 95% RPM.

    Reaching Chamount (LFJA), the visibility is 5 miles, soft rain, clouds over 900 feet. The radio started to work again. He requested a controled ground approach (CGA). We can't have this in our flight simulator, but we can contact Chamount, request a landing and ask our position every half minute. The landing will be done at 165 knots, with a parachute braking after touching the asphalt.

    Some data about the F-84F, from the wikipedia:

    Maximum speed: 695 mph (604 knots, 1,119 km/h) at sea level
    Range: 810 miles (704 nm, 1,304 km) combat radius with two drop tanks
    Service ceiling 46,000 ft (14,000 m)
    Rate of climb: 8,200 ft/min (42 m/s)

    Disclaimer: Since I started to write for FlightSim.Com, I've been receiving sparce letters about some specific problems with some specific models in some specific computers (Yes, it sounds very specific). It seems that any plane that works well in 99.99% of the computers will have problems in the remaining 0.01%. Not always the same problem, but some different in any case. I've always tried to help my readers, but now I'm going to make two bad mood notes here:

    First, I'm downloading all my reviews and testing the files in MY machines, two Dual Core with 1GB RAM, Windows XP and FS2004. If it works well, I do the review.

    Second, I'm not the maker of the plane. Sometimes I can help my readers, but mostly I can only say to him to write to the developer. Remember, I have absolutely no relation with him except that I downloaded one of his planes and tested it. Sometimes the man is even dead.

    Why am I writing that? Because recently I received an offensive email blaming me about problems with the loading of a plane I recomended. My friend, it works in my machine, works perfectly in 99.99% of the machines, you have paid nothing and I'm not the developer, sorry. Just don't use it and that's all.

    Luckily, the rest of the emails I receive use to be very amiable ones, telling me the parts you prefer, giving me new ideas, telling me how to make improvements, giving me personal memories about the real planes and so on. To all of them, thanks, I'll do my best to keep giving you good relaxing moments.

    And aknoweledge: Recently I received two emails from "David F." The first one says:

    Hello Alejandro, liked your write up of the Mossie, so downloaded it and luckily it worked in fs2002. Tried out your flight plan at 20000 ft and yes your speed is correct .. However that 250 knots or so is IAS (indicated air speed) on the ASI True airspeed (TAS) at that alt. would be much more. A 737 is a 250 kt IAS machine at 35000 ft but that translate to Mach .76 ish and 420 kts TAS or for eta's 7 nm per min. Another example is landing at high altitude a/p's like Jo'burg 5500 ft up. Normal approach speed on a 744 with flap 30 is about 145 kt IAS but TAS is approx 30+ kts faster; and you certainly notice the last 50 ft is a rush compared with sea level landing. I'll try and check out IAS/TAS diff at 20000 ft next time I work and let you know. Hope this helps and is not teaching grandma to suck eggs as we say. Regards Dave F.

    The second says:

    Lo Alejandro, hope its not intruding, but had a further thought and got out the old 1971 computer 4" x 5" 1/4 " thick, no electrics! whizzed the wheel round, well slowly as had not done this in years 20000 ft in standard atmosphere is about -25 C, whizz wheel TAS against RAS (much the same as IAS) gets 335 kt TAS for an RAS (IAS) of 250 kt. which is in the ballpark for the Mossie. Another way is perhaps to time yourself in still air over a measured distance, to or from a VOR/DME. Hope this helps, if not apologies and disregard. Liked your review and the model Regards Dave F.

    Well, Dave, you teach me that there are eggs. The TAS definition I read was something like "the plane speed against the ground", so I always assumed that it was the IAS plus or minus the wind airspeed. I'm ashamed to confess that I don't remembered that any altitude, density and temperature corrections where made by the pilot and not by the instruments. I thank you by teaching me something new, or at least, something I've read MANY time but never cached. In my next article, I'll write the corrected TAS of my previous reviews.

    Alejandro Hurtado
    [email protected]


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