June 2011 Issue

Yanking And Banking

Rolling G forces—pitching and banking at the same time—can overstress the airframe. Instead, do one, then the other.

I watched a demonstration by the pilot of a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor on one of the nicer weather-days at this year’s Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo (the day before the tornado hit). The Raptor’s most unique characteristic—from an observer’s standpoint and in addition to its efficient conversation of fuel into noise—is its ability to maneuver at extremely high angles of attack—maintaining a constant AoA of over 60 deg. in sustained flight. Watch an F-22—or any other high-performance aircraft—maneuver, however, and you may notice an interesting pattern. Any time the fighter changes attitude under a G-load, the pilot does so incrementally. He or she changes pitch, then changes bank, or the pilot changes bank and then changes pitch. You never see a radical pitch and bank change simultaneously.

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