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  Space shuttle "captain's" Spitfire flight at Boultbee

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Author Topic:   Space shuttle "captain's" Spitfire flight at Boultbee
moorouge
Member

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 10-14-2012 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In his column for The Telegraph, Alex James recalls being told that a shuttle 'captain' flew a WW2 Spitfire whilst on a course at the Boultbee Flight Academy.
Apparently a space shuttle captain had done the course the week before and said it was the best flight of his life.
Anyone any idea who this was?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-14-2012 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was Rick Searfoss.
Rick Searfoss, a retired USAF Colonel and NASA Astronaut was the winning bidder at a fundraising dinner in benefit of Fly2help, winning an Academy Introduction Course donated by Boultbee Flight Academy. Rick flew the Chipmunk and then the Harvard before flying the Spitfire.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-20-2012 07:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anyone know if he got a chance to take a standard single seat Spitfire up, or did he instead fly one of the Tr9 Spitfire two seat trainers (part of a batch of airframes converted to trainers for the Irish air corps after WW2, three of them fly the warbird circuit in England these days after they transfered to private ownership)?

dabolton
Member

Posts: 215
From: Round Lake, IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 10-20-2012 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The fact of seasoned military jet pilots/shuttle pilots getting an opportunity to fly older plane doesnt seem to surprising to me. They are the best-of-the-best flyers.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-21-2012 01:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe so, but WW2 fighters don't fly like civilian prop aircraft or jet fighters. They have their own idiosyncracies and foibles (and engine management issues). Too many relatively inexperienced warbird pilots have stuffed planes in the dirt (usually P-51s), even though they might have hundreds or thousands of hours in fast jets. So getting stick time in prop fighter trainers is VERY important before a jet pilot can be turned loose in a Spitfire.

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 10-21-2012 05:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So very true. I've done time on a few-dual-control hot prop jobs in my time, including T-6 and a P-51. I once saw a Navy F-14 pilot with over 2000 time in that type almost turn a Corsair into a lawn dart. Yeah, flying is flying, but just as a red-hot jet jock couldn't hop into the shuttle and land it right away, there's a reason that transition time between airplane types is so important.

Sure, in WW2 they often threw teenagers into airplanes with no clue how to even start them up and were told to fly it somewhere (the 'sink or swim' method so many countries used at the time), but people forget how many kids were killed doing just that.

gliderpilotuk
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Posts: 3043
From: London, UK
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-22-2012 04:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given that these are the requirements it is highly unlikely that he went solo. Plus, flying in the UK is a LOT more restrictive than in the US - weather, controlled airspace etc.
Prerequisites: Current ICAO SEP PPL holder with medical, Chipmunk Conversion Course (or similar), Chipmunk Advanced Course (or similar), Harvard Conversion Course (or similar), and 1000hrs TT as an absolute minimum. Candidates for the abridged course will have to already have Tail wheel, Complex and High performance endorsements and experience on a similar type.

In exceptional circumstances, and only once Instructor pilots are satisfied with student performance, students may be allowed to solo the aircraft.

Jim Behling
Member

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 10-22-2012 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by dabolton:
The fact of seasoned military jet pilots/shuttle pilots getting an opportunity to fly older plane doesnt seem to surprising to me. They are the best-of-the-best flyers.

Unsubstantiated

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 10-23-2012 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The main difference between the flyers in WW2 versus today's jet pilots is a pilot with a relatively small number of hours has had ALL of them in a prop aircraft. A jet guy has to spend time "unlearning" what they have built up over the years as some of their experiences can be counter-intuitive to what they need to do.

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 10-23-2012 10:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, but that goes both ways. For example, when Navy carrier pilots first went to jets, they found that landing one on the deck of a carrier was totally different than any prop airplane.

Accordingly, a lot of carriers needed paint jobs in the early jet era when pilots used to props schwacked the fantails of their ships while landing because a jet lands totally different.

It's a heck of a transition regardless what you're doing. I know of a USAF test pilot with thousand of hours in anything you can imagine with wings who, stepping into a simple UH-1 helicopter, almost killed himself the first time he lifted off the ground in it. I personally flew with a F-15 Strike eagle jock who almost put the T-6 we were in into a corn field on takeoff, all due to poor transition from one type to another. Doesn't make any of them poor pilots, it just takes a pilot who has the courage to look the type instructor in the eye and say, "I don't know jack about this airplane, what do I need to know?"

All times are CT (US)

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