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Post Running Out of Gas in an F-4
Created by John Eipper on 09/14/17 4:18 AM

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Running Out of Gas in an F-4 (Michael Sullivan, USA, 09/14/17 4:18 am)

This is a followup to my post of September 12th. If you run the F-4 out of fuel and the engines quit, they will start to unwind and the RPM decreases immediately. Once the RPM drops below 53% the powered flight controls freeze and you're just along for the ride and must eject.

However, you can keep a nose-down attitude to keep the air speed up and engine RPMs above 53% but you're approaching the ground or water fairly rapidly. Depending on the altitude, if the engines flame out you may be able to glide for several miles while still being able to steer the aircraft, which could get you from land to over water for rescue by the US Navy which was preferred for Vietnam, so you wouldn't become a POW.

I have no idea of the nationality of the MiG pilots I mentioned earlier, but I believe the wingman was a "new guy." The Rules of Engagement stated you couldn't shoot unless you observed a hostile act or were cleared to shoot by GCI. There were only a few hostile acts ever committed by Cuban aircraft in all the years of US fighters were intercepting unknown aircraft above the 24 N. I remember one incident where a US fishing boat was dead in the water below 24 N, and Cuban jets made a couple of strafing passes on it but US fighters arrived too late to take any action.

In my earlier post I stated 28 deg. N was the "scramble" line when actually it was the 24 deg. N line. It's been about 55 years, so this morning 24 N popped into my mind after reading John's response and I looked it up on the map and 24 N is what it was!

JE comments: "You're just along for the ride"--what an example of USMC composure!  I would be saying something more along the lines of "Holy S#%$" or crying for Mommy.

I noticed, Michael, that you spoke of "running out of gas" (not jet fuel).  Is this a common way for Marine pilots to refer to their fuel supply, or were you "translating" for us civilians?


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  • Mid-Air Refueling: a Tutorial (Michael Sullivan, USA 09/15/17 2:19 PM)
    In response to John E's question about "gas" vs. "jet fuel," we use the term "gas" most of the time as it's so casual. We're always air refueling but we still call it "gas"!

    The air refueling tanker would say to us as we approached the tanker to refuel, "How much gas do you need?" Then we'd respond in "X" amount of gallons which translates to pounds on the aircraft's fuel gauge. Sounds confusing but it's very simple, and many times we air refuel in EMCON conditions which is no radio transmissions. There are three lights on the back of the tanker's refueling pod.



    Green: You're cleared to plug in and gas is flowing once plugged in and moving the hose up about half way to open the tanker's fuel valve to permit gas to flow.



    Amber: You're cleared to the stabilized position 3-5 ft. behind the refueling basket on the end of the tanker's hose that we plug into. We start from that position.


    Red: Not cleared to plug in or make an emergency breakaway if refueling, as there's an emergency with the tanker aircraft or its hose and drogue system.



    Navy and Marine aircraft use the hose and drogue system, while the USAF uses a boom from the refueler aircraft to plug into the refueling receptacle located on top of the receiver aircraft. The receiver pilot just flies formation under the tanker and the boom operator in the tanker does all the work!



    Navy and Marine aircraft can refuel on USAF tankers if they attach a short hose to the end of the boom, but there is no takeup reel so you can't vary your formation flying hardly at all, as you'll slip out. We do it all the time so it isn't a big deal. The problem for the USAF tankers is that they can either refuel USAF aircraft with the boom or Navy/Marine aircraft with the short hose attached to the boom. The decision is made prior to the tanker's take-off so they can configure the aircraft correctly. USAF aircraft can't use our hose and drogue system as they don't have an in-flght refueling probe.



    You have just had "Air-to-Air Refueling 101," and we're launching you tomorrow on your first air refueling hop...at night!


    JE comments: One quick definition.  Drogue (in tanker aircraft): "a funnel-shaped part on the end of the hose
    into which a probe is inserted by an aircraft being refueled in flight."



    Now I'm ready, General!


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  • Some Praise for WAIS: from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 09/15/17 5:02 PM)

    Gary Moore writes:



    So many great posts appear on WAIS that, as I feel compelled to
    thank Michael Sullivan for that fantastic cockpit tour over the Florida Straits
    in Castro Standard Time, I realize I'm slighting all the other WAIS landmarks
    that it felt too disingenuous to keep congratulating.


    I hope all those authors,
    too, realize how much is absorbed from their expertise, and how much unspoken
    impact they have--with all of it, of course, redounding to the credit of the central force
    that makes it all happen: the Sage of Adrian.


    JE comments:  Adrian has a sage?  (Blush.)  Thank you, Gary.  Yours is the perfect post to set the tone for the weekend.  Here in Adrian it's promising to be a beautiful one:  sunny and in the upper 70s (24-25C).

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