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Lockheed Martin F-35

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Mailman, Jan 24, 2019.

  1. JCE

    JCE XS650 Enthusiast

    CA, USA
    Lots of great stories here!!
    I spent the better part of the early 90s/2k working at Lockheed and NASA Ames, which is next to Moffett Air Field where they trained U2 spy plane & blackhawk pilots. Several mornings each week at 6am you could watch the U2 planes take off at about a 60 degree angle, afterburners shaking the ground, and rocket into the stratosphere until you lost sight of them. I had a special spot outside my building's roof access where I'd sip my coffee and watch the 2 min show. Never got boring.

    TwoManyXS1Bs, Jim, GLJ and 5 others like this.
  2. FB71

    FB71 Expert Turd Polisher

    When I was stationed in Italy for Deny Flight in '93, we bunked with the Marines in their tent city. Leftover stuff from Desert Storm/Success. Deny Flight in Bosnia loaded up all the local billeting, so this was our option, which was fine with me. I was a Mobile Aerial Porter (60555/2T255), so I was used to bivouacing with the Army (insert ChAir Force jokes here... :D). Tent city was on the south side, east end of the runway, maybe 500 ft away. Flight path was east to west, so we were at throttle-up/touchdown for flight operations. Every 15 min, a pair of craft would take off, and a pair would land 7 min later. Aircraft on sortie were F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, CH-46/47, UH-60. We also had C-130/L-100, and C-141, and some Italian and German small cargo craft. Also saw a few MH-53 and AV-8. We worked 12 hr shifts, so in my off time, I'd just sit a lawn chair outside and watch aircraft come and go, while enjoying my favorite adult beverages... :D. F-15 afterburners at night are always a treat.

    Side note; because of my security clearance (I worked in electronic security in my civilian life at that time, and had numerous military installation and contractor sites as customers), I was tasked with a bit more 'sensitive' work than many others. I spent most of my time transporting undisclosed cargo from the cargo aircraft 'hotspot' (a half mile away from the active runway) to the munitions bunker. Top permitted speed of my 40k lb loader, while laden with these items, was a blistering 5mph! Two Detroit diesels just cackling away for almost a half hour trip...
    TwoManyXS1Bs, gggGary, Jim and 2 others like this.
  3. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    I’m beginning to think there is a book in you!
    gggGary, Jim and FB71 like this.
  4. txxs

    txxs XS650 Addict

    Some nice photos.
    In school my favourite was the F4 (Phantom).
    gggGary, Mailman and Jim like this.
  5. FB71

    FB71 Expert Turd Polisher

    I've been told that once or twice... :)
    TwoManyXS1Bs, Mailman and Jim like this.
  6. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    One of my closest friends through the years was a gentleman named Sam Smyth who lived in La Canada Calif (near Pasadena). Sam was born in 1924 in Los Angeles and he lived his entire life in the LA area. As was the case with most young Americans of his vintage, Sam wanted to join the military but bad lungs caused by a childhood ailment made him ineligible, so he did the next best thing and entered the defense industry. Sam became an engineering draughtsman at Lockheed in Burbank in 1942 (age 18). The design team was led by the famous Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson and the local products were Hudson, Ventura and Harpoon patrol bombers and of course, the P38 Lightning. Sam worked at Lockheed while taking engineering courses at night at LA City College.

    At the end of the war, he left Lockheed to complete his degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Univ. of Colorado. Once he was past that milestone, Sam returned to Lockheed as a full-fledged engineer in 1946 and remained there until he retired in about 1990. He started out as a stress analysis engineer and one assignment he talked about was leading the design team on the wing skins for the P3 Orion ASW/patrol bomber (a variant of the L188 Electra turboprop airliner). The Electra didn’t do too well in commercial service as Douglas and Boeing took over the long range market with their slightly later, but faster turbojet DC-8 and B707 models. Also, the Electra had a whirl-mode engine mount vibration issue which resulted in several fatal crashes and ruining its reputation as a safe airplane. If you’ve ever watched “Ice Pilots” on the History Channel - Buffalo Airways has one or two operational Electra’s in the fleet. The P3 however was a resounding success and has been, and remains, in service for decades with air forces around the Free World.

    The period from the late 1940s through to the early 1990s was sort of a “golden age” of aviation in the world and few places made more gold than Southern California with Lockheed, Douglas, North American, Consolidated and all of their suppliers (and I’ve likely forgotten some) all located within a few miles of each other in the LA-SD areas. The number of new military acquisition programs and the pace of R&D and simple performance progress leading to new model introductions in the 1950s-60s was nothing short of astounding. Think of size and scope of the US Century Series, the number of different US Navy fighters and attack aircraft from Vought, Grumman and Douglas and the amazing 5000 plane run of McDonnell F4 Phantom and later F15 programs, the multiple large bomber programs in the US (B36, B45, B47, B52, B70) and UK (Valiant, Victor and Vulcan plus the groundbreaking TSR2) and the unique (and highly successful) Hawker Kestrel/Harrier VTOL fighter, also in the UK. Moving forward, there were a large number of military and civil transport aircraft projects ranging from the 1950s piston-engined variants of Boeing bombers, Lockheed Constellations, Douglas DC4-7 series piston transports in the US through to the European contributions like the DeHavilland Comet, BAC One-Eleven, Fokker F-series, French Caravelle and the elegant Vickers VC10 aircraft to the enormous success of the DeHavilland Canada bush planes and later Dash DHC7 & DHC8 regional transports built near me in Toronto which were powered by the incredibly prolific Montreal-based Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6/PWC100 small turboshaft engine lines.

    There were exciting and fun projects everywhere and everyone (including several Forum members like Fred Hill, as well as my buddy Sam Smyth at Lockheed) were in the thick of it.

    Sam had a particularly exciting career because when he returned from Colorado in 1946, Kelly Johnson was recruiting the best and brightest for the new Advanced Development Projects or ADP division of Lockheed California. Sam was one of the earliest recruits to what would become the “Skunk Works” division. It started in Burbank, but eventually moved out to the desert town of Palmdale near Edwards AFB - where it still operates. Sam commuted from La Canada to Palmdale every day for many years and for a time, he was in a car-pool with Ben Rich who succeeded Kelly Johnson as head of the Skunk Works. Sam was very well-connected.

    Sam’s specialty was configuration design which basically meant taking all of the stuff that had to go inside the airplane (as determined by the structures, hydraulics, electronics, weapons and other systems people), the engines and fuel (as specified by the powerplant and performance types) and fitting it into the aerodynamic shape of the outside of the aircraft (as designed by the aerodynamics people). This configuration design task was foundational to bringing a design successfully from the concept stage to the production floor and eventually onto the flight line. It required a very deep understanding of nearly every other field of aeronautical engineering plus a whole other set of skills in project management and handling people.

    He wasn’t able to tell me about all of the projects on which he had worked, but Sam did note several which included the:
    • S3 Viking ASW aircraft for the USN
    • F104 Starfighter
    • U2 surveillance airplane (Sam met and knew Frank Powers quite well). Did you know that the U2 fuselage was basically similar to that of the F104?
    • SR71 Blackbird series of M3.0 reconnaissance aircraft (incl. the YF12 interceptor variant that was slated to carry the remarkable Hughes AIM54 Phoenix missile that eventually was deployed on the F14 Tomcat)
    • experimental Lockheed Sea Shadow low-observable “stealth” ship (look it up - fascinating)
    • the F117 Nighthawk “stealth” fighter including the earlier Have Blue tech demonstrator precursor a/c (again, check it out)
    He told me that there was a whole laundry-list of other projects to which he had contributed that he could not describe because he’d never been given a release to do so (even though a number of them were being blabbed about by others). Sam took security and his obligations as an American very seriously - and yet he and I formed a tremendously close bond that I will always treasure. We attended every single Open House Day at Edwards AFB from 1994 through to 2011 when his health began to fail - and ya wanna talk air shows....yeah baby!

    One aspect of Sam’s career that I’ll close with is the use of advanced design technologies like computer graphics, computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAM). He told me that some of the new shapes on which Lockheed was working in the early 1960s were too complex for manual drafting and so they began to employ computers which required mathematical descriptions of the curved shapes - and Sam was good at math. That early CAD system was called CADAM and Lockheed basically invented most of the technologies associated with it - in-house. Sam was part of that small group of experts (I think around 8-15 people, but that might not be correct). The Lockheed CADAM system was eventually sold to Dassault of France and renamed CATIA. Later versions of CATIA are still widely employed throughout the aerospace and automotive industries to this day.

    I met Sam at the SAE Aerospace Congress in Long Beach in 1993. He gave a talk on the history of the aircraft industry in Southern California and ended his talk with a trivia contest. He posed about 5 questions of the audience and promised to buy lunch for anyone who could answer all 5 questions. The rest is history (and lunch was delicious). Sam and I continued to pose aviation trivia questions to each other till he died in May 2012 - what a blast. Examples included:
    - what was the formal designation of the V1 buzz-bomb and which German aircraft company built it?
    - who was Wing Commander Malcolm and what did he develop?
    - what was the first turboprop aircraft engine, what company built it and on which aircraft did it fly?
    - how many bolts were used to secured the supercharger casing to the engine block of an RR Merlin engine?

    What a cool guy and what a tremendous American patriot. Sam was, IMO, the ultimate aircraft guy.

    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  7. Mailman

    Mailman Hardly a Guru Top Contributor

    Very cool story Pete. You should’ve been an aircraft engineer, it’s easy to see the passion you have for it!

    Btw, I used to work with a fellow at the Post Office who was a retired aircraft mechanic. He also worked on the stealth fighter program in total secrecy. He told me how everyone who worked on the program was transported to the base, where they would spend the week and then returned to wherever they came from, and no one was allowed to tell anyone where they went or what they were working on. This went on for a long time.
    About a decade after the plane had been revealed he and everyone who worked on the program were invited to return for a reunion. He went and they gave everyone a commerative DVD about the program and the people involved. He was very proud of his involvement in that program, but like your friend, wouldn’t discuss details.
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  8. motormike

    motormike XS650 Junkie XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    In the early 60's spent a summer on a ranch that was adjacent to Beale air force base.... home of the Blackbird, Sr-71... A-12's ? I use to watch them take off and land with chute deployment. Big azz bird. Had no idea what it was all about then.. think I was 12 yrs old.
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  9. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Anybody experience a mach 1+ flyby?
    Jim and MaxPete like this.
  10. Jim

    Jim Beyond the edge is the unknown. Here be Dragons XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yup. Being an Air Force brat in the 50's and 60's had it's benefits. ;)
  11. azman857

    azman857 '80 XS 650SG Rider XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    At the last airshow at D-M a F-4 (if I recall correctly) did a transonic flyby. Some cone shaped clouds formed around the main body.
  12. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Yup - I’ve seen/heard several low altitude M1.0+ passes and my friend Sam and I were present when the last SR71 made a Mach 3.0 / 80,000 ft fly over at (I think) the 2011 Edwards AFB Open House. I’m pretty sure the aircraft was being flown back to DC for retirement and display.

    It was incredible experience: we watched him take off and do a couple of low passes. Then he flew out over the Pacific to refuel and do his climb-dive (to accelerate to > M1.0+)-climb to 80,000’ manoeuvre. As the Air Force vets can tell us, SR71s leak a lot of fuel when the airframe is cold, but the leaks seal-up when she heats up to operating temperature (well over 500 deg. F and more depending on the location on the airframe) and the airframe grows by several inches due to thermal expansion. The climb-dive-climb manoeuvre enables the aircraft to reach Mach 3.0 much more quickly while using far less fuel than if the pilot simply opened the throttles. The transition to supersonic flight normally took place at (I think) around 20-25000 feet and then up they’d go.

    After a short time, the SR passed over the Edwards flight line at height. At that altitude (more than 15 miles), the aircraft is not visible from the ground and so the announcer prepared the crowd by telling us that the pilot would open the fuel vent three times (for Mach 3.0) for one second each when he was directly over the flight line. We were then told that the supersonic shockwave (the “boom”) would arrive at ground level about (I think) 10-15 seconds later.

    So, we saw and heard nothing (and there was total silence in the crowd of about 100,000) and then three stripes of white fuel vapour appeared overhead, followed a short time later by the sound of two fine maple and oak hockey sticks being broken: CRACK-CRACK in rapid succession.

    Amazing, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
  13. fredintoon

    fredintoon Fred Hill, S'toon. Top Contributor

    Went to an airshow in the UK back in the 1950s.
    Wallowed in nostalgia at the Spitfire flyover.
    Swelled with pride watching the RAF Hawker Hunter display team's close order aerobatic display.
    Then four USAF Super-Sabers ghosted in from behind the parking lot, went to reheat at the field's edge and exited straight up.
    I just about wet myself.
  14. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Kinda hard to maintain visual stealth with those...
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