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So About That F-35…

Well, the missing jet has been located… or at least, the wreckage has been found. And fortunately, the pilot is safe and uninjured. But there are still a few things that are strange about this incident, and 1,000-hour, instrument-rated, military wanna-be pilot Bill Whittle has some questions about one thing in particular that doesn’t seem to add up.

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David Slosson
October 5, 2023 7:09 PM

Final reports stated the plane was 80 miles north of the base, not a couple hundred miles. The rest of this discussion seemed on track, even in hindsight.

Jim Urion
October 2, 2023 6:25 PM

There is precedent to this which dates from 1970. The aircraft was an F-106A and the pilot’s ejection wound up flying until finally landing (gear up, of course) in a rancher’s field near Big Sandy, MT. The plane had entered a flat spin and after the canopy parted ways with the aircraft during the ejection, the airflow and center of gravity was altered enough that it stopped the flat spin and then continued to fly. Here is a link to the story”

https://www.historynet.com/f-106-the-cornfield-bomber/

Lawrence Roth
October 2, 2023 7:42 AM

This of course, is pure speculation on my part, but I recall a news report on the progress of autonomous vehicle research, which was some time ago. That report detailed an experiment which removed control of the vehicle from the driver. Scary because they managed to make it happen. In an era where electronics drives much of our industry, it is important to remember the weakness of both software & hardware. Even if this instance was not a hack, what if it were possible for the operational software to go “stupid”? I know connections on military equipment are filtered against… Read more »

Wesley Bruce
October 1, 2023 10:47 PM

The US Navy insisted that the USS Fitzgerald and the USS McCain were not hacked at all but they also replaced all the sail by wire software and hardware worldwide in both navy and civilian ships and installed hydraulic back up steering on all of them. When the Pentagon says it impossible to hack get an off line back up. All you need is one Chinese chip.

Wesley Bruce
October 1, 2023 10:20 PM

One option is that the attitude indicator reading and altimeter may have been badly wrong. Both are fully digital in the plane. There is no analog backups. He thought he was in an uncontrollable dive and could not pull out so he ejected thinking the plane would hit the ground but once out of the plane he realizes that its flying straight and level and he is much higher than the altimeter said. He sees the plane fly off.  Very early in flying history frozen attitude and altimeters were a thing with both aircraft and airships with this result. The… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Wesley Bruce
Henry Merritt
October 1, 2023 7:30 PM

I was an avionics tech in Marine helicopters 50 years ago, but one possible reason for an unneeded ejection could be a sensor or software problem that caused a critical message on the master caution panel that was actually a bogus problem.
In twin rotor head choppers a “chip detector” message would indicate the transmission shaft between the two rotor heads was failing. This would cause auto rotation to fail and the craft would fly like a brick.
This pilot may have thought his craft was about to experience catastrophic failure. Semper Fi!

Ken Miller
October 1, 2023 4:47 PM

Thank you for being the first person who has understood that it’s not surprising that low-observable aircraft are low-observable. So, the F-35B has a feature that the A (Air Force) and C (Navy) don’t – forced ejection. That pilot may have been just as surprised at his ejection as the rest of us. As for whether or not his life was in danger where he landed… have you BEEN to North Charleston? If he’s inside the Mark Clark or on Ashley Phosphate, he’s in big trouble. And, as for how far the aircraft can fly with a fire or malfunction… Read more »

Last edited 7 months ago by Ken Miller
David Bockstanz
October 1, 2023 1:21 PM

Why didn’t the pilot turn the plane Around and have it head out to sea?

DAVID STANTON
October 1, 2023 12:09 PM

The cloud of secrecy suggests to me that the pilot may be a member of some politically correct specially “protected” group.

ACTS (TM)
Reply to  DAVID STANTON
October 1, 2023 2:27 PM

Meh, maybe but there’s a lot of other reasons why the details would be kept secret too. Like for instance a flaw or failure in the aircraft that could be exploited by our enemies. Among other things. As a Naval Officer I’m sure you’re aware of that.

Stephen Moulding
October 1, 2023 10:56 AM

Just one small quibble. Scott, the F35 is not a quiet aircraft. Living near Hill AFB in Utah, I can attest to the extreme loudness of these jets as they fly overhead while on maneuvers. A constant reminder that these are the sounds of freedom.
My take on this is that they are so otherwise stealthy that they are long over the target before sound reaches the ground or whatever other targets. Go USA!