Flight Report 14 November 1960
FTFES (Richard Harer)
This report will be restricted to a qualitative discussion of the flight and a few personal impressions of the preflight preparations and results.
The cockpit preflight check was accomplished very efficiently. After the canopy was closed and locked, there was more than enough time to make a complete check on pilot ability to see and reach every item in the cockpit.
The take-off and climb appeared normal with a sufficient amount of time to accomplish all items on the check list. Through a misunderstanding, the APU starting was delayed while waiting for mixing chamber temperatures to reach -40°. However, the schedule matched the time again at the four minute mark. With this exception there was no time prior to launch that I felt pressed for time. The check list has been condensed very satisfactorily.
The launch seemed to be as expected, i.e., the slight roll off and fly away rather than drop, although the clanking sound was not anticipated. The chamber ignition appeared normal. The aircraft attitude and angle of attack through the launch, lite-off, and start of climb was as expected. The latter portion of the climb and pushover did not match the simulator work that I had practiced. I was not prepared for the aircraft attitude just prior to pushover, perhaps because I expected to have a horizon reference on either side. The pushover was accomplished with better control in the aircraft than the simulator. In general, the SAS on and off stability matched the simulator. SAS on stability was good throughout the speed range flown. The aircraft control forces were very good; better than anticipated from simulator work.
During the entry to the steady sideslip at approximately 1.9 Mn, there was a noticeable negative dihedral effect until maximum rudder displacement was obtained.
During the glide the speed brakes were used several times to control speed and altitude. Speed brake extension did not appear to be as much a problem as retraction. It was partially due to the leverage applied to the handles.
The landing pattern was very comfortable at 300 KIAS. The turn into base leg was made approximately one mile north of the desired turn point because of the altitude at this point. The pattern was changed on the down wind leg, caused by the winds and/or use of the speed brakes which resulted in the 3-3 1/2 mile touchdown point. At touchdown the skids can be felt or heard and the jolt of the nose gear contact was not considered objectionable. The amount of cloud coverage on approach and landing was not noticeable and did not cause any concern. The strong winds at altitude affected the flight pattern to some extent. The landing crosswind (17-25 knots at 070°) caused very little drift prior to touchdown.
The preparations made for this flight were justifiable and sufficiently adequate. The simulator practice was accurate and invaluable. The engine ground runs can be classified the same.
The familiarity derived from pressure suit chamber runs and TF-102 flights made the suit compatible to the environment. Several times during the climb it was apparent that direct sunlight in the cockpit and the reflection on the face plate made it difficult to see some parts of the cockpit. This condition is more apparent in the X-15 than the TF-102 because of the darker cockpit. Throughout the flight one quarter turn of suit vent was used with heat on low. Low face plate heat was used throughout. These settings provided a comfortable (warm) suit temperature.
The practice accomplished in the F-104 for approach and landings was considered very accurate from 25,000 feet on the downwind to near touchdown at 200 KIAS. This simulation and one landing has virtually eliminated any anxiety during the approach and landing phase.
There are two (2) minor changes in the cockpit worthy of consideration:
1. Reverse the guard over the ventral jettison switch.
2. Install a metal guard over the fire extinguisher switch.
Robert A. Rushworth