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F-16 FIGHTING FALCON A FLYING TEST BED FOR AERODYNAMIC AND AVIONICS TESTING FOR MORE THAN 27 YEARS In the early 1970s the Air Force was in need of an inexpensive fighter aircraft to supplement its new and expensive air superiority fighter the F-15 Eagle Two aircraft were created for this mission The YF-16 Falcon came from General Dynamics and the YF-17 Cobra from Northrop The YF-16 rolled out of its Fort Worth hanger on December 13 1973 and was put on a C-5 to be transported to Edwards AFB California for testing The first flight happened on January 21 1974 by accident Test pilot Phil Oestricher was attempting the first high-speed taxi when the nose started to lift off of the runway The YF-16 which was the first aircraft to use a fixed stick because of its fly-by-wire flight controls started to veer off to the left Instead of plowing into the desert he decided to take off he flew the pattern for six minutes and landed uneventfully It didnt take the program long to come up to speed soon the YF-16 reached speeds over Mach 20 and pulling aver 9Gs Part of the reason this aircraft could pull so many Gs was because of the seat it was inclined 30 degrees to reduce the effects of G-force upon pilots An interesting fact is that the YF-16 and YF-17 never faced each other but flew against MIG-17s and MIG-21s that the USAF had acquired The YF-16 won the competition and what is probably the most versatile aircraft in the world was born As a side note the YF-17 program was later targeted towards the Navy and became the FA-18 Hornet One of the first experiments with the F-16 was the Control Configuration Vehicle CCV The aircraft used for this program was the first YF-16 72-1567 it was rebuilt in December 1975 This aircraft has independent of uncoupled flight control surfaces which
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