50,000 ft/min

A good day at the office

To tell the truth, it’s been so long (see the fabulous Bird On A Wire) since I did a post like this I’ve almost forgotten the drill. At least the idea is simple: There are so many great photos languishing out there; let’s share them.

Today’s offering dates from Exercise Cope North in 2010 – specifically February 15th, 2010. It shows an unnamed USAF F-16 pilot performing an unrestricted vertical climb off runway 06L at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam.

One breath in, and already hitting the Flight Levels.

(USAF Photo 100215-F-5964B-465 by Staff Sgt. Jacob N Bailey)

The image is public domain: Click here to download your full-size copy (2100px x 1397px @ 300 ppi, 1.8MB)

Background details

Cope North is an annual exercise usually involving the US, Japan and Australia to enhance interoperability between the three nations’ forces and maintain readiness in the Western Pacific. It has been run since 1978.

Anderson Air Force Base is named for USAAF Brigadier General James Roy Anderson who died when his C-87A Liberator Express #41-24174 disappeared between Kwajalein and Johnston Island on February 26th, 1945.

And the history of the F-16 itself is probably so well known that it barely needs coverage. Suffice to say that it bears the fingerprints of that tireless air warrior Colonel John Boyd – a.k.a. ‘40 Second Boyd’ (although by most accounts he waxed all his opponents in under 20) – and his Pentagon ‘Fighter Mafia’. Under their protection the ‘Fighting Falcon’, or ‘Viper’ to its friends, grew into a hugely successful air superiority fighter with more than 4,500 units built.

Interestingly, the F-16’s first major victory was over the Northrop YF-17 during Air Force contract fly-offs in late 1974. Of course Northrop took their defeated design, partnered up with McDonnell Douglas, and turned it into the F/A-18 – arguably making that single Air Combat Fighter Competition the best value-for-money in US military history!

Future posts

There are plenty more fascinating connections between the F-16 and F/A-18 families too… Grist for a future post, perhaps.

But for now all credit (and no small measure of thanks) to USAF Staff Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey. This is such a cool shot – especially for one that doesn’t even show an aircraft!

It’s also a handy reminder that, while I do publish a lot of aviation history, ‘airscape’ is fascinated by all phases of flight if you’ll excuse the pun. That includes people, places, events, aircraft, airmanship, aerodynamics, photography, future developments and more.

I know it’s up to me to try and maintain the balance… But if you’ve got something from your corner of aviation that you’d like shared, feel free to pitch in. Use the Contact page.

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3 thoughts on “50,000 ft/min

  1. What an epic picture! 😀 I’ve never really liked those types of pictures, but that one is amazing.
    And I think you’re doing a wonderful job maintaining a good balance of content. I couldn’t be happier!
    Happy Memorial Day!

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