25
Nov

Starfighter stalls and pitchup

Story by Ross (Roscoe) Diehl, November 2020.

Ross Diehl joined the tennessee ANG to fly the F-104 in 1960-61. Then 4 months later he became Lockheed production test pilot on the F-104.  He worked with the Germans, trained 6 Japanese pilots, trained Mitsubishi test pilots, ferried Turkish "G"s and helped the Joe Nevers starting the Norwegian F-104 program.
When I was in the Tennessee Guard, transitioning into the F-104, I noticed that the aircraft rolled noticeably with rapid throttle change due apparently to low inertia in the roll axis. Being a California hot rod kid, this seemed similar to my flathead Ford's reaction. After my checkout, I was curious about pitchup so at round 300 kts., 25,000 ft. I did a pitchup. the aircraft did the expected gyrations and stabilized. I cycled the controls got no reaction, none, nada. I had to break the stabilization, so I jazzed the throttle and out she came, no worse for the wear. Later, on a cross country, I pondered the stability of the 104 versus the F-86. Letting go off the stick in the Sabre would quickly roll off into the famous graveyard spiral. Trimming very carefully, I let go of the stick and watched until the aircraft slowly rolled left, all I could was lean to the right. It stopped and slowly rolled to the right. Back and forth for11 minutes until I had to let down for ABQ. The altitude increased 300 ft. 
     Returning to Tennessee, I had one of my memorable experiences. Taking off from ABQ. After getting airborne I checked into departure, reported off at 22 and was  told to report level at 330. To my amazement I had to pleasure of reporting 330 level at 23.
     Later at Lockheed, I was be the target for my boss, Hawkeye 1, I was in one of 4 F-86h's we use for radar checks. Since he was delayed I had to kill time over Tehachapi, I thought about the time it takes to do acro like loops, Immelmann's and lazy 8's. So I proceed to do the biggest lazy 8 of all time, holding off the wing drop part way too long until I realized I was vertical and the airspeed was registering ZERO and going backwards.  The  A/C  then flipped on its back and went into an inverted spin, STABILIZED, controls ineffective. Suddenly. over the uhf was my boss's most distinctive voice. WHAT are you doing???? I responded, standby, I'm busy!  Desperate to hurry, I tried my "jazz the throttle" trick and it worked.
When the F-104's first showed up at Knoxville, the young CO, Capt Bob Ruthstein (Bob Arr) driving a tug with towbar, met the first 104 at the edge of the ramp and motioned "follow Me" and proceeded to lead it up the hill and turned left to the officer's club parking lot where they had a hell of a welcoming celebration...... see photo beneath.
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The next picture shows the flight line where all the 104's are lined up in all their bright aluminum glory.
Roscoe.

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