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This Retro F-14 Tomcat Spin-Test Video Will Make Your Stomach Churn
Between 1979 and 1985, a very special Navy F-14 Tomcat was one of NASA’s favorite guinea pigs. Designated NASA 991, the Northrop Grumman fighter jet conducted 221 flights out of the space agency’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in the service of flight research — and to study the fighter’s alarming penchant for falling into a deadly spin, a tragedy immortalized by the death of Nick "Goose" Bradshaw in Top Gun.
To do this, NASA and the Navy sent its twin-engine test subject up to tumble uncontrollably through the skies above California, on purpose. And this 1980 archival footage, posted to the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s YouTube page on July 25 (and surfaced by Popular Mechanics’ Kyle Mizokami on Aug. 15), captures the whole experiment in action:
At 41 seconds, the clip is a gut-wrenching look at the F-14’s spin problem: With its variable-sweep “swing wings” deployed in a takeoff/landing configuration, the aircraft suddenly starts to rotate along its vertical axis, tumbling into an aggressive roll. We can only pray for the poor test aviators getting bounced around in the Tomcat’s narrow cockpit.
These flights weren’t just to torture the poor pilots who strapped themselves into NASA 991. Using footage like this, NASA and the Navy eventually diagnosed and corrected the problem. The actual technical paper, also flagged by Popular Mechanics, is fascinating if you’re into that sort of thing, but Mizokami does a fine job putting it in into layman’s terms for those without advanced engineering knowledge:
NASA traced the problem back to the aileron rudder interconnect and laminar air flow. Air was not flowing smoothly over the F-14's wings while it was configured for landing, creating an opportunity for the plane to suddenly yaw left or right. Using feedback from more than 200 test flights, engineers made improvements to the plane's high angle of attack flying qualities, improving the plane's ability to resist sudden spin, and reducing "wing rock," the tilting of the aircraft from one side to the other. A fix for the yaw problem was devised that involved cleaning up the surfaces of the Tomcat's wing, making air flow more smoothly over them at subsonic speeds.
So who’d win in an aerobatic showdown: NASA 991 or the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E multi-role fighter that scared the pants off bystanders at the Moscow Air Show in July? Our money’s on the former, if only out of our loyalty to poor Goose.
The Pentagon's top spokesman tried to downplay recent revelations by the Washington Post that U.S. government officials have consistently misled the American public about the war in Afghanistan for nearly two decades.
Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock first brought to light that several top officials acknowledged to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction that the war was going badly despite their optimistic public statements. The report, based on extensive interviews and internal government data, also found that U.S. officials manipulated statistics to create the public perception that the U.S. military was making progress in Afghanistan.
An Army colonel's alleged abuse saddled his wife with ongoing medical needs. Escaping him could bring that care to a screeching halt.
Katherine Burton was sitting on her couch when she heard a scream.
Though she had not yet met her upstairs neighbors, Army. Col. Jerel Grimes and his wife Ellizabeth, Burton went to investigate almost immediately. "I knew it was a cry for help," she recalled of the August 1 incident.
Above her downstairs apartment in Huntsville, Alabama, Jerel and Ellizabeth had been arguing. They had been doing a lot of that lately. According to Ellizabeth, Jerel, a soldier with 26 years of service and two Afghanistan deployments under his belt, had become increasingly controlling in the months since the couple had married in April, forcing her to share computer passwords, receipts for purchases, and asking where she was at all times.
"I was starting to realize how controlling he was, and how manipulative he was," Ellizabeth said. "And he'd never been this way towards me in the 15 years that I've known him."
Taliban fighters attempted to fight their way into Bagram Airfield on Wednesday by invading a medical facility just outside of the base's perimeter, a spokesman for Operation Resolute Support said Wednesday.
J.P. Lawrence of Stars and Stripes and Jim LaPorta of Newsweek first reported that the battle lasted for several hours after using car bombs to attack the hospital, which is near the base's northern corner. Helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft were reportedly used to drop ordnance on the hospital.
Actor Mark Wahlberg will be visiting troops overseas to plug Wahlburgers, a fast-casual restaurant chain owned by the actor and his two brothers, Donnie Wahlberg, and chef Paul Wahlberg.