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U.S.A.F. T-3A Fireflies to be scrapped.

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U.S.A.F. T-3A Fireflies to be scrapped.

Old 12th Oct 2006, 17:43
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U.S.A.F. T-3A Fireflies to be scrapped.

The USAF has decided to scrap its entire fleet of T-3A Fireflies. When in service, a series of accidents killed three Instructors, and three students.
Other than these unfortunate events, does anyone know why the USAF didn't like the Firefly, or did it fall victim to political wrangling, i.e buying-in foreign aircraft?
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Old 12th Oct 2006, 20:10
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It might have something to do with the way they were introduced and the culture surrounding the way the accidents were dealt with. The brass were not prepared to admit that it was training deficiency that led to instructors getting killed in T-3s (after all how could a SEP / ASEL kill experienced jet pilots ). After the run of accidents the press demonized the aircraft to a certain extent.

The basic problem in the USAF was lack of spin practice in the aircraft, however having said that I have heard of several experienced aerobatic pilots getting frights in Fireflys (inverted spins???? I'm not sure).

sr
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 06:32
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Political victim

Having flown the Firefly I can't see why the USAF should scrap the aircraft on flight safety grounds, the DHC-1 had a reputation for not recovering from spins early on in its life and now it is regarded as a "clasic aircraft".

The demise ot the T-3A is all down to politics, the bottom line is that it was not "made in the USA" and the defence industry lobby can use the unfortunate accidents to deride a fine aircraft and of course pick up the orders for a replacement.
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 07:19
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According to this months 'Pilot' mag, they have already done the dirty deed. And not just 'scrapped' the aircraft, they have physically trashed every last part of them. Not only will there be no spare parts available, but there will be no revenue from the sale of the parts.
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 07:56
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"The Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB announced on 12 October 1999 that the T-3A Firefly would be dropped by the Air Force, after having been grounded for more than two years. In 1998 the Air Force intiated the privately run Introductory Flight Training which uses private flight schools to screen pilot candidates. The success of this program persuaded the Air Force to drop the T-3 from service. The T-3 fleet was grounded in July 1997, following an inexplicable engine failure in Colorado. Three instructors and three students were killed in crashes since the plane went into service in 1994. Two crashes were the result of pilot error, while a third occurred because of a stall condition from which the pilot was unable to recover. The predecessor T-41 had no fatal accidents in 30 years of flight, although the T-41 was incapable of performing the aerobatics and spins that were the hallmark of the T-3. The T-3's engine had failed 66 times at takeoff or landing, and the Air Force grounded 57 of the planes on 10 occasions due to problems with the engines, fuel systems and brakes."

From here.

So when did they last fly?
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 07:56
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Firefly Swatted!

Ouch!
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/met...d.2ea3454.html
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 08:07
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:11
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What a shame, I flew that in training it's a great little aircraft. Apart from Crash Gordon's episode I'm not aware of any snags with the Brit version.
Does the USAF version have a different engine to the Brit one?

If you want to see what it is capable of then you should see Alan Wade's Firefly display - it's awesome!
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:27
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Old news surely? The USAF had probably 60-70 of them in storage at Hondo near San Antonio, Tx, at least 7 years ago to my knowledge. From first hand inspection they were beyond recovery even then. They were covered by sun shades but that was about it and no preventative maintenance was being carried out.
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:38
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Downloaddog

I also flew it, am also aware of crash Gordon's incident and never had a problem with it apart from that it killed one of my best friends when it didn't recover from a spin. I wouldn't get in one again. That was in the UK and at the inquest several other incidents which were non-fatal were highlighted.
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:51
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Looks like somebody has more money than sense! Unless of course the US versions were different from the standard models, displayed to great effect at many air shows (spins always safely included!)
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:59
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Don't know about Crash Gordon but I was at Topcliffe in the early 90s when it almost killed two of our beefers. Went into a spin and then couldn't get out because the pedals were jammed. Flying pilot kept kicking them even though he thought he had broken his ankle and passed the min height to bale out...

Story has a happy ending, he did recover and it was found a bolt had been installed in the pedals the wrong way round. RAF/RN put it down to teething troubles and everybody carried on.

The same week a throttle cable snapped on a stude during a PFL. Quite a Happy Hour that week as I recall.

Lords of the Fly, no more Bull!!
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 09:59
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I don't imagine the USAF had much option.

For whatever reason the aircraft suffered a number of incidents and accidents. The cause of those is irrelevant - the USAF (rightly or wrongly) seems to have declared the aircraft unsafe.

To spend $ lots on fixing the alleged problems, then selling the aircraft would have been one option, but to sell them 'as seen' would have given the absurd, money-grabbing American lawyers carte blanche to sue for the slightest problem at the hands of their new owners....

You can blame the destruction of these aircraft on the ridiculous American litigation-culture (surely an oxymoron) - and the risk to the USAF posed by blood-sucking lawyers.
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 10:11
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Didn't this unfortunate scenario coincide with a USAF decision to move all elementary training and screening flying to civilian flying schools on a contract basis, something that they were very comfortable with as they had done this for decades with T-41s (Military Cessna 172s) provided to the flying schools?
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 10:16
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Originally Posted by Ham Phisted View Post
Old news surely? The USAF had probably 60-70 of them in storage at Hondo near San Antonio, Tx, at least 7 years ago to my knowledge. From first hand inspection they were beyond recovery even then. They were covered by sun shades but that was about it and no preventative maintenance was being carried out.
Old news? they were scrapped in mid/late September, not too old.

Some were stored in the hangar and in containers, these were in a much sounder condition than the ones under the sun shades. It's amazing to think that they didn't even try to save the instruments, etc.

Pictures of them at Hondo can be seen here ....

http://www.aero-web.org/specs/slingsby/t-3a.htm
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 12:56
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Originally Posted by BEagle View Post
I don't imagine the USAF had much option.
For whatever reason the aircraft suffered a number of incidents and accidents. The cause of those is irrelevant - the USAF (rightly or wrongly) seems to have declared the aircraft unsafe.
To spend $ lots on fixing the alleged problems, then selling the aircraft would have been one option, but to sell them 'as seen' would have given the absurd, money-grabbing American lawyers carte blanche to sue for the slightest problem at the hands of their new owners....
You can blame the destruction of these aircraft on the ridiculous American litigation-culture (surely an oxymoron) - and the risk to the USAF posed by blood-sucking lawyers.

Thank God the UK's lawyers are so different! No ambulance (aircraft to make it relavent) chasers there. I must give serious consideration to emigrating!

However, you shacked the issue - selling aircraft deemed 'unsafe' is simply asking for lawsuits.

I have never heard the "not made here" issue raised regarding the T-3.
 
Old 13th Oct 2006, 13:28
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Yes, sorry, brickhistory, you're right. We too now have blood-sucking ambulance-chasing legal low-lives as well......
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 15:33
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More over at Flying Instructors & Examiners.

I/C
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Old 13th Oct 2006, 18:36
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I was a QFI at Barkston Heath on the Firefly and had no episodes to speak of. The only thing that worried me was the propensity of the aircraft to enter the incipient spin in almost any stage of flight. (I exaggerate slightly)

I understand that the USAF had some issues with spin training and the Boss at Barkston at the time told them what they were doing wrong - which they liked even less.

Colorado Springs is at some considerable density altitude - IIRC about 6000' on a good day so even a climb to 10000' does not give you much to play with if you are going to set a Min Height to Commence Recovery.

They would spin without parachutes.

They used IP's rather than QFI's
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