Retired F-16 pilot - Which aerobatic aircraft?

Let us know what your connection is with the aircraft, tell us where you're from and what you like!
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fightingintheskies67

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Unread post10 Feb 2013, 22:44

Hello everybody! I'm new to these forums. I'm a retired F-16 pilot. I joined this forum to talk with fellow pilots and to ask and answer questions about this aircraft. I have a question (my first question!). I retired from flying 2 years ago and I still want the thrill of flying these jets. I want to buy some sort of aircraft that can easily do similar maneuvers as the F-16. What aerobatic aircraft do you recommend? I have about $150,000 to spend on an aircraft. Any suggestions? I want the adrenaline of flying these amazing machines but since I'm retired, I can't fly the F-16 anymore. Thanks everybody for the feedback!
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Asif

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Unread post11 Feb 2013, 14:38

Welcome to the forum. Retired F-16 jockies always appreciated!! Nice to have you onboard. Which units have you flown with?
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neurotech

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 00:29

I could make a joke about getting a job with the 3-4 other groups who have civilian F-16 pilots.

What about a fractional share in a L-39 or maybe go for the L-29 which is older and cheaper. The F-5 and A-37 are more expensive, but sometimes available to civilians. I think there is at least one non-profit who does check rides and training for warbird pilots, and that would be a good way to get jet time. I'll see if I can find the details.
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mach2

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 02:36

Fighting-

Congrats on the retirement! I was a TAMI-21 dude about 5 years ago (I'm sure you remember)...thank god, I'm back in the Viper now, but at the time thought I was never going to fly a fighter again. So I did some research and shopping around. I went in with a partner (another TAMI-21 guy) and bought an RV-4. For the money, it was as close to a fighter as I was going to get...and that was on a Captain's salary. I figure it costs about 1k a month for every 70k of aircraft, and that is super conservative.

I loved the RV-4. It did all the basic aerobatic stuff. I didn't try spins or hammerheads, since flying the Viper didn't really train to that. However, I had a few friends that also had RVs and we regularly flew formation, which of course always turned into high aspect BFM sets. It was an absolute blast. I sold the plane once I got my assignment back to the Viper (wouldn't have much time to fly on a personal level). But you better bet that once I retire in a few years, I'll be buying another aerobatic plane. If money allows, it will either be a 2-place Pitts or an Extra.

There are a lot of very affordable toys out there that a Viper pilot would be happy with. PM me if you want to talk specifics. Good luck to you!!
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mach2

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 02:39

By the way...you'll find that you have A LOT more rope to hang yourself with in these planes!!
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checksixx

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 03:53

How about a turbine powered SU-26...I'd totally take the loan out on this thing....look at the thrust to weight ratio!

http://www.controller.com/listingsdetai ... 236891.htm
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SnakeHandler

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 18:28

The SU is great till it goes into beta during a loop and you break your spine. Ops tested.
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fightingintheskies67

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Unread post12 Feb 2013, 20:56

Why doesn't the US just sell extra F16s to the civilians? Haha. I wish.
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SnakeHandler

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Unread post13 Feb 2013, 00:19

You wouldn't want to have to deal with the Hydrazine anyway.
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neurotech

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Unread post13 Feb 2013, 21:03

fightingintheskies67 wrote:Why doesn't the US just sell extra F16s to the civilians? Haha. I wish.

I'm not 100% certain how its done legally, but I suspect that the "activity" is authorized either directly or indirectly by the NDAA. Apparently, the jets are basically "on loan" from the DoD, and technically not "sold". Ross Perot Jr, got in trouble because the jet he obtained, hadn't actually been legally sold, only loaned to a museum, which then sold it. There is a few T-38s that were legally sold off as scrap/parts, by Chuck Thornton, but not cheap. One more is not flight-ready, but surprisingly cheap, and apparently almost complete.
http://www.raptoraviation.com/aircraft% ... s/T38.html

Larry Ellison and his son have also gotten in hot water over the MiG-29 because the paperwork hadn't been fully approved as de-milled (and not otherwise used in a DoD approved activity/contract). An F-16A/B would be even harder to de-mill with limited to no manufacturer support or FMS agreement.

Realistically, the F-5/T-38 is the top performance jet aircraft for the non-super rich, at under $5k/hr to fly. MiG-29 is over $10k/hr with current fuel prices etc.
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SnakeHandler

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Unread post13 Feb 2013, 21:11

I'm still trying to find the plans to convert an F5G from the twin J85s to the single F404.
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neurotech

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Unread post13 Feb 2013, 22:21

SnakeHandler wrote:I'm still trying to find the plans to convert an F5G from the twin J85s to the single F404.

You mean F-5E to F-5G(F-20)?

There is a company who does non-OEM upgrades of F-5s and is run by one of the senior engineers who worked on the F-5G/F-20 program, and they might possibly be a little more flexible on sharing than NG would.
http://www.tigercenturyaircraft.com/
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SnakeHandler

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Unread post13 Feb 2013, 22:31

That's exactly what I was looking for, thanks! Now I just have to save up some cash.
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neurotech

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Unread post14 Feb 2013, 00:11

SnakeHandler wrote:That's exactly what I was looking for, thanks! Now I just have to save up some cash.

Neither F404 or J85 engines are restricted from civilian usage, assuming they are legally obtained. Apparently, even the F414 is available, if you have the cash and can afford over over $4m to buy them. You would have to be able to justify with a legitimate project, eg. Supersonic Business Jet or White Knight launcher aircraft.
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lowcountry_acro

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Unread post28 Feb 2014, 21:47

fightingintheskies67 wrote:Hello everybody! I'm new to these forums. I'm a retired F-16 pilot. I joined this forum to talk with fellow pilots and to ask and answer questions about this aircraft. I have a question (my first question!). I retired from flying 2 years ago and I still want the thrill of flying these jets. I want to buy some sort of aircraft that can easily do similar maneuvers as the F-16. What aerobatic aircraft do you recommend? I have about $150,000 to spend on an aircraft. Any suggestions? I want the adrenaline of flying these amazing machines but since I'm retired, I can't fly the F-16 anymore. Thanks everybody for the feedback!


Hello, It's nice to have a bona fide ex Viper driver here to talk to.

In regards to aerobatic aircraft, I guess it depends on both what kind of flying/aerobatics you want to do with the plane AND how much money you want to spend first maintaining and flying the plane THEN how much you want to spend on the initial purchase. Experience operating high performance aircraft will not be a problem for you given your last career.

First, what kind of flying do you want to do? Are you just interested in raging around on a weekend and throw in a couple of rolls and loops for fun or to take a friend up for a wild ride? Are you more serious about doing professional or competition level aerobatics? Are you looking for a jet solely or are you open to buying a piston powered aircraft as well?

Secondly, I have to ask, have you previously owned an airplane before? If you have not, I strongly suggest that you really investigate the operating costs associated with the aircraft you want or possible purchase a more modest aircraft such as a Piper Cherokee or similar so you can gain some experience of how much it realistically costs to operate an airplane. Remember that the initial purchase price only buys you an expensive paperweight sitting in a hangar; the costs of operating, maintaining and insuring this aircraft could be much much higher. This is especially true of ex-military fighters. You can open a Trade-A-Plane and find a Folland Gnat or a MiG-21 for $100,000.00 and figure it's a bargain. But it may be a cry for help from the seller saying 'please get this goddamned money vampire off my hands!'. Chances are they are not airworthy without a lot of work and a lot more money. Remember as well that people will casually quote the plane costs $600 an hour to operate. Doing the math 10 hours of flight time will cost $6000 - and that's if nothing breaks down (it will)! Even earning a six figure salary, you may still find this aircraft unaffordable. You can quickly find yourself spending enough cash for a new house or a top notch college education for your kids for a handful of fun weekends.

Given this, it's no wonder so many people just go out and buy a Vans RV-6 or RV-7. They're fun, nimble aircraft that do gentleman's aerobatics quite well and offer the ability to travel with another person either cross country or to a nearby airport for a $100 hamburger.

For piston powered aircraft in the price range you're talking about, I'd recommend the Vans line of aircraft. Another option with a little more capability would be the Siai Marchetti SF260. It's a nimble, no nonsense military trainer with good agility and is a lot of fun to fly. So would the Beech T34 Mentor. If you want a fun, old school aircraft then check out the Boeing Stearman. It's a timeless classic.

If you're serious about a jet, the best choice is probably going to be the Aero Vodochky L-39 and L-59. They're widely available and so are spare parts for them. From an operating standpoint, this would probably be the cheapest jet choice. After that come the Russian MiGs. Tread lightly here and make sure you know what you're buying. Have a mechanic familiar with these aircraft do a thorough pre purchase inspection. Know what the availability of spare parts for this airplane is. Make sure you know what the maintenance costs are and budget for maintenace problems throughout the life of the plane.

If you're more serious about doing aerobatics, I'd consider the Pitts S-1T or S-2A. It's the timeless classic aerobatic aircraft and will provide you with a training and competition mount for years to come. Another excellent choice here is the Christen Eagle. Both of these aircraft types are fully aerobatic capable with inverted fuel and oil systems and are capable gyroscopic maneuvers and tailslides. If you want top of the line aerobatic aircraft, look into the Extra 330 series as well as the MX Aircraft's MXS/MX2 and the Zivko Edge 540. These represent the best of the best of the unlimited monoplanes with roll rates exceeding 400°/s and load factors of over +/- 11Gs and can take anything you can throw at them.

Hope this helps and good luck with your decision.
Last edited by lowcountry_acro on 01 Mar 2014, 04:18, edited 2 times in total.
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