F16 vs Dream Machine Comparison

Several people have asked me "what it is like to fly F-16 Fighting Falcon and a biplane and how different are they to fly?" Well, first let me tell you that I am the most fortunate guy in the world to be able to fly both at the same time and have a wonderful family that supports me! I hope this article will answer some questions you may have.

What more can I say than the F-16 is awesome. It's a relatively easy plane to fly, as far as flying is concerned. It is designed with a fly by wire flight control system which takes the pilots inputs and decides how to best move the control surfaces on the airplane depending on what the pilot wants. Therefore, it flies like a dream, if you want to turn left, you put left force on the stick and the flight control computer decides if just aileron or a combination of aileron and leading edge flaps will roll the airplane better. Now keep in mind that these designs are for a reason; there is a lot more to do than just fly the airplane. This plane is a weapon, and it has many weapon systems.

If you think flying instruments and listening on the radio is task saturating, that is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what you deal with while flying a fighter jet, especially the F-16, into combat. Air to Air as well as Air to Ground capable systems, along with being a single seat fighter, make the F-16 potentially task saturating. Most of the time the G forces we experience in the F-16 are positive, in fact, I don't know anyone who deliberately pushes less than zero G in this airplane. It is designed to pull a lot of G's, up to nine positive, and maintain energy while the enemy aircraft loses energy. I don't find myself rolling the airplane very often, and I never spin the aircraft. It is not designed to do this and there is no reason to do it. Takeoff and landings are fairly easy to do, however, sometimes they can be hard to do really well. Also, in crosswind, you land the F-16 in a crab and just let the jet weathervane once you touchdown. In other words, no crosswind controls are used during landing in an F-16, this makes landing in a crosswind fairly simple.

Next, the mighty biplane, long live the biplane. As you can tell, there has always and will always be a special place for the biplane in my heart. That is why out of all the high performing monoplanes on the circuit today, I chose the biplane to be my air show airplane. This plane is pure flying, pure stick and rudder, pure fun. I first started flying the biplane about a year and a half ago, and immediately fell in love with its performance and durability through the most advanced gyroscopic maneuvers. The roll rate and responsiveness of the flight controls is what first impressed me. Being a jet jock for many years, and having started my flying career in general aviation at the age of 16 in single engine, four place, low performance airplanes, my expectations were low. On my first flight in a biplane, I was impressed right from the beginning as soon as the throttle advanced for takeoff. The acceleration was overwhelming for a propeller driven aircraft, and that was just the beginning. Rolls, spins, stalls, tumbles and whatever else my stomach could handle.

Now this was pure stick and rudder flying. Without a computer coming between me and the control surfaces, you truly feel one with the aircraft. Every movement of the stick, good or bad, gave you immediate feedback about how the airplane was performing. The roll rate is similar to the F-16, if not a little quicker, however, the newest forces on my body were the negative G's. My positive G tolerance is great, however, these negative G's are something completely foreign to me. At first, I didn't like them, but in time and with the proper training, they are tolerable. Maneuvers like end over end tumbles, outside loops and snap rolls, and inverted flat spins are a lot of fun. They also require a tolerance to negative G's and I found them worth it! Finally, takeoffs and landings in the biplane are quite sporty. That is probably one of the most difficult areas to get checked out in at first. I think the biplane is more difficult to land than the F-16, especially when you are landing in a crosswind. However, with a lot of practice, you will be greasing your landings on a regular basis.

I hope you liked my comparison of flying the F-16 and flying a biplane. They are both the best at what they are designed to do. One is a weapon of destruction and the other is an aerobatic machine with all the romance that represents pure stick and rudder flying. I hope you enjoy the rest of my website and join with us as we celebrate the passion of flight.

Living the Dream,
Ed Hamill