AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - 64

OFTEN AND INCORRECTLY called

a Thunderbird, the T-33 was
never used by the U.S. Air
Force Thunderbirds other than
to carry the airshow narrator
and give press rides.

however, the tips will have to be jettisoned-a landing should not
be attempted with such an imbalance. Salganek recommends not
using aileron trim because this can mask a developing imbalance.
The T-Bird maneuvers beautifully, and you cannot help but feel
what it was like to have been a fighter pilot during the dawn of the
jet age (except for the shooting, of course). Stalls are unremarkable except that rudder is not used to raise a wing during a stall.
Applying right rudder to raise the left wing, for example, causes
that wing to drop farther. (Don't ask. I don't know.) The ailerons,
however, are effective during the stall and are used to control roll,
which is contrary to how general aviation pilots are trained.
Because of limited power available at low speed, accelerating
out of slow flight using power only (and not diving) is agonizingly
slow. You move the throttle fully forward and not much happens.
As airspeed builds and additional ram air enters the engine, power
and acceleration increase. In other words, it is easier to increase
speed when you already have an abundance of it.
Unlike most other jet airplanes, a smidgeon of rudder is needed
when rolling into and out of turns. The T-Bird has a yaw string on
the nose (like many sailplanes) to admonish a pilot for allowing
the airplane to slip or skid. Conventional aerobatics are approved,
but rolls are not recommended with full tip tanks. Inverted flight
is limited to 30 seconds.
Although I had no desire to observe it, high-speed compressibility at high altitude causes airframe buffeting, reduced elevator
effectiveness, and Mach tuck-a nose-down pitching moment that
compounds these problems. The trick is to avoid Mach 0.80 above
30,000 feet.
The T-33 does not have spoilers, but it does have a pair of
hydraulically operated speed brakes, rectangular surfaces that
swing down and forward from the belly. When on the downwind
leg at 185 knots, pop these "boards" using the dive-brake switch on
the throttle, extend the gear and flaps, and turn base. Target speeds
are 125 knots on final and 110 knots over the fence. Touchdown
occurs at about 90 knots.
When retarding the throttle during an approach, bring it only
as far aft as the "soft stop." This reduces engine power to 40-percent rpm. Pulling the throttle fully aft (beyond the soft stop and
64 | AOPA PILOT January 2015

to the hard stop) reduces power to 20 percent (idle). The problem
with this is that when the engine is at idle, it can take 15 seconds to
spool up to maximum-available power in the event of a go-around
(or during touch-and-go landings), and these can be the longest
15 seconds you'll ever endure.
Lacking spoilers, reverse thrust, or an antiskid system, a minimum of 5,500 feet is needed to make a full-stop landing at Santa
Fe on a hot day. Salganek advised me to save the brakes by applying
them gingerly and using the entire runway to slow down.
The Air Force began replacing the T-Bird with the Cessna T-37
Tweet in 1957 and the supersonic Northrup T-38 Talon in 1961.
Salganek is a remarkably effective and patient instructor.
Throughout our flight he kept telling me how wonderfully I was
doing, even though I knew better. Such an instructing style, though,
helps a student to relax, have fun, and more rapidly build confidence.
You would suspect that Salganek is an ex-military pilot. Not so.
He's strictly GA and learned to fly in a Cessna 150. He worked his
way up the food chain and opened his school in 1991 with a Beech
T-34 Mentor. He obtained the T-Bird in 1994 and other exotic jets in
subsequent years. His customers range from private pilots to airline
pilots to astronauts, many of whom come from all over the world
for this specialized training. In addition to offering dual instruction and type ratings in these aircraft, he also offers upset training.
Salganek says that the L-39 is his most popular warbird and
that the classic T-33 is inexplicably his least popular. "The T-Bird
is a wonderful warbird, but it is very basic and demands a lot of
hand-eye coordination. It has little automation and no computerization. You operate it manually in almost every respect," he said.
"It is truly a pilot's airplane."
Flying a Lockheed T-33 provides a marvelous sense of aviation history. For someone with jet experience, a T-Bird type rating
requires about six hours. I didn't ask about the cost because I knew
that I probably couldn't afford it. (We checked; the cost is approximately $17,000.-Ed.)
AOPA
VISIT the author's website (www.barryschiff.com)

WEB

www.jetwarbird.com


http://www.barryschiff.com http://www.jetwarbird.com

AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Contents
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - January 2015 - Cover4
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