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Vipers

John Robb points to an article in the Air Force Association magazine on the history of the F-16, a pretty amazing airplane.

The F-16 has an official name—Fighting Falcon—that nobody uses. To those who fly, arm, or maintain it, it is “the Viper.” It has been the most popular fighter of its time, with some 4,100 F-16s delivered to more than 20 countries. It has flown more than 200,000 combat sorties. Its air combat record: 71-to-zero.

But they’re just not LOUD enough — something that I’m sure serves them well in combat but not in aeronautic demonstration routines. I remember seeing the Air Force Thunderbirds flying F-16’s at Travis Air Force Base a couple of years ago. Great show and all — but without that earth-shaking noise that the Blue Angels F-18’s (with two engines per aircraft) put out! My fondest memory of a very loud aerial demonstration team performance was one I saw by the Thunderbirds back in the early 1970’s over Lake Tahoe — flying twin-engined F-4 Phantoms.

Of course, the real beauty of the F-16 is how well it performs its mission — on just that single engine. Amazingly, the aircraft has been in service since 1978 — twenty-five years!

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