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Research Aircraft: the Boeing YF-16, Images by Wernher Krutein and PHOTOVAULT®

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The prototype YF-16 ( #72-1567) was rolled out at Fort Worth on December 13, 1973 and was air freighted by a C-5A to Edwards AFB on January 8, 1974. Its first flight was an unintended short hop around the pattern on January 21, 1974 at the hands of test pilot Phil Oestricher.

The scheduled first flight was delayed until a new right stabilator could be fitted. It took eventually place on February 2, 1974. This test flight reached 400 mph and 30,000 feet.

YF-16 no 2 (#72-1568) was flown for the first time on March 9th, 1974 with test pilot Neil Anderson at the controls.

On two occasions during these early test flights, the F100 engine went uncommanded idle while in flight, forcing a dead-stick landing. Temporary flying restrictions were imposed on the YF-16 until the problem could be corrected. The fault was traced to contamination of the fuel-control valve which caused the valve to jam in the idle position, but while the curbs were in effect, the YF-16 had to remain within dead-stick landing distance of the airfield.

The flyoff between the YF-16 and the Northrop YF-17 began as soon as flight testing started. The two YF-16s reached speeds of over Mach 2.0, maneuvers achieving 9g, and altitudes above 60,000 feet. Although the YF-16 was designed for 6.5g at full internal fuel, 9g capability at reduced fuel loads and non-critical mach/altitude combinations allowed the YF to easily demonstrate the advantages of the higher g in air combat and to verify the effects of the 30 degree inclined seat. There was an attempt to get as many pilots as possible to fly both the YF-16 and YF-17. The Lightweight Fighter prototypes never flew against each other, but they did fly against all current USAF fighters as well as against MiG-17s and MiG-21s that had been "acquired" by the USAF.


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