One of my old COs flew Spads… Including training for their nuclear (one way) mission of loft bombing and running like hell…
Radial Starting (3350 engine on an A-1H)
Be sure you drain both the sumps. (You can fill your Zippo lighter while you do this)
Look out the left side of the oily cockpit canopy and notice a very nervous person holding a huge fire bottle. Nod to this person.
1. Crack throttle about one-quarter of an inch.
2. Battery on
3. Mags on
4. Fuel boost on
5. Hit starter button (The four-bladed 13′ 6′ prop will start a slow turn)
6. 8 blades later, begin to bounce your finger on top of the primer button.
a. This act requires finesse and style. It is much like a ballet performance. The engine must be seduced and caressed into starting.
7. Act one will begin: Belching, banging, rattling, backfiring, sputtering, flame and black smoke from the exhaust shooting out about three feet. (Fire bottle person is very pale and has the nozzle at the ready position)
8. When the engine begins to “catch” on the primer. Move the mixture to full rich.
The flames from the exhaust will stop and white smoke will come out. (Fire bottle guy relaxes a bit) You will hear a wonderful throaty roar that is like music to the ears..
a. Enjoy the macho smell of engine oil, hydraulic fluid, and pilot sweat.
9. Immediately check the oil pressure and hydraulic gages.
10. The entire aircraft is now shaking and shuddering from the torque of the engine and RPM of the prop.
a. The engine is an 18 cylinder R-3350 that develops 2,700 HP.
11. Close cowl flaps to warm up the engine for taxi.
12. Once you glance around at about 300 levers, gauges and gadgets, call the tower to taxi to the duty runway.
Take off in the AD-6
1. Check both magnetos
2. Exercise the prop pitch
3. Cowl flaps open.
4. Check oil temp and pressure.
5. Crank 1.5 degrees right rudder trim to help your right leg with the torque on takeoff.
6. Tell the tower you are ready for the duty runway.
7. Line the bird up and lock the tail wheel for sure.
8. Add power slowly because the plane (with the torque of the monster prop and engine power definitely wants to go left).
9. NEVER add full power suddenly! There is not enough rudder in the entire world to hold it straight.
10. Add more power and shove in right rudder till your leg begins to tremble.
11. Expect banging, belching and an occasional manly fart as you roar down the runway at full power.
(I have found that the engine can make similar noises)
12. Lift the tail and when it “feels right” pull back gently on the stick to get off the ground.
13. Gear up
14. Adjust the throttle for climb setting
15. Ease the prop back to climb RPM
16. Close cowl flaps and keep an eye on the cylinder head temp.
17. Adjust the power as needed as you climb higher or turn on the supercharger.
Flying with the round engine.
1. Once you reach altitude which isn’t very! high (about 8000 feet) you reduce the throttle and prop to cruise settings.
2. The next fun thing is to pull back the mixture control until the engine just about quits. Then ease it forward a bit and this is the best mixture..
3. While cruising the engine sounds like it might blow or quit at any time This keeps you occupied scanning engine gauges for the least hint of trouble.
4. Moving various levers around to coax a more consistent sound from the engine concentrates the mind wonderfully.
5 At night or over water a radial engine makes noises you have never heard before.
6. Looking out of the front of the cockpit the clouds are beautiful because they are slightly blurred from the oil on the cockpit canopy.
7. Seeing lightning in the clouds ahead increases the pucker factor by about 10.
a. You can’t fly high enough to get over them and if you try and get under the clouds—-you will die in turbulence.
b. You tie down everything in the cockpit that isn’t already secured, get a good grip on the stick, turn on the deicers, tighten and lock your shoulder straps and hang on.
c. You then have a ride to exceed any “terror” ride in any amusement park ever built. You discover the plane can actually fly sidewise while inverted.
8. Once through the weather, you call ATC and in a calm deep voice advise them that there is slight turbulence on your route.
9. You then scan your aircraft to see if all the major parts are still attached. This includes any popped rivets.
10. Do the controls still work? Are the gauges and levers still in proper limits?
11. These being done you fumble for the relief tube because you desperately need it. (Be careful with your lower flight suit zipper)
The jet engine and aircraft
Start a jet
1. Fuel boost on.
2. Hit the start button
3. When the JPT starts to move, ease the throttle forward.
4. The fire bottle person is standing at the back of the plane and has no idea what is going on.
5. The engine lights off—and—
6. That’s about it.
Take off in the jet
1. Lower flaps
2. Tell the tower you are ready for takeoff.
3. Roll on to the duty runway while adding 100% power.
4. Tricycle gear—no tail to drag—no torque to contend with.
5. At some exact airspeed, you lift off the runway.
6. Gear up
7. Milk up the flaps and fly.
8. Leave the power at 100%
Flying the jet
1. Climb at 100%
2. Cruise at 100%
3. It is silent in the plane.
4. You can’t see clouds because you are so far above them.
5. You look down and see lightning in some clouds below and pity some poor fool that may have to fly through that mess.
6. The jet plane is air conditioned!! Round engines are definitely not. If you fly in tropical areas, this cannot be stressed enough.
7. There is not much to do in a jet, so you eat your flight lunch at your leisure.
8. Few gauges to look at and no levers to adjust. This leaves you doodling on your kneeboard.
9. Some call girlfriends on their cell phones: “Guess where I am etc”
My old CO said the worst problem he ever had in a Spad was the relief tube being blocked on a six hour mission… 😀