Taken on Nov. 5, 2021 at RAF Lakenheath the cool video in this post, features five F-15 Eagle air superiority fighters from the 493d Fighter Squadron performing unrestricted climbs.
According to the author of the video, Ted Coningsby, “5 is the magic number in this video and on this day. It was the 5th of November (if you are a fan of adding numbers then add the numbers in 2021), there were 5 F-15’s ready for an UNRESTRICTED CLIMB (aka PERFORMANCE TAKEOFF). Oh, and it’s about a 5-minute video lol.”
Ted continues: “AFTERBURNERS ON, TAKEOFF, PULL BACK AND GO VERTICAL. This is really an impressive sight from the 493d Fighter Squadron at RAF LAKENHEATH. I managed to get 4 out of the 5 serial numbers so if anyone caught the first one, do let me know.
Unrestricted climbs are somewhat commonly performed by modern fighter aircraft. Pilots will take off and accelerate to a high speed near the ground and then pull the aircraft vertically or nearly vertical to quickly climb to the aircraft’s cruising altitude.
‘The only times I’ve ever done unrestricted climbs were simply to wow an audience. First time was as we were departing an airshow in which we were just static displays, not performers. We still wanted to make a little noise and look cool though. The second time was departing another airshow, a few days after the show had ended (again I was static display, not a performer in the airshow). The only ‘crowd’ was my wife who had never seen me fly, so I wanted to look cool. There’s not really any guidance as to how to perform one, just get really fast on the deck and put the nose up, try not to overshoot your altitude.
‘The problem with most clearances is that the radar facility that services the departing airfield generally only owns the airspace up to a certain level. I think in both instances I was cleared unrestricted to around 10-13K feet. To coordinate higher than that you have to start doing some more in-depth coordination, and aside from that, nobody can see a tail-end viper passing about 10,000 feet anyway so it doesn’t matter. If I fly an unrestricted climb profile, my technique is to suck up the gear, accelerate level over the runway to about 450KCAS and start about a 5G pull to 60 degrees nose high. You’ll find that you’ll have accelerated to faster than 450 by the time the nose gets up there. It takes a slight unload to less than 1G to maintain a 60 degree climb initially. Approaching about 3,000′ prior to level off altitude, I’ll roll the jet over and start an easy 2-3G pull down to the horizon, timing the rate of climb to taper off to zero when I reach my assigned altitude.
‘Also, the inverted roll and pull is strictly for my comfort. I don’t know what the actual climb rate is during one of these, but it would take a pretty aggressive nose-over to arrest it.’
Photo credit: Ted Coningsby