Sabre dance (aviation)
The Sabre dance is the name given to pitch-up, a particularly dangerous behaviour of swept wings, which became apparent in the USAF during the development of the F-100 Super Sabre. When a swept wing starts to stall the outermost portions tend to stall first. Since these portions are behind the center of lift, the overall lift force moves forward, pitching the nose of the aircraft upwards. This leads to a higher angle of attack and causes more of the wing to stall, making the problem worse until the pilot loses control. This problem could easily have fatal results at low altitude, where there was insufficient time for the pilot to regain control or eject before hitting the ground: a large number of aircraft were lost to this phenomenon during landing, leaving the plane tumbling onto the runway, often in flames.
One of the most notorious incidents was the loss of F-100C-20-NA Super Sabre 54-1907 during an attempted emergency landing at Edwards AFB, California on January 10, 1956. By chance, this particular incident was recorded in detail on 16 mm film by cameras set up to cover an unrelated test. The pilot fought desperately to retain control as he rode the edge of the flight envelope, but his F-100 fell off on one wing, slammed sideways into the runway and exploded, killing him.
- Deadly Sabre Dance Retrieved 2011-11-24
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