The F-16’s First Flight

On January 20, 1974, General Dynamics test pilot Phil Oestricher readied the first YF-16 for its first “hop,” a brief flight just a few feet above the runway. But the simulator Oestricher had trained in did not adequately portray control-stick forces, and he hadn’t learned to judge how much aileron he was commanding. After liftoff, the YF-16 could barely be controlled, and Oestricher decided it would be safer to take off, try to regain control, and land. (0:45)

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