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    Home未分类Reviving the F-86 Sabre: A Legendary Piece of Air Combat History Soars...

    Reviving the F-86 Sabre: A Legendary Piece of Air Combat History Soars Once More

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    The North American F-86 Sabre, a name that conjures images of aerial duels over the Korean skies, stands as a testament to aviation excellence. More than just a relic of the past, the Sabre is a symbol of an era when the skill of the pilot was paramount, and the craft they piloted—a blend of engineering prowess and daring design.

    With fewer than two dozen airworthy F-86s in the United States, the challenge of becoming a qualified Sabre pilot in the modern era is a complex endeavor. The transition from flying modern trainers or even vintage aircraft like the T-33 to mastering the Sabre requires a step-by-step approach. As one experienced pilot put it, “it’s a natural stepping stone to the F-86.”

    The Sabre’s dominance in the skies is not merely due to its design but also its handling—something that has earned it the reputation of being the best-handling fighter of its time. As another testament to its storied past, “Sabre pilots shot down 792 MiGs in Korea, and only 76 Sabres were lost,” a reflection of its success in dogfight scenarios against its contemporaries, especially the Soviet-built MiG-15.

    The journey to becoming a Sabre pilot today is not for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced. “You’d certainly need experience flying a high-performance jet,” advises Steve Kirik, a former F-15 pilot and one of the FAA examiners for Sabre certification. The Soviet-built MiG-15 is often the starting block for civilians, given its similarity in systems philosophy to the F-86, making it a suitable precursor for the Sabre.

    Flying an F-86 is a balance of respecting its responsive nature at high speeds while savoring its stable behavior. As Rich Sugden, a former Navy flight surgeon and owner of an airworthy FJ-4B Fury and Canadian-built Sabre, notes, “Little tiny changes in pitch and roll produce rapid changes in altitude and bank angle. The F-86 is pretty stable, but at high speed it’s very sensitive.”

    Acquiring an F-86 is a feat in itself. Almost all of the Sabres removed from U.S. service were destroyed to prevent them from flying again, in line with Department of Defense policy. However, a few, like the only flying F-86A, which was salvaged before the strict enforcement of this policy, have survived to fly another day.

    The Sabre’s evolution through its various models—from the original XP-86 to the F-86F and the all-weather interceptor F-86D, affectionately known as the “Sabre Dog”—highlights the versatility and adaptability of this aircraft. Each variant introduced improvements from enhanced armament to more powerful engines and control system modifications.

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