Former US Fighter Pilot Tells What It Was Like To Fly The A-4 Skyhawk

Former US Fighter Pilot Tells What It Was Like To Fly The A-4 Skyhawk
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The Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was made in the early 1950s and it was developed for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. A-4 is a single-seat subsonic carrier-capable light attack aircraft that has a top speed of 1,083 km/h. This aircraft is delta-winged and is powered by a single turbojet engine.

The A-4 was built to be cost-effective and small in size so that more aircraft can be fit in carriers. Skyhawks were highly maneuverable and also powerful aircraft for the US Navy, US Marines, and friendly nations. Given these unique capabilities, how great was it to fly the A-4? Former US Naval aviator John Chesire explains in Quora, how fun was to fly the A-4.

“Oh my, what a wonderfully fun aircraft to fly! It was always a thrill to fly regardless of which of the many different and various A-4 models one was flying in,”

According to Chesire, the A-4 Skyhawk was the most fun aircraft he ever flew in his career. A-4 has a simple design, but it makes this aircraft quick and agile. It could roll at 720 degrees/second. He says a lot of other pilots also love this aircraft because it was Nimble and maneuverable. The A-4 has a lot of nicknames such as Heinemann’s Hot Rod, Scooter, Bantam Bomber, Tinker Toy, and others. Chesire loved the nickname “Scooter” since it reminded him of his 2 children having fun pedaling their little three-wheel scooter in the street. He says that flying A-4 was like giving a kid a great toy to play with.

Chesire said,

“The first A-4 I flew was an old A-4C. It had an older engine that was sluggish compared to the fighters I had been flying. It also did not have ground spoilers, which made for some tricky and scary crosswind landings. However, it was single-seat, something that every pilot likes by not having someone in the back looking over your shoulder. I flew it on some RDT&E* projects, but I was allowed to also fly it anytime I wanted to…and I often did. For a while, it was my little personal sports car of the air. Of course, later models with their improved engines were like little rocket ships or like Star Wars’ TIE fighters. I never got to fly those, but that’s OK. I did not miss much.”


“Some years later I would fly another A-4, the TA-4J two-seat trainer as a flight instructor. I had been flying F-14 Tomcats at the time, but the TA-4J being so much fun to fly was not a letdown. Moreover it was a challenging but honest aircraft for student naval aviators to hone their skills.”



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