Ever wonder what it must be like to hop in the cockpit of an F-15?
While the U.S. leads the world in development and production of fifth generation fighters like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the F-22 Raptor, the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse fourth generation fighter, the F-15, still holds the crown for fastest jet in Uncle Sam’s arsenal. That, combined with a whopping 23,000 pound payload capacity makes America’s suite of specialized F-15s among the most capable fighters in the world.
While the F-15E Strike Eagle serves as a high speed interdiction fighter with exceptional ground engagement capabilities, the F-15C remains America’s primary air intercept fighter. When we say “air intercept,” what we really mean is that the F-15C is a plane purpose built to take down other fighters. In fact, it’s so good at what it does that the F-15 boasts an incredible 104 to 0 kill record against other aircraft. In one case, an F-15E even managed to take down an enemy helicopter using a laser guided bomb.
If you’ve ever wondered how tough it really is to fly one of these twin engine kings of the 4th-gen fighters, this video offers one hell of a crash course. The video, which was made for Ars Technica and that I first spotted on The Aviationist, gives you an extremely rare tour of the cockpit of an F-15C, delivered by retired United States Air Force Col. Andrea Themely, who has 1,100 flight hours logged in the F-15, along with 2,300 hours in other aircraft throughout her 23-year career.
Driving the F-15 seems to be a bit more complicated than your old grocery-getter, with 250 buttons to keep track of as you scream over the earth at 1,875 miles per hour looking for enemy aircraft to destroy.
This detailed tour offers details about the F-15 cockpit that even some of the most avid aviation fans may not have been aware. In fact, I covered this jet in some detail for Popular Mechanics, and still found myself taking a few notes as Colonel Themely ran through the weapons systems. I had heard the phrase “pickle switch” before, but never knew its origin.