A True Life Story - Flying an Aircraft without Fuel

This is a true life story which happened some time in Sep 1988. I was flying as a trainee pilot, all alone in a jet engine aircraft called Kiran or Hindustan Jet Trainer, HJT-16, from Bangalore back to the Airforce Flying Academy. The flight was more than one hour and so we had two additional wing tanks to cater for the additional fuel required for this long ferry sortie all the way from Bangalore.

The additional tanks made my aircraft heavier than usual. With takeoff from Bangalore runway, my troubles had started. The aircraft being heavy, refused to take off where I expected her to leave ground, estimated with my precious total of just fifty hours of flying experience in any aircraft in my three month's of training flying.

There was not much time left for me to decide to take off or abort take off. I decided to take off because we had a long runway and there was enough lengh of runway still left to land back if the aircraft refused to take off. In addition there was a rope barrier which I could go and engage and stop the aircraft without injuring myself and without damaging the aircraft.  

So I decided and continued to do the takeoff and a little later than usual my aircraft reluctantly took off from the runway after running on the wheels for a few hundred feet more. I felt the controls were a bit sluggish compared to normal aircraft behaviour during my previous takeoffs. I was completely forgetting the additional two jettisonable fuel tanks, fitted under the wings, which were making my aircraft heavier than before and very sluggish flight characteristics in air.

A True Life Story


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