|New 'Me 262' Performs First Flight|
years after the last 262 flew, an all-new Messerschmitt 262 made a
35-minute first flight December 20 in Everett, Washington. The jet
plane, flown by test pilot Wolfgang Czaia, is the first of five Me 262s
that a small group of engineers - called the Me 262 Project - is
planning to build, fly and deliver to paying customers. The original Me
262s, flown by the Luftwaffe during the tail end of World War II, were
the world's first operational jet-powered aircraft. "A pleasure to fly,"
Czaia wrote in his flight-test report. "Overall, a great first flight."
There are eight known survivors from more than 1,400 built, 300 of which saw action. Capable of 540 mph in level flight, the Me 262 was nearly untouchable when pitted against Allied bombers and escort fighters. Shear numbers - e.g., 37 Me 262s vs 1,221 U.S bombers and 632 escort fighters on March 18, 1945 - allowed the Allies to prevail over what was then the most advanced aircraft known to man.
The Everett-based Me 262 Project was born in 1993 at Classic Fighter Industries. Its president, aeronautical engineer Steve Snyder, wanted aircraft that were representative of serial production Me 262s. Snyder subcontracted with Herb Tischler's Texas Airplane Factory in Fort Worth to restore an original 262 and build five new ones for potential customers.
When a falling-out ensued between Snyder and Tischler, Snyder turned to Bob Hammer, a Seattle-based Boeing executive. Hammer, whose Seafire amphib was named Grand Champion Seaplane (N15BH) at AirVenture '98, agreed - on the condition that the operation would be moved to the Pacific Northwest.So in early 1999, ten 18-wheelers arrived at Paine Field in Everett, where parts from the original and five new 262s were unloaded. When Snyder was killed in an F-86 crash later that year, the owners of the first two factory-new aircraft agreed to finance the project.
With a price tag of approximately $2 million apiece minus engines, three remain unsold. "White 1," the article that flew December 20, belongs to a Phoenix attorney. "Red 13," destined for the Messerschmitt Foundation in Munich, is scheduled to fly sometime within the next year, Hammer said.
Two of the five new aircraft are two-seaters, one is a single-seater, and two can convert from one to two seats. ("White 1" is a two-seater; "Red 13" is convertible.) Improvements over the original Me 262s include General Electric J-85 engines replacing Jumo 004s, reinforced landing gear, additional braking capacity and a modified throttle assembly.
Czaia, who flew F-84s and F-104s for the German Air Force before coming to the United States in the early 1970s to embark on an airline career, has been with the Me 262 Project for eight years. Well acquainted with Luftwaffe pilots who flew original 262s, he relishes his role as the aircraft's latter-day test pilot. "This airplane is a dream to fly," Czaia said. "It's very stable, very quiet."
A failed hydraulic line off the No. 1 pump affected "White 1's" braking ability after landing, but the first flight itself, conducted with the gear down, went smoothly.
With an L-39 chase plane at the ready, "White 1" made its 14-second takeoff roll at 94 percent power. The nose wheel lifted off the pavement at 90 knots IAS, and at 100 knots the aircraft took off from Paine Field's Runway 34L at precisely 2 p.m. local time.
Czaia retracted the flaps at 150 knots and increased speed to 170. He put the aircraft into a 1,500-fpm climb at 150 knots and leveled out at 10,500 feet. Czaia reported "excellent control feel and response in all three axes, as well as excellent stabilizer trim response." The aircraft, he ascertained, could be trimmed hands-off without wandering into a bank or pitch. The aircraft stalled at 100 knots; touchdown on Runway 16R was at 108 knots.
Weather permitting, a gear-retraction flight was scheduled for the first week of January.
January 12, 2003
Giant step forward in flight-tests:
April 10, 2005
MORE (Fixed again)
EAA Aviation Center