Jim Sandberg, along with Paul Metz, were Northrop Test Pilots assigned to the ATF Programme. He is one of the people to appear in the WCI DVD. Jim was the first pilot to fly PAV-2, considered the 'hot ship' because of its more powerful GE YF120 engines. Jim took PAV-2 up for the first time on 29 October 1990, but there was a glitch. Jim relates the story in the DVD: "After we got airborne and Paul had joined up with me, we raised the landing gear and everything looked good. Paul gave me a call and said, 'Everything's up and closed.' And then we lowered the landing gear. The right landing gear never came down. So we just talked about it a little bit with Mission Control. And it was decided that we would raise the landing gear and try it again. That was one of the few times I ever liked to hear someone say, 'Try it again.' We put the landing gear down, and it stayed down. And then we conducted the remainder of the flight with the gear down."
PAV-2 was tasked with expanding the manoevurability envelope, so Jim got to really throw the plane around in the sky. He relates the difficulty of chase aircraft keeping up with him in the DVD. Because PAV-2 was fitted with GE YF120 engines, it had more thrust than PAV-1, so it had a faster top speed. The general consensus in the public domain is that the YF-23 was more streamlined than the YF-22, so it was more than likely faster than the Lockeed aircraft. The implication is that Jim is one of a very small number of people to truly know what the YF-23 is capable of, and holds the distinction of being the fastest pilot in the world to fly without using afterburner. Only he knows first hand just how fast that is. Jim's emphatic accolade: "I've never flown a better flying airplane, and I don't think I ever will. This airplane was truly a joy to fly."
The expression on Jim's face as he walks away from PAV-2 after a test flight hides very little of what he thinks of the experience.
Last updated November 2010.
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