Chapter 58. Speed Is Life; More Is Better

Matt “Boom” Daniel

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“SPEED IS LIFE; MORE IS BETTER” is a common rallying cry in the jet-fighter community. Imagine the participants, and it is easy to hear, “Gotta go fast!” Right? “Everything must be done with immense speed!” Right? “Get there now, get away now!” Right?

There is no denying that in the daily flying life of fighter pilots, speed is a fundamental need. (Mav and Goose said so in the movie Top Gun, so it must be true.)

But is it always true that speed is life and more is better?

In a classic one-on-one dogfight[19] engagement, it is a viable tactic to go very slowly to minimize your turn radius. You turn in a circle with a smaller circumference, forcing your opponent to fly in a larger circle and end up in front of your aircraft so you have a better firing position. You “live inside his circle.” This is true control, as both aircraft are flying at the speed of a major league fastball while executing this choreography.

Scientific studies prove the advantage of optimal, rather than excessive, speed for specific moves, tactics, and delivery profiles. Optimal speed, not maximum speed, is the goal. So, once specific needs or tactics are chosen, speed is only a key metric. But more important is how you choose to use that energy (speed).

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