by Frederick A. Johnsen
Appleton is reflected in the glossy black finish of his
supersonic Hawker Hunter jet as he buttons the aircraft up after
arriving at AirVenture 2008 on Saturday, July 25. Photo by
Frederick A. Johnsen
glossy black, supersonic, computerized, and in the Warbird area at
AirVenture this year. Steve Appleton’s two-place Hawker Hunter began
life in 1955 as a single-seat Mark IV derivative of this British jet of
undisputed aesthetics. Round two for this Hunter came with a factory
rebuild by Hawker into a side-by-side trainer for the Singapore Air
Force, circa 1971. Now, roaring out of Boise, Idaho, this Hunter uses
two PC computers onboard to operate engine controls, hydraulics, fuel,
and the electrical system.
an innovation Appleton and his associates installed in the name of
modernity. There’s a manual reversion if the computers, running the
reliable Windows XP, go down. The computerization gives Appleton
real-time health monitoring of his high-performance aircraft’s
systems. Any perturbations during flight – whether cross-country or
during a low-level air show routine – can be analyzed using the data
tracked by the computers.
said his Hunter is easily capable of supersonic flight – something he
cannot let his black steed exercise in cross-country travel. But there
have been times when he knows his aircraft is on radar that he has
opened it up to about .95 Mach – 95 percent the speed of sound –
just to dazzle the controllers. He can cruise at around 28,000 feet–
higher if cleared–at well over 300 kts. indicated airspeed. His
Hunter’s Avon 208 jet engine is rated at 11,500 pounds of thrust.
Steve said he may get to fly the jet black jet later this week in a
Warbird show at AirVenture.
impressing air traffic controllers or attending the world’s largest
air show gathering, Appleton uses the Hunter for personal enjoyment as
well as air show performances. He has owned four Hunters over the years.
Steve said what he likes best about his jet is: "It’s a great
airplane for air shows because it has a big wing and it is very
maneuverable." The Hunter’s classic lines add to its air show
appeal, he added. And his least favorite aspect? "It burns a lot of
fuel." Steve figures an average fuel burn is 500 gallons an hour; a
fuel stop during the journey to Oshkosh cost $4,500 for 800 gallons.
Steve Appleton is the CEO
of Micron Technology, producers of computer memory.