The legendary Belgian Air Force pilot Bill Ongena used to do something with his F-104G that even Lockheed and its test pilots deemed impossible:

A touch-roll-touch with an airplane notorious for its lack of aerodynamic friendliness at low speeds.

That was one talented pilot!

In the annals of aviation history, there are moments that defy the perceived limits of what an aircraft can achieve. The F-104 Starfighter, renowned for its blistering speed and less-than-friendly low-speed handling characteristics, witnessed one such extraordinary feat—the legendary Belgian Air Force pilot Bill Ongena’s touch-roll-touch maneuver.

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter earned its place in aviation lore as a supersonic legend. Designed for high-speed interception and armed with a powerful J79 engine, it was one of the fastest aircraft of its era. However, it also had a reputation for being challenging to handle at low speeds due to its thin wings and high wing loading.

Bill Ongena, a Belgian Air Force pilot, was renowned for his exceptional flying skills and daring maneuvers. In the world of aviation, he was a living legend, known for pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible.

The touch-roll-touch maneuver performed by Bill Ongena in his F-104G was nothing short of audacious. At its core, the maneuver involves making contact with the runway, rolling the aircraft, and then taking off again—all within the constraints of the F-104’s challenging flight envelope.

The F-104’s low-speed handling was notorious for its lack of aerodynamic friendliness. The aircraft was designed for high-speed flight and lacked the traditional lifting characteristics of more conventional aircraft. As such, it was deemed nearly impossible to perform a touch-and-go landing in an F-104.

However, Bill Ongena’s mastery of the aircraft defied the odds. He executed the touch-roll-touch maneuver with a combination of precise control inputs, impeccable timing, and sheer piloting skill. It was an awe-inspiring spectacle that left aviation enthusiasts and professionals alike in disbelief.

Bill Ongena’s remarkable feat serves as a testament to the skill, courage, and innovation of aviators who push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of aviation. His daring maneuver in the F-104 is a source of inspiration for future generations of pilots, reminding them that with skill and determination, even the most formidable challenges can be overcome.


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