A Lexus LFA Nürburgring takes on an Eclipse 500 jet - image: Lexus
Marc Arnold's response:
Thanks for your comments and interest in the LFA vs Eclipse Jet Shoot Out. I was the pilot of the jet and am pleased to respond to your suspicion that a more aggressive pilot could have won.
As you might guess, a longer race circuit would have resulted in a shut out in favor of the jet. Conversely, a shorter course would have favored the car. During the planning stages, we predicted staging the race at Longmont Airport with its relatively short 4,800 foot runway would be a close race. As it turned out, it was extremely close. Since you are a techie, here’s the behind the scenes scoop on how the flying part was handled….
I practiced the maneuver about 50 times over the prior four months (but not at low altitude over the runway since that required a special waiver from the FAA that was only valid on race day). Together with another experienced acrobatic pilot to enhance safety and record data, we tested a wide range of variables to determine how best to shave seconds off the time. To my knowledge, no other business jet has participated in a race quite like this one. On the day of the race, I flew alone. Needless to say, there are many ways to accomplish this maneuver and we methodically varied each one to determine its effects. On race day, I pushed every one of the relevant limits.
First, I approached the start line in a steady 3 degree descent at 110 KEAS (Equivalent Airspeed). Jet engines take some time to spool up. Three seconds before crossing the start line, I slammed the throttles to the stops. The FADEC’s (Full Authority Digital Engine Controls) are in direct control of the engines and feed in as much fuel as possible without exceeding temperature, thrust or rev limits given the atmospheric conditions present. Had I stayed level with full power on, I would have screamed past 150 mph in a few seconds, but instead, I crossed the start-line just a shade below the agreed upon maximum of 150, then immediately turned left and pulled up hard to minimize the radius and gain the altitude. I knew from practice that I would need every foot of altitude for the return dive and race to the finish. Had the starting speed been slower, I wouldn’t have been able to get the altitude needed for the diving high speed, high G turn back to the finish line. Any faster, and the radius of my left 90 / right 270 would have been greater… again, a slower start/finish elapsed time. Which leads to the second limit.