Paco Chierici Flies The F5 Again After 13 Years

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Paco Chierici Flies The F5 Again After 13 Years

Our resident fighter pilot/author/movie producer – Paco Chierici – has just come back from a short trip to sunny San Diego where he spent 2 days studying and flying the F5 (the Canadian CF-5D version) and the SIAI-Marchetti S.211 to get type-rated in both planes for future flying opportunities.

It’s been 13 years since Paco last flew the F5, back when he was a Bandit with VFC-13 in the US Navy, so this was an exciting opportunity for him to refresh his skills and dive back into the plane he loves so much after 10 years of flying it as an Adversary pilot.

So, without any further ado, click play on the video about and enjoy! 🙂

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Hi everybody This is Paco Chierici, the creator and producer of “Speed And Angels”, and the author of “Lions Of The Sky”.

I just want to share with you an experience I had recently which was super meaningful to me. I think it’s pretty exciting and it’s a fun story to share.

I have about a thousand hours flying F-5’s, I flew them in the reserves, for 10 years and just last week I had the opportunity to go back and not only get my type rating flying F-5’s but also to jump in a plane and fly it once again.

Bundled in with that was the chance to get a type rating in the Marchetti S.211 jet as well.

Great opportunity, I was super psyched to do it and obviously I followed through on that.

It took place in San Diego where it was a very small crowd.

It’s a privately owned Canadian F-5D, so a two seater F-5 made up North, and it has some significant differences between it and the American F-5E’s, F-5F’s and F-5N’s that I’ve got so much time flying.

The Marchetti was a total new experience for me. I’ve flew in it a few times before but never really with the intention to becoming typed in and certified in flying the jet. It was always kind of a joy ride.

So I’ve got a few hours in that prior to go down for this training but anyway like I said, the opportunity presented itself and I followed through.

There was about six of us in the class, privately owned both aeroplanes , and we went down to San Diego.

We had about two days worth of intensive classroom refresher for me in the F-5 and differences between the C and the normal American made F-5’s and then the Marchetti, learning all the systems in Marchetti in two like really super long days of just systems lectures and briefs and stuff.

It’s a newer aeroplane even though it’s simpler than the F-5. It’s actually got some more sophisticated components on the interior which makes it a little bit more challenging to learn and also it was all new.

Like I said, two straight days of classroom in the F-5 going through that.

Probably the biggest difference between the Canadian F-5 and the F-5 I’m used to flying is the HUD.

I mean, it’s got this incredible HUD. It’s the same HUD and upfront control that’s in the hornet, which I did not fly.

It was new to me and it’s great to see how you can become a HUD cripple in about five seconds.

I mean it’s an amazing piece of machinery, gives you a tremendous amount of information and confidence when you’re flying the aeroplane.

The other big difference between the Canadian F-5’s and the US F-5’s are the tip tanks.

We didn’t have tip tanks. Not a huge deal there but it does affect manoeuvrability, I felt, and probably top end speed.

The manoeuvring devices on the wings (flaps). So the US F-5’s have thumb activated and then the F-5N’s [have] automatically activated manoeuvring devices that you basically can deploy at any time you’re sub-sonic.

So whenever you’re fighting the aeroplane, you naturally pull back on the thumb switch when you’re pulling back on the stick.

It has a huge advantage in terms of turn performance, degrees per second, even radius. It will make your loop or your turn radius change dramatically if you don’t use them. It’s insane.

The Canadian F-5’s don’t have those and I noticed that difference as soon as I turned the plane and put some G on. You could feel the buffet, you could feel the energy bleeding off.

The turn – the corner air speed is like 425 knots which is… It’s really fast.

That’s like F-16 speed, corner air speed, and obviously dramatically bigger turn circle than an F-16 and you could really feel it.

To do a loop, I think it takes almost 8000 feet so it’s not a really great performing aeroplane like in the BFM arena compared to the F-5E’s and F-5N’s but man, it was great, it was great.

Jumping into the aeroplane, starting it up, go through all the procedures.

My hands… even after 13 years, my hands instinctively went to all the right spots in the cockpit.

Everything felt normal and it was just a joy to jump in and to light the engines up and taxi out, get airborne, got airborne super quick. It’s got almost the same engines as the American F-5’s.

And it was a rush, it was just great!

I got to go up and do a training flight, you know, get a sense of the aeroplane once again.

Do a bunch of precision manoeuvring, aerobatics, instrument approaches, stall series and all that kind of stuff. Then I got my check ride, obviously passed that and I got my type rating.

So that’s cool for whatever may come in the future maybe and hopefully I get an option to fly F-5’s again.

Then basically went through the same process with the Marchetti.

It was a little bit quicker.

Like I said it’s a simpler jet, so it was faster even though it’s got more modern components on the inside.

It’s significantly easier to fly, stalls at a much lower airspeed.

It’s a trainer plane after all, so it’s meant to be flown by inexperienced pilots but it’s super fun.

It’s very nimble, better in the vertical aerobatics than the F-5 because it’s got a better wing that’s designed more for that kind of activity.

Just a really honest flying aeroplane. It was a joy to fly it, took a couple of training flights in that and then went did my check ride and no problem in that same basic parameters for the check ride.

So that was it.

It was cool, it was great to do and I’m really excited and thrilled to be back in the world of jet aviation – pointy nosed jet aviation, not commercial jet aviation.

I think I’ve got some photos and some videos to share with you and that will be fun.

I’d like to remind you all to sign up on the website if you want to get the updates on any stuff like this, or the updates on the new book, the sequel of “Lions of the Sky” which is called “The Dragon.”

I’ve already got the title & a fair chunk of the book already written.

To sign up for the updates, go to or if you want to go to Facebook, you’re a Facebook user, just go to Paco Chierici-Author on Facebook.

Hope to see you again.

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4 Responses

  1. Alan Chan says:

    Hello I used to fly for ROCAF on the F5E/F now I fly for an airline in the United States
    I am also interested in the CF-5D Flight training wondering where did you receive the type rating on those jet ?

    • Eran Malloch says:

      Hi Alan, and apologies for the late reply! I seem to recall Paco telling me this was a private setup. I’m not sure it’s something that is available to the general public, even with a military aviation background?

  2. Don Ricci says:

    My name is Don Ricci and I am with the Pacific Coast Air Museum in Santa Rosa, California. We have acquired one of your old VFC-13 F-5Ns 721387 that was “00” during the time you were filming “Speed and Angels” and I believe it was assigned to “Bucket” before his retirement. So proud to be displaying a bit of Saints history on our flight line! We will be repainting the aircraft in its VFC-13 two tone camo and wanted to have “Bucket’s” name put back on the canopy rail. Do you by chance have any photos of how his name was on “00” before change of command? If you or any VFC-13 alumni are ever in Northern California come on by and sit in your old steed F-5! Beer’s on me! Check 6! Don

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