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chase plane

n. An aircraft that flies alongside another, to advise or photograph it while experimental flights are being carried out.

Chase plane

A chase plane is an aircraft that "chases" a "subject" aircraft, spacecraft or rocket, for the purposes of making real-time observations and taking air-to-air photographs and video of the "subject aircraft", during flight.

Safety can be one function of a chase plane; others are to photograph or video the target vehicle, or to collect engineering data from it. Chase planes may be used during test flights, and for many years the best way to ensure the safety of an experimental aircraft was to fly alongside it and observe the flight.

This "chase" airplane's crew would keep a constant lookout for problems with the "subject" or test aircraft, and if problems did arise, they would provide warnings and critical information to the test aircraft's crew, and to the mission controllers on the ground. They would also monitor the surrounding airspace for other aircraft that could pose a hazard to the flight, either by straying into their flightpath or threatening any kind of secrecy associated with that particular project.

Since the early days of USAF testing, the chase aircraft have been manned by test pilots just like the experimental planes they accompany, providing a common language and bond between test pilot and observer. The experienced pilots in the chase aircraft could guide distressed test aircraft down to safe landings should experiments go wrong.

Category:Aircraft operations

Usage examples of "chase plane".

No doubt they'd be convening an accident board, and as the original flight leader and close chase plane he'd be the star witness.

If you look to your left, you will see our chase plane coming alongside.

Which was precisely why Jake had assigned him to fly the chase plane.

Unfortunately, on one of it's first tests it collided with its chase plane and crashed, killing all seven of its crew.

The exchange between Eyeball, the lead air force chase plane that would escort the shuttle, and the control tower at Groome Lake was listened to intently by a number of people.

These, it was hoped, would let the chase plane fly the B-17 by remote control.