Eagle Reborn: F-15 Simulator From A Wreck

This story started all the way back in September 12, 1981, when an F-15C aircraft’s landing attempt at Soesterberg Airbase during an airshow went completely FUBAR and the airframe was scrapped. The forward fuselage section was sold and eventually ended up with [Gene Buckle] who began work on creating a fully accurate F-15C simulator using these parts. He has blogged about his progress since 2009 over at the project website.

The F-15C was number 80-0007, which at the time of the crash had flown only 9.5 hours total, making it a very early retirement for an incredible fighter jet. But now the Eagle is back, or at least part of it: [Gene] managed to get the whole system into a state where the instrumentation and controls work again, using the original computer systems and instruments where they were still usable. You can find the YouTube video embedded after the break as well.

Detailed technical information on the F-15 series and this simulator build can be found on the project site, which is awesome both for F-15 fans and those who are into really accurate simulators.

Video of the poor plane meeting its end:

Props to [spacedog] for submitting this tip!

36 thoughts on “Eagle Reborn: F-15 Simulator From A Wreck

    1. The pilot in command was actually the squadron training officer for the F-15. He’d had more that 600 hours in-type before the accident. He got “behind” the jet and never caught up. It’s known as “overcome by events”. He wasn’t injured, but was killed in an accident in the mid-80s’ while flying an F-16.

      1. Gene, I hope this tangled search for you, ends here.

        Any possibility you still have this address and you know of a way to combine the two above controller & chip? I am trying to bypass the HOTAS Warthog Throttle and flight stick boards And go directly From my 333CHT(apparently earlier version of the MLX90333) to a Leo Bodnar USB Board http://www.leobodnar.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=94&products_id=219 . Do you think that’s doable, or do I need to use two separate Hall sensors for roll and pitch?

        Thanks,and have a healthy, challenging and fruitful day!


        If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
        Martin Luther King, Jr –

  1. I must be missing something. that video doesn’t seem to have anything to do with an F15 at all. Specifically, this video is about an ATC-810 sim setup for a Cessna 410. Rather a long way from an F15!

    1. haven’t watched it yet, but I saw the thumbnail and was like “WTF?! why’s there a yolk?” so thanks for pointing that out. still though the image I get when I think of a yolk controlled fighter getting in to a dogfight is rather humorous.

    2. I hardly know anything about fighter jets and smaller aircraft… But when he started to talk about the mixture and the magnetos, i started to get confused about why a fighter jet would have magnetos…

  2. I was like… huh, what the avionics beep beep and I used to smoke a lot, maybe because I didn’t inhale?

    Did a double check since I only flew the F-117A and older aircraft like from Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe.

    Found this image of the cockpit: https://www.airgoons.com/wiki/images/thumb/e/e2/F15C-Dash.jpg/800px-F15C-Dash.jpg
    Then these variations: http://2k8r3p1401as2e1q7k14dguu-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Benitez-6-3-19-figure-3.png

    I’ll have to read into the website and listen to the video now. Crash looked like two videos spliced.

    Neat story and article anyway. Maybe he’s not as savvy of a programmer to recreate the displays yet.

  3. Oh my god. My F-15C project hits Hackaday…and hilarity ensues. *sigh*

    Ok, first of all – the website IS about my F-15C and it’s (incredibly) long road to becoming a 2300lb joystick. However, the video the submitter linked doesn’t have a thing to do with the F-15C, beyond it being in the same room. The video(s) I’ve done over the past view days feature an ATC-810 twin engine flight simulator. It’s primary job is CPT (cockpit procedures training) and flight under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). That’s why there’s no actual visual system installed. The ATC-810 I have was built in 1982 and is mostly driven by analog electronics. It comes with a 6802 CPU sporting a whopping 1K of RAM. The only tasks the CPU has is dealing with the fuel and navigation. Just about all the instruments are driven by analog circuitry. (I’m going to be doing a number of videos and detailed blog posts that cover exactly how all that analog witchcraft works.)

    While I greatly appreciate my projects being featured on Hackaday, it would be nice if you guys did just a teeny bit of research before kitbashing to completely different projects together and present them as one. 🙂

    Also, eggs have “yolks”. Airplanes have “yokes”. 😉


        1. That was my favourite of your projects. One idea that I had to make the whole thing less noisy was to add a gas cylinder with a ‘piston’ inside. Once the air pressure in the system had dropped enough to get the mylar to the right curvature, the shop vac could be turned off and the vacuum replenished by pulling the piston a bit with a winch. If that method didn’t provide enough vacuum for long enough, then you could just use a second piston. Does that make sense?

          1. The problem is that it’s not a perfectly sealed system. Even the big commercial systems have small leaks in them. The trick is to either increase the surface area of the mirror, or use a larger draw port.

            I designed a 737-sized one for a friend (he’s in Colorado and the system is available for sale/trade/?) and he was able to manage the mirror shape using a tiny portable shop vac.

            Managing the mirror shape with a speed controller really helped with the noise (no “whistling” through the vent box). If I do it again, I might try it with a large brushless motor and a squirrel cage housing. That’ll give me much finer control over the motor RPM and it can pull a huge volume of air.

          2. Hmmm… Good point. There would need to be a way to reset the piston mid-use, once it got to the end of its travel. You’d definitely need a reservoir with a seperate control valve to maintain vacuum while the piston is cycling. (…and yes, I realize that a standard piston-type vacuum pump works the same way, but those are small, fast, and noisy; this is big, slow, and quiet. The first is good for a continual vacuum, while the second is only practical to maintain one against leaks.)

          3. …and as I realize I didn’t specify the size of the cylinder (DOH!), I meant the 5’+, 244+ cu ft. welding gas cylinders; something big and strong enough to hold a lot of vacuum–though an old propane tank from a BBQ would work as well. You can get retired ones for just the cost of the steel from any scrapyard/recycler.

    1. Gene–thanks for sharing all your journey rebuilding on your F-15C. Don’t know if you remember–we emailed back and forth several years ago. My uncle was the one flying that day at Soesterberg. It being Memorial Day today, my mind tends to wander and settle on him. Anyway, wanted to let you know how much I appreciated our previous conversation. My son, then in middle school, was a part of that conversation. He has always been interested in jet and rocket engines, aerodynamics, engineering, etc. I recently learned he, now a junior in an engineering magnet program, uses “shrimpboat” a name for his class aerospace team and the occasional rocket. Apparently you and your blog made a real impression on him. Thank you.

  4. Hack-a-day or should it be We-didn’t-do-our-home-work-and-maybe-just-lifted-this-and-phoned-it-in-a-day ?
    Last I checked, not many side-by-side F-15’s with yokes…. And when the subject “hacker” chimes in to spank you, yikes!

        1. Maybe so, but it doesn’t look like any part of any crater I know of that also is a lake. The only lake/crater combos I know of are high enough that there isn’t a lot of vegetation around the rim.

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