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Published on 25 May 2009 | over 9 years ago

Test pilot Major Desmond Brophy (Canadian Air Force Exchange pilot) gives a tour of an F-16 Fighting Falcon (aka Viper) cockpit used for flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base.

If you're wondering what test pilots are doing in a relatively senior and proven airframe, the answer lies in continuous improvement and the fact that the airframe itself is far from the only thing that changes the flight characteristics of a modern fighter. These aircraft are inherently unstable and, though they are flown by pilots, it's computers that keep them in the air. When changes are made to the hardware software or weapons systems that give these aircraft their edge, test pilots are sent up to evaluate the effects of those changes on the aircraft's performance, capability and controllability. But enough with the big picture -- click through for your guided tour of the front office.

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