Inverted flight?


Vice President of Awesome
OK... It's time for another one of my completely silly questions...but I really am curious!

Can a commercial airliner fly upside down? I realize that onboard computers often prevent the plane from banking too much but let's just say hypothetically that the computers would allow it...Can it be done? I was watching TopGun last night and saw the F14's doing crazy rolls etc and it made me wonder if a much larger plane could fly upside down.
I know that some of the current Airbuses won't allow a bank over a certain setting....However!!!

Back in the 70's I believe that a pilot did an aileron roll in a DC-8 at an airshow.
The short answer is "no". The ever so slightly longer answer is the same as for the question "Can a C152 go over 150kt?" That is "for a short time". The real answer involves the intended mission of the aircraft design and has nothing to do with size. If a plane is not meant to fly inverted then the designer probably won’t spend any money to give it that capability.

I've never heard anything about DC-8s, 727s, golf tournaments or such Although those things could have happened, the origin of those stories is probably in the Tex Johnston demo flight of the Dash 80. Alvin Johnston, Boeing's chief test pilot rolled a 367-80 (prototype of both the KC135 and B707) over the Seafair Hydroplane races in 1955. It surprised the Boeing Execs and almost got him fired (according to legend), but it impressed the hell out of the airline execs who were there. It was a positive g maneuver and was done twice.
Dang, I thought I might have a video file of it on my computer, but I can't find it. Must've seen it on the tube.

But I do have one of a RC model DC-10 in Fedex colors doing a four point roll. Not the same thing, it's true.
Last September at an air show, I saw a modified Leer Passenger Jet perform all types of aerobatic maneuvers, including inverted flight. It was totally amazing!
That guy that does the Lear aerobatic flying, Bobby Younkin, is based at my home airport. I've seen him practice that stuff before. It's pretty amazing.
It was a 707 Test Flight.