Far from it, in fact – 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, or 'Viper' as it's better known to some. The jet is a US icon – created at the Pentagon by a group of combat veterans-turned-engineers known as the Fighter Mafia, it has a top speed of Mach 2 (680 metres per second for the uninitiated), and set endless new standards for fighter planes, including a bubble canopy for 360° vision, and a tilted seat to reduce the effects of G-force. Unbelievably, it's built to be intentionally unstable in the air, which somehow improves manoeuvrability and makes the aircraft more responsive (just don't ask us how that works).

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon Manual, written by Steve Davies, is available from haynes.co.uk, priced at £21.99.