Today in History – June 15, 1971 -Capt. Howard C. Thompson lands safely after NF-104 Starfighter rocket explosion.

15 June 1971 – Lockheed NF-104A Starfighter, #56-0756, c/n 183-1044, assigned to Aerospace Research Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California, suffered a second rocket explosion on this date, blowing the whole rocket motor and part of rudder off in flight at 35.000 ft and Mach 1.15. Pilot Capt. Howard C. Thompson landed safely.

NF-104A Starfighter, 56-0756

NF-104A (USAF 56-0756) was accepted by the USAF on 1 October 1963. It quickly established a new unofficial altitude record of 118,860 feet (36,230 m) and surpassed this on 6 December 1963 by achieving an altitude of 120,800 feet (36,800 m).

As the NF-104 project was due to end soon after, the aircraft was written off and portions of it were used to create the composite “760” sitting on a pole at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB.(1)

Source: (1) Wikipedia Portal Aviation & Wikipedia

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