Today in History – June 15, 1971 – NF-104 A Starfighter suffers 2nd explosion

15 June 1971 Lockheed NF-104A Starfighter, 56-0756, c/n 183-1044, assigned to Aerospace Research Pilot School, Edwards AFB, California, suffers second rocket explosion 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 lands safely but as the NF-104 project is due to end soon aircraft is written off and portions of it used to create the composite “760” sitting on a pole at the Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards AFB.

Three aircraft were modified from existing Lockheed F-104A Starfighter airframes and served with the Aerospace Research Pilots School between 1963 and 1971. The modifications included a small supplementary rocket engine and a reaction control system for flight in the stratosphere.

During the test program, the maximum altitude reached was more than 120,000 ft (36,600 m). One of the aircraft was destroyed in an accident while being flown by Chuck Yeager. The accident was depicted in the book The Right Stuff and the film of the same name.

Source: Wikipedia


Scroll to Top