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January 20, 2018


A) thanks for the history lesson. I always like reading about the Valkyrie. Amazing the B-52 is still lumbering along and the planes designed to replace it are history.

B) those hats the girls are wearing need to make a comeback. :-)

Posted by: Ingineer66 | January 20, 2018 at 03:51 PM

Did anything happen to GE for being responsible for the photo shoot that lead to the destruction of 2 aircraft and loss of 2 lives?

And here I had managed to forget about the hats - must be why I have an aversion to wearing any type of hat now :)

That Valkyrie was a beautiful plane!

Ingineer--I was unable to find the official report on the crash; but, I found several websites with information. The most succinct info I found was Check-Six.com
"Four Air Force officers were charged with causing the crash. They were Colonel Joseph F. Cotton, the XB-70 test force director, and Albert M. Cates, director of systems test at Air Force Flight Test Center, Lt Col James G. Smith, the director of information (soon to be public affairs), and Lt. Bill Campbell, the chief of media relations at Edwards.
"According to Campbell, at the urging of a Texas congressman, and head of military appropriations, the Air Force convened a "collateral board" to find those responsible. Unfortunately, the man who was responsible, Joe Walker, perished in the mid-air."

Even to me, GE was not culpable. They used to tell me that anyone can ask any question; but, the people who answer the question (as in saying "yes" to GE's request) shouldn't be stupid enough to satisfy every question/request.

Bogie--I don't recall, but I'd be willing to bet that I (who also hate hats) also wore a hat that day. You and I sunburned enough without trying to do so. Like Wichidude, I've had enough cancerous and pre-cancerous chunks removed from my face that I'm glad that I took whatever precautions I did take. Now, I don't go out without a sun visor.

You may or may not recall that the reason we moved to Seattle was for your dad to work on Boeing's version of the civilian Mach 3 SST - later, cancelled.

Good point. Somebody at the AF could have said no. I am guessing that this kind of thing was/is commonplace for major contractors.

Ingineer--Exactly! At one point, working for a contractor to USAF, my bosses in Washington made sure that I wouldn't be shy about asking questions. Whether I got a useful answer or not was up to the USAF guys. I did take the precaution of double-checking that what the USAF guys told me could be passed along or used. Usually it was, but on occasion, it was not. (Similarly, in working with FEMA in my volunteer work, at times, they passed information to me that I could do nothing with until they gave me the "go ahead".) It isn't good for the government/USAF folks OR for me to get them in trouble for leaking information. I'm writing only about unclassified information, of course.

The Mig-25 was conceived as an interceptor to catch the Hustler, XB-70 etc and over 1000 were built and deployed. However, the Mig-25 could not sustain Mach 3 without damaging its engines. Nevertheless it held/holds? several speed records, altitude records and time-to-climb records. Afaik the XB-70 was never to reach Mach 3, Mach 2.5(?) being the fastest the prototype ever flew.

Stu--I think you've been snookered by an "Old Husband's Tale". Please see excerpts, below.

"October 14th, 1965. "On this flight the XB-70 proved its capability of attaining Mach 3 at 70,000 feet!" -- Al White's summary in the pilot's report for Flight 1-17."

"As AV/1 crossed the Mach 3 threshold, her nose abruptly pitched upwards. But even as Al White corrected, the nose just as sharply pitched downward. Combined with the correction, the XB-70 accelerated just enough to cause a brief moment of overpressure in the inlets. Stabilizing the Valkyrie, Al White keyed his microphone and spoke the words everyone had been waiting for, "There's that big magic number [Mach 3]." For almost three minutes, everything appeared fine. Suddenly, White and Cotton heard something behind them. Although no caution lights had come on, and concerned about damage caused by the overpressure, White decided to decelerate and let the chase planes catch up with the XB-70. When they did, they reported that about 2 feet of the left wing's leading edge was missing. Fortunately, the damaged section of the wing was far enough outboard that the debris wasn't drawn into the engine inlets. [Ed. note - it was on this flight that the Valkyrie carried a special cargo -- a bag of Idaho potatoes which were later presented to the small town of Brawley, Idaho, which had accepted being under the XB-70's flight path and being "boomed" all the time with smiles and good humor]"
"After 56 weeks and 17 flights, AV/1 had finally reached her goals -- but she would never fly at Mach 3 again. The design team, alarmed with the skin separation problems, and knowing that improvements in AV/2 would solve the problem, decided that from that point on, AV/1 would be limited to a maximum speed of Mach 2.5. Mach 3 research would be left to the improved, and more capable, second aircraft."
"Less than 6 months after her first flight, AV/2 reached her goal of Mach 3, on her 17th flight (coincidently, the same number of flights AV/1 to reach Mach 3). Just for three minutes, then back home for a thorough examination. No sign of skin damage at all! Prudence was still the watchword, however, and AV/2 twice more poked her sleek nose beyond Mach 3 for just a few minutes before sustaining Mach 3 for 15 minutes on her 22nd flight."
"Finally, on May 19th, flight number 39, AV/2 flew at Mach 3 for 33 minutes, and a total of 62 minutes beyond Mach 2.5. In just 91 minutes, the Valkyrie traveled over 2,400 miles -- an average speed of more than 1500 miles per hour, including takeoff and landing! Finally, all remaining concerns about skin separation were laid to rest. The improved methods used to build AV/2 were more than up to the task of sustained Mach 3 flight."


NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA, wind-tunnel studies led engineers at North American Aviation in Downey, CA, to build the second XB-70A (62-207) with an added 5 degrees of dihedral on the wings. This aircraft made its first flight on July 17, 1965. The changes resulted in much better handling, and the second XB-70 achieved Mach 3 for the first time on Jan. 3, 1966. The aircraft made a total of nine Mach 3 flights by June.


I have really enjoyed reading and watching all the posts about this plane. Since this was all 50+ years ago, why the heck aren’t we flying around the world at Mach speeds now. SFO to LGA or OGG in 2 hours would be nice. I have read they are working on new quieter SSTs, so maybe some day I will be able to make those trips at those speeds.

Good Info. Thanx.

Ingineer--The trip down memory lane has been fun! I hear you about the 2-hour trips. I used to hate the 5-hour trips between ATL and SEATAC. (BTW: I've not flown to Hawaii.) However, the demand just didn't support SS mass travel. Maintenance costs eat you alive, let alone manufacturing costs. Fortunately, financially speaking, by the time Boeing stopped SST design, our family had already left Seattle. Hunky Husband had been offered a job in Wichita to which he could not say no. Personally, I was disappointed to see Boeing drop the program.

Stu--It's a challenge to dig up data and determine what is believable/reliable. My memory said that Mach 3 flight had been achieved; but, we all know how reliable my memory is - NOT!
; )

Good point on the costs. I guess we know where Americans stand on the 5 hour flight for $179 versus 2 hour flight for $2000 debate.

Yes, I remember why I (we) wore hats (even when there were no parental types around), and am glad I did. Living in the upper Northeast, I rarely wear hats as sunburning is not such a problem. I do still wear sunscreen, but need it a lot less than in Kansas. No doubt if I were to be back in Kansas during summer, I would renew a relationship with hats -regardless of my personal preference for not doing so.

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