17 July 1965

North American Aviation XB-70A-2-NA 62-0207 takes off for the first time at AF Plant 42, 17 July 1965. (U.S. Air Force)

17 July 1965: At Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, the second North American Aviation B-70 Valkyrie prototype, XB-70A-2-NA 62-0207, took off on its maiden flight enroute Edwards Air Force Base where it would continue the flight test program with its sister ship.

The Valkyrie was designed as a Mach 3+ strategic bomber, capable of flight above 70,000 feet (21,336 meters), with intercontinental range. It’s altitude allowed it to avoid interceptors of the time, but improvements in radar-guided surface-to-air missiles increased its vulnerability. Ultimately, though, political decisions ended the B-70 program.

62-0207 was flown just 46 times, for a total of 92 hours, 22 minutes of flight. Changes to the aircraft corrected the deficiencies discovered in testing the Number 1 XB-70A, 62-0001. The most visible change was 5° dihedral added to the wings for improved stability. On 16 April 1966, 62-0207 reached its maximum design speed, Mach 3.08, which it sustained for 20 minutes.

Less than one year after its first flight, 8 June 1966, the Valkyrie was involved in a mid-air collision with a Lockheed F-104N and crashed just north of Barstow, California. North American’s B-70 test pilot, Al White, was seriously injured and co-pilot, Major Carl Cross, USAF, was killed. NASA test pilot Joe Walker, flying the F-104, was also killed.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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7 thoughts on “17 July 1965

  1. Wouldn’t 207 have reached its peak speed in 1966 since April 1965 is before it flew for the first time?

  2. What an amazing aircraft. I had the chance to see it at Paterson, impressive and beautiful in her white livery. I know only one aircraft chalenging this one for her perfect lines, Concorde. You never speak about Concorde !

  3. Perhaps you already know this, but there is an artist, Ron Cole, who offers prints of various aircraft which include pieces of the airframe/fuselage.

    Three of his works are of this aircraft. I have two of them.

  4. Concorde remains the only passenger SST As one Captain remarked in a presentation – ‘the Russians couldn’t, the Americans wouldn’t but the French/British did QED

    1. The reason the “Americans wouldn’t” is because Boeing (And others working on the American SST project) came to the (correct) conclusion the proposed aircraft would never earn a dime for the manufacturer or the airlines that might have flown it. It was a vanity project, pure and simple.

      I seem to remember reading a quote from one of the NAA XB-71 test pilots who said to his co-pilot “The only thing we’ll ever drop on someone with this plane is knowledge.” I think I read that in the late, lamented Airpower magazine.

      1. TDiA suspects that Boeing or Lockheed would have built an SST if they had been subsidized by the government like Aérospatiale and British Aerospace.

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