21 September 1964

North American Aviation XB70A-1-NA 62-001 takes off for the first time, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)
North American Aviation XB70A-1-NA 62-0001 takes off for the first time, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)

21 September 1964: The first prototype North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie, serial number 62-0001, flown by Chief Test Pilot Alvin S. White and Colonel Joseph F. Cotton, U.S. Air Force, made its first flight from Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California, to Edwards Air Force Base.

Originally a prototype Mach 3 strategic bomber, 62-0001 (also known as AV-1) and it’s sister ship, XB-70A-2-NA, 62-0207, (AV-2), were built and used by the Air Force and NASA as high-speed research aircraft. The third Valkyrie, XB-70B-NA 62-0208 (AV-3), was never completed.

Major Joseph F. Cotton, USAF, and Alvin S. White, North American Aviation, with the XB-70A Valkyrie. (Autographed photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, TEST & RESEARCH PILOTS, FLIGHT TEST ENGINEERS)
Colonel Joseph F. Cotton, USAF, and Alvin S. White, North American Aviation, with an XB-70A Valkyrie. (Autographed photograph courtesy of Neil Corbett, TEST & RESEARCH PILOTS, FLIGHT TEST ENGINEERS)

The B-70 was designed as a high-altitude Mach 3 strategic bomber armed with thermonuclear bombs. The XB-70A is 196 feet, 6 inches (59.893 meters) long with a wingspan of 105 feet (32.004 meters) and an overall height of 30 feet, 8 inches (9.347 meters). It weighs 231,215 pounds (104,877 kilograms) empty and has a maximum takeoff weight of 534,792 pounds (242,578 kilograms).

The XB-70’s delta wing had a total area of 6,297 square feet (585.01 square meters). it had a sweep of 58.0° at 25% chord. The angle of incidence was 0° and the wing incorporated 3.0° negative twist. There was no dihedral. (The second XB-70 had 5° dihedral.) The outer wing panels could be lowered as much as 60° to increase longitudinal stability in high speed flight.

The XB-70A was powered by six General Electric YJ93-GE-3 single-spool, axial-flow turbojet engines, which used an 11-stage compressor and two-stage turbine. The engine required a special heat-resistant JP-6 fuel. It had a maximum continuous power rating of 28,000 pounds of thrust (124.55 kilonewtons) at 6,825 r.p.m. The YJ93-GE-3 was 19 feet, 8.3 inches (6.002 meters) long, 4 feet, 6.15 inches (1.375 meters) in diameter, and weighed 5,220 pounds (2,368 kilograms).

A Boeing B-52 Stratofortress flies formation with North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001, approaching the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force)

The XB-70A had a maximum speed of Mach 3.1 (2,056 miles per hour, or 3,309 kilometers per hour). At 35,000 feet (10,668 meters), it could reach Mach 1.90 (1,254 miles per hour, or 2,018 kilometers per hour), and at its service ceiling of 75,550 feet (23,012 meters), it had a maximum speed of Mach 3.00 (1,982 miles per hour, or 3,190 kilometers per hour). The planned combat range for the production  bomber was 3,419 miles (5,502 kilometers) with a maximum range of 4,290 miles (6,904 kilometers).

North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001 made 83 flights with a total of 160 hours, 16 minutes flight time. 62-0001 is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001 lands at Edwards Air Force Base at the end of its first flight, 21 September 1964. (U.S. Air Force)
North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 just before landing at Runway 4 Right, Edwards Air Force Base, ending of its first flight, 21 September 1964. A Piasecki HH-21B rescue helicopter hovers over the adjacent taxiway. (U.S. Air Force)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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About Bryan Swopes

Bryan R. Swopes grew up in Southern California in the 1950s–60s, near the center of America's aerospace industry. He has had a life-long interest in aviation and space flight. Bryan is a retired commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor.

5 thoughts on “21 September 1964

  1. The outer wing panels could be lowered as much as 60° to increase longitudinal stability and also to increase Lift by “surfing” on the shock wave in high speed flight.
    The sister ship 62-0207 was later lost in a catastrophic inflight collision involvins one of the chase plane (a F104G) during a publicity photo shoot for shareholders of the General Electric Company

  2. Some of my best “AF BRAT” years were at Edwards (and I had many!) Coinciding with my “Elementary” and “HS” days (62-67′) we enjoyed seeing these things (fighters/ bombers/ X planes) flying around us. And because Edwards is actually a really small community, it was no coincidence that our classmates were children of these famous flyers (like Joe Cotton and Chuck Yeager and so many others). Chris Cotton! My old (Junior HS buddy) If you are out there, give me a jingle!

  3. Dear Mr Swopes.

    I cannot find a direct contact. I apologize for writing here, and urge you to remove/move this comment as you see fit.

    You had an article (November 24, 2021) on Jerome Boyle. I found your page because I read his book many years ago and found it one of the best reads I had come across.

    I have heard that perhaps he was once working on more books, though his passing would have ended such a project. I wanted to reach out to someone about if there will ever perhaps be a web achieve of his unfinished works. It may be that there isn’t much profit in finishing and publishing them, though if that was to happen I would gladly buy a copy. As your article is written as a person who knew him, perhaps you are the best person to ask about that. His book was a very fine thing, and the steam table incident had me in stitches. I’d had to see whatever else he wrote forgotten in a folder in the back of an office somewhere.

    Thank you,

    1. Jerry never finished his books. He had planned “Apache Noon” and “Apache Sunset,” but sadly, they never happened. Jerry was a good friend, but I for one, don’t know enough about his wartime experiences to take up where he left off.

  4. Oh, I wouldn’t imagine that anyone could fill in the gaps he left. Rather I’d like to see access made available to the unfinished works, in whatever condition they happen to be in.

    Maybe there’s nothing but an outline, or a few notes… but if there’s say, six or ten chapters in a filing cabinet or hard drive somewhere, I for one would like to read them. I doubt there’s money in it getting published, but I hate to think of it just being lost.

    If that’s impossible, so be it. Knew it was a long shot when I started searching…. but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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