4 February 1969

North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001. (U.S. Air Force)

4 February 1969: The North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie, 62-0001, made its very last flight from Edwards Air Force Base, California, to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. NASA Research Test Pilot Fitzhugh L. Fulton, Jr., Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired), and Lieutenant Colonel Emil Sturmthal, U.S. Air Force, were the flight crew for this final flight.

On arrival at Wright-Patterson, Fulton closed out the log book and handed it over to the curator of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The Mach 3+ prototype strategic bomber and high-speed, high-altitude research airplane had completed 83 flights for a total of 160 hours, 16 minutes of flight time.

Lieutenant Colonel Emil Sturmthal, USAF and Fitzhugh Fulton, NASA, with the North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA 62-0001 at Edwards AFB, California. (Chris Walmsley/Rockwell International)
Lieutenant Colonel Emil Sturmthal, USAF and Fitzhugh Fulton, NASA, with the North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA 62-0001 at Edwards AFB, California. (Chris Walmsley/Rockwell International)

62-0001 was the first of three prototype Mach 3+ strategic bombers. (The third prototype, XB-70B 62-0208, was not completed.) The Valkyrie utilized the most advanced technology available. Materials and manufacturing techniques had to be developed specifically to build this airplane. It is a large delta wing airplane with a forward canard and two vertical fins. The outer 20 feet (6.096 meters) of each wing could be lowered to a 25° or 65° angle for high speed flight. Although this did provide additional directional stability, it actually helped increase the compression lift, which supported up to 35% of the airplane’s weight in flight.

The XB-70A is 185 feet, 10 inches (56.642 meters) long with a wingspan of 105 feet (32.004 meters) and overall height of 30 feet, 9 inches (9.373 meters). Fully loaded, the Valkyrie weighs 534,700 pounds (242,535 kilograms).

It is powered by six General Electric YJ93-GE-3 turbojet engines which were rated at 22,000 pounds of thrust (97.86 kilonewtons) at Sea Level, and 31,000 pounds (137.89 kilonewtons) with afterburner. The J93 was a single-shaft axial-flow turbojet with an 11-stage compressor section and two-stage turbine. It was 235.0 inches (5.969 meters) long, 55.0 inches (1.397 meters) in diameter, and weighed 4,770 pounds (2,164 kilograms).

The maximum speed achieved was Mach 3.1 (2,056 miles per hour, or 3,308.8 kilometers per hour) at 73,000 feet (22,250 meters). The service ceiling is 73,350 feet (23,357 meters).

The second Valkyrie, XB-70A-2-NA 62-0207, was destroyed when it crashed after a mid-air collision with a Lockheed F-104N Starfighter flown by NASA Chief Research Test Pilot Joseph A. Walker, 8 June 1966. Both Walker and the B-70’s co-pilot, Major Carl S. Cross, U.S. Air Force, were killed.

XB-70A Valkyrie 62-0001 is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)
North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force)
 North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. This photograph shows the twelve elevons that act as elevators, flaps and ailerons, the swiveling action of the vertical fins, open drag chute doors and the variable exhaust outlets. (U.S. Air Force).
North American Aviation XB-70A-1-NA Valkyrie 62-0001 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. This photograph shows the twelve elevons that act as elevators, flaps and ailerons, the swiveling action of the vertical fins, open drag chute doors and the variable exhaust outlets. (U.S. Air Force).

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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7 thoughts on “4 February 1969

  1. You do a great job with this blog and I really enjoy and look forward to reading it each day.

    (I built a model of the Valkyrie when I was a kid. Someday I’m going to go to Dayton and see the real thing.)

    Tony

    1. Thank you, Anthony. I recall building the Aurora B-70 kit in the early ’60s. NMUSAF has recently moved the Valkyrie into their newly-completed fourth building. I would guess that one could spend DAYS there, checking out all the exhibits.

  2. Thank you for the photos of her arrival at W-PAFB and the NMUSAF. I had not seen those before. The Valkyrie is a beautiful airplane! I live near Dayton and love to get out to the museum whenever I can (which is not nearly often enough!). Thank you for this wonderful blog! Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you, Jenny. I had seen a b&w news photo of the XB-70 on very short final to the runway at W-P, but have not succeeded in finding it on the Internet, though not for lack of trying. :/ Thank you for being such a regular reader of TDiA. —Bryan

  3. Did engineering drawings of the 8- engine ADS bays for all three air vehicles at the original NAA wind tunnel building that was on Imperial Blvd at the Los Angeles airport (LAX) El Segundo. Went through these vehicles by flying on the NAA company DC-3 (yes…a DC-3) to the Palmdale Mohave desert build facility to checkout the assemblies. A great memory and a lot of satisfaction on contributing to the XB-70 effort. A fantastic aircraft made from stainless steel honeycomb. One of the main highlights to my 62 engineering career, which also included our space shuttle development, and moon exploration hardware.

    One remaining wish would be for something of that greatness for our young engineers of today to get involved with. It keeps you focused. What got me interested in aircraft / aerospace engineering ?………….being able to walk through the Hughes Spruce Goose flying boat at the age of 10 years while it was being built.

  4. The Air Force museum has a magnificent collection, but if there’s one star, it’s the Valkyrie. They may have a plane that dropped an atomic bomb in combat and the president’s personal transport, but only one plane has a cafe named after it.

    https://www.afmuseum.com/dining

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