Original U.S. Crash Fragments from F-104 Starfighter & North American XB-70 Valkyrie Collision - June 8 1966

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a great piece of U.S. Aviation and Cold War History. Test pilots have always been a rare breed, due to both the skills required, and the inherent risk of piloting experimental aircraft. The number of aircraft and pilots lots over the years is unfortunately not a small number.

This is a set of crash artifacts from a collision between the F-104 Starfighter and the experimental XB-70 Long Range Strategic Bomber.  The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was the prototype version of the planned B-70 nuclear-armed, deep-penetration strategic bomber for the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. Designed in the late 1950s by North American Aviation (NAA), the six-engined Valkyrie was capable of cruising for thousands of miles at Mach 3+ while flying at 70,000 feet (21,000 m).

The bomber happened to use General Electric Jet Engines, so the company arranged for a publicity photograph that would utilize various other planes that used their engines as chase aircraft. This was however not an authorized flight, and unfortunately unforeseen aerodynamic issues caused by the closer proximity of the chase aircraft to the bomber led to an in air collision resulting in the deaths of two pilots.

In the center top is the following caption:

In 1957 North American received a contract to build a strategic (nuclear) bomber. The end result cam in 1964. The B-70! Able to fly at altitudes above 70,000 feet at mach 3.

On June 8, 1966 while conducting a General Electric photo session on GE powered aircraft, a freak mid-air collision occurred involving the B-70 (flown by test pilot Al White) and the F-104 (Flown by famed test pilot Joe Walker). The accident tragically took the lives of both Joe Walker and the B-70 co-pilot Carl Cross. Al White managed to eject from the mortality wounded B-70, but was seriously injured.

This display contains crash site fragments of both aircraft and stands as a grim reminder on the danger and sacrifice made by our test pilots.

To the left of the caption is a picture of the F-104 Starfighter, other chase aircraft, and the XB-70 Valkyrie flying in formation, and to the right is a picture after the collision of Joe Walker's plane and the bomber.  The lower corners have the crash fragments, though the set does not indicate which goes with which plane. In the center is an envelope from the 82nd flight of the XB-70 Valkyrie with the names of Fitz Fulton and Ted Sturmthal on it. 

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 flight 82, and also were the pilots for the final test flight at Edwards Air Force Base.

All of this is very nicely mounted under a sheet of glass in a metal frame. It measures about 27 3/4" W x 1/4" x 14 1/2" H x 1 3/8", and is in wonderful display condition. A great piece of cold war and test pilot memorabilia!

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