The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.      The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.
     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.

     The most iconic 747 in the world; there is no more appropriate place for this aircraft than Palmdale, California. N911NA, the second of only two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), first flew for NASA in 1990 after being converted from a Japan Airline 747-100R. She was the second of only two SCA aircraft, initially used in 1991 to ferry the shiny new Endeavour orbiter from the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. She was based out of Palmdale, performing 66 space shuttle ferry flights.

     Her final flight brought her back to Palmdale on February 8, 2012. N911NA was stored at NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center and used to spare parts for N747NA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) aircraft. The Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale, California has the honor of displaying this bird as of September 12, 2014. She will still be used as a replacement part resource for the SOFIA aircraft.

     The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)      The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.
     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.
     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)

     The Space Shuttle External Tank can be broken down into three main parts; a small tank holding liquid hydrogen (LH2), a larger tank holding liquid oxygen (LOX) and an intertank which joins the two sections together.

     The LH2 tank shown in the photos is an early construction called the Ground Vibration Test Article (GVTA). This tank was fully assembled along with the LOX and intertank sections, and mated to the Pathfinder Orbiter (shown in a previous post, click here to view). This arrangement was placed inside the Dynamic Test Stand at NASA Marshall Space flight Center (shown in a previous post, click here to view) to test how the orbiter fit in the stand, which had just been expanded for the size of the shuttle. Then, the GVTA was mated to the Enterprise orbiter, and vibrated for hours to simulate launch.

     The GVTA is now stored at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. I covered the LOX GVTA in a previous post (click here to view)

     Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.      Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.
     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.
    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.
     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.

     Growing up, I was a Lockheed kid. My grandfather, who took a hand in raising me, was a Skunk Works engineer through the golden age of black spy planes and stealth technology. I was born in Marietta, Georgia, just up the road from the historic Lockheed plant. I was not yet five years old when I’d formed the biased opinion that Lockheed’s YF-22 prototypes were the coolest, most fantastic thing in the sky, and the Northrop YF-23 prototypes were lumpy, funny looking attempts at fighter jets, the likes of which could surely never compete with the product of my grandpa’s company. I knew that the two aircraft had battled it out in a prototyping competition flyoff. Lockheed’s YF-22 had won, which was no surprise to me, in my young mind. One morning, my parents informed me that our Lockheed Marietta Plant had won the contract to build the F-22 production model right there in my hometown. We drove by the plant and saw local news media crews enthusiastically broadcasting live, surely proud that so much work was coming to the area. On September 7, 1997, I stood on the flightline with my grandfather at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and watched the first flight of the first F-22 production model. I was in awe, so proud of my grandpa’s company, and happy that they’d beat Northrop.

     Decades later, I’m now able to face the world armed with more equanimity, and I’ve formed a more objective opinion of the Northrop YF-23. Only now, can I understand what an incredible aircraft the YF-23 is, and how close we were to losing that contract. This opinion was reinforced when I finally saw a Northrop YF-23 in person. My first experience with the bird happened on September 9, 2014, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, California. To see her, I had to be escorted across the Torrance Airport flight line, to an area cordoned off for restoration work, where this bird is half way through with receiving a new coat of paint. When I rounded a corner and I first laid eyes on the her, I was awestruck. The stealthy, triolithic profile of the aircraft was distinctly Northrop, reminiscent of their B-2. The aircraft seemed to change shape as you walked around it.

    Photographing up close was thrilling because there were only two ever built, and they were bathed in secrecy for so long. This was the second prototype built, called 87-0801 PAV-II. Many performance aspects of the aircraft are unknown, but we do know that this prototype, with the GE YF120 engine, was the fastest of the four aircraft that competed in the Advanced Tactical Fighter Flyoff. Her top speed is still classified, but it is widely speculated that she could fly faster than Mach two. She was the stealthiest aircraft involved in the prototyping program, but not quite as agile as the YF-22, which may have led to her downfall.

     To truly understand the world of aviation, you must look at things objectively. I certainly found a new respect for the YF-23, even with my Lockheed roots. The YF-23 is one of the most incredible flying machines ever conceived.

     The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).      The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 
     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).

     The historic SR-71 Simulator, on display at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is a must see for any Blackbird enthusiast. This photoset displays the instructor cockpit, aft of the pilot cockpit. The flight instructor would ride behind the pilot, relentlessly subjecting him to various malfunctions and emergencies to hone the student’s contingency procedure performance. The instructor had a duplicate set of flight instruments, so he could more easily monitor what the pilot saw in the cockpit. This was an easy way to train without endangering the instructor, or risking an actual Blackbird aircraft, which was a multimillion dollar national asset. 

     Each gauge, button and toggle is connected to a central computer, which you can view in a previous post (click here to view). I thought it was interesting to see a simple household smoke detector, wired to the computer, just like all other components, shown in the final photo. To see photos of the pilot’s cockpit, check out another previous post (click here to view).

September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country. September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country. September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country. September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country. September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country. September 11, 2014
     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.
     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country.

September 11, 2014

     Today, I photographed Space Shuttle Endeavour Orbiter at California Science Center in Los Angeles. Endeavour was built to replace the Challenger orbiter after she and her crew were lost on January 28, 1986. Just like our nation eleven years ago, Endeavour proudly rose from the ashes of disaster. Personally, this represents what it means to be proud of my country. I had a powerful moment of silence and remembrance while standing beside her.

     Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of Project Habu, and helping me celebrate my pride in my country. Never forget September Eleventh, and never forget what makes you proud to be a part of your country.

     F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.      F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.
     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

     F-104N 812, originally called 012, served NASA from 1963 to 1987, retiring after 4,442 flights. After that, she was stored at Edwards Air Force Base and used for spare parts for NASA’s growing fleet of eleven F-104 aircraft. After retirement, 812 went on display in the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. In 1997, she was moved to the Lockheed Palmdale plant, and converted to look more like an XF-104, with her inlet cones, top fairings, and paint removed. In 2005, she was painted to resemble her original 1963 markings, but still lacking inlet cones and top fairings. She rests on display in front of the Lockheed Skunk Works at Palmdale, California.

     812 is one of three F-104N aircraft in total; 811, 812, and 813, manufactured by Lockheed specifically for NASA flight research. These three aircraft met different fates. 813 was lost in a tragic accident on June 8, 1966, while flying in close formation with an XB-70 for a photo shoot. The F-104 collided with the XB-70, causing the loss of pilots Joe Walker and Carl Cross. Pilot Al White ejected from the XB-70, but was seriously injured. 811 was flown by a NASA Dryden test pilot who would eventually become the first man to set foot on the Moon. After that, the Dryden facility has been renamed, “NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center”. 811 is now on display at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.

     U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.      U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.
     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.
     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.
     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 
     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.
     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.
     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.

     U-2D #56-6721, on display at Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale, California, has quite a story to tell. Our story begins nine months before Francis Gary Powers was shot down, before the U-2 became a household name. On August 3, 1959, Taiwanese pilot Hsichun Mike Hua was on his seventh training mission in this very aircraft, flying from Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas, to Ogden, Utah and back, practicing navigation by the stars.

     On his way back from Ogden, Hua’s engine flamed out at 70,000 feet above Delta, Utah. His pressure suit inflated as he began to descend toward the thick clouds below. When his pressure suit inflated it constricted his neck, and limited mobility to all of his limbs. Hua tried to restart his J57 engine multiple times, to no avail. As he descended into the clouds, he encountered rough air the aircraft became very difficult to keep under control. He considered bailing out, but he hesitated because the terrain below him was obscured. Hua was over the Rocky Mountains and knew that his aircraft was descending through the altitude of the peaks surrounding him. He called to a local Air Force Base, but no one answered. Dark, alone, surrounded by mountains that he couldn’t see; this was a very bad situation.

     Finally, Hua emerged from the clouds. He peered to both sides of his aircraft, and saw the dark silhouettes of mountains stretching above his altitude. Right in front of him, he could see the lights of a city, which we now know was Cortez, Colorado. Hua carefully balanced his aircraft at best glide speed and headed toward the lights. As he got closer, he spotted alternating blue and white flashes, which was the rotating beacon at Cortez Municipal Airport. Eventually, he got close enough to spot runway lights.

     Still, Hua was faced with a tough situation. Landing the U-2, even under the best conditions, is one of the most difficult feats in aviation. Under normal circumstances, a ground crew in a fast car will actually chase the aircraft on the runway as it lands, giving landing feedback to the pilot via radio, just to perform the procedure safely. Hua had no chase car. He was landing at an unfamiliar airport in the dark with his pressure suit inflated, deadstick, with only six prior missions under his belt. 

     Hua, after gliding over 200 miles from the point which he flamed out, finally landed. When his tires touched the tarmac, his landing gear collapsed. He was unable to keep the wings level as the belly scraped along. His left wingtip touched the pavement which caused him to ground loop. Incredibly, he and the aircraft were in one piece.

     He hopped out of his crippled U-2 and walked to the FBO, where he found the airport manager. The manager couldn’t believe his eyes. There stood a Taiwanese man dressed in a pressure suit, speaking in a foreign accent, taking him to a downed aircraft he’d never heard of before. The manager told Hua how he was just about to extinguish the lights and leave for the night.

     Laughlin Air Force Base was contacted, who immediately sent a C-124 cargo aircraft to investigate and collect the wreckage. It turned out that a leaky fuel line caused the near fatal flameout. The aircraft, shown above, was repaired and sent back into service. Hua was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. This tale is now referred to as the Miracle at Cortez.

     Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.      Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.
     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.

     Welcome to Building 115 at NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. 115 is one of the newer buildings at Michoud, originally constructed to house assembly for the cancelled Constellation Program Ares Rocket. The large rings were used for the Ares. Now, 115 houses the Vertical Weld Center for our new SLS rocket, which will eventually take humans to Mars.

     The large blue and yellow machine is a robotic friction stir welder, meant to join curved panel sections (shown in the bottom two photos), creating barrel sections. A partially welded barrel section rests in the welder. These barrels will be joined together, creating the body of the core stage of the SLS. The panels and barrels shown in these photos, as seen on on June 30, 2014, are not flight ready components. These sections are confidence articles, and will be tested and studied to make sure the system is ready for flight article production.

     Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.      Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.

     Titanium Goose #06927, the most unique of the Blackbird fleet, was the only two-seat A-12 trainer ever built. The first five A-12 aircraft, this being the fourth, were initially flown with J75 engines, because the A-12 airframe was ready for testing, the J58 was bogged down with developmental problems. These less powerful J75 engines would allow the aircraft to reach a maximum Mach 2, and 60,000 feet. Once the J58 was available, all of the A-12 aircraft were upgraded, allowing them to reach a maximum of Mach 3.35 and 95,000 feet, except this one. Our Titanium Goose kept the J75 engines through her total time of service, retiring with 1076.4 hours in the air, spanning 614 individual flights, over double that of any other A-12. Once retired, she spent years in storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, until August 2003, when she was put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. She was the last A-12 to be put on display to the public.

     The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.      The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.
     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.
     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.

     The Blackbird aircraft and Space Shuttle were related in many ways. A commonly shared piece of trivia is, the pressure suits that shuttle astronauts wore were based on the Blackbird pressure suits. A lesser known fact; the early shuttle flights carried modified Blackbird ejection seats. Lockheed’s SR-1 ejection seats, installed in later model Blackbirds, were modified and tested to work with the shuttle cabin layout. SR-1 variants were flown on Columbia’s two-man test missions, STS-1 thru STS-4. The seats did fly on STS-5, but were deactivated with the addition of two more crew members. Ejection seats also flew on Enterprise’s free-flight landing tests.

     The Space Shuttle Escape System Test Vehicle, pictured above, rests on display at Joe Davies Heritage Airpark in Palmdale California. Starting in late 1976, Rockwell International fired this vehicle, mounted atop a rocket sled, down the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The test article traveled in excess of 500 mph, then blew its escape hatches, firing the ejection seats, carrying pressure-suited dummies away from the vehicle. After one test, the airborne escape hatch struck the test dummy when it fell to earth, slicing it in half.

     Before the shuttle, every NASA rocket made several unmanned test flights before putting a human at risk; but not the shuttle. This first test flight, STS-1, had to be crewed by two astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, who launched from the comfort of their SR-1 ejection seats. When questioned about the dangers of actually ejecting during launch, Crippen expressed that after ejection, the astronaut could have immediately been engulfed by the solid rocket booster exhaust plume. If the astronaut somehow dodged the fiery exhaust, the parachute would have surely melted, being in close proximity to the intense heat radiation produced by the plume. In a pre-flight press conference, Young was questioned about the same issue. A reporter said, “It’s still not completely clear to me whether or not you can abort with the ejection seat during the burn of the solids”. Young smartly replied, ”You just pull the little handle”, causing a hearty chuckle from the crowd at the reporter’s expense.