The XB-70 Valkyrie No. 2 was destroyed on Jun. 8, 1966 following an accidental mid-air collision
Taken on Jul. 17, 1965, the impressive photo in this post shows the North American XB-70 Valkyrie No. 2 arriving at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) following its maiden flight from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
Noteworthy this aircraft was destroyed on Jun. 8, 1966 following an accidental mid-air collision.
The XB-70 Valkyrie was originally designed in the 1950s as a Mach 3 bomber but eventually it never went into production because new Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) threatened the survivability of high-speed, high-altitude bombers. Moreover less costly, nuclear-armed ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) were also entering service.
Instead the Valkyrie was used for flight research involving the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and NASA‘s Flight Research Center (FRC), which was a predecessor of today’s NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.
In fact the XB-70 was the world’s largest experimental aircraft and was eventually used to collect in-flight information for use in the design of future supersonic aircraft, military and civilian. The major objectives of the XB-70 flight research program were to study the airplane’s stability and handling characteristics, to evaluate its response to atmospheric turbulence, and to determine the aerodynamic and propulsion performance. In addition there were secondary objectives to measure the noise and friction associated with airflow over the airplane and to determine the levels and extent of the engine noise during takeoff, landing, and ground operations.
Photo credit: Edwards History Office file photo