Cold War Era

The Only Public Air Show in XB-70 Valkyrie History Featured some of the Coolest Aircraft Ever Built

Carswell AFB was to be the only airfield that XB-70 Valkyrie AV/2 would fly to and return before being destroyed following an accidental mid-air collision on Jun. 8, 1966.

Taken at Carswell Air Force Base (AFB), Texas in 1966 the cool photo in this post was taken during Combination Open House which had the honor of being the only public airshow in XB-70 Valkyrie history.

Although the iconic XB-70 was on display at several events at Edwards AFB, actually the Mach 3 bomber was not available to general public at Edwards but just the military according to XB-70 documents in the National Archive.

As this amazing picture shows, some of the coolest aircraft ever built took part in the airshow which was held on Mar. 24-26, 1966 in conjunction with the Air Force Association (AFA) 20th anniversary convention. However, aircraft ID captions need some work- Flight line above the hangar – Aircraft (no tag) between the F-4 and F-102 is an F-106 – Third aircraft from right is an F-106, not an F-102 Lower left – that is a YF–12A, not an SR–71 — on the lower right the aircraft is a B-26K, not an A-37 — the X-15 is a full-scale mockup — The non-captioned rocket is a Thor Able.

The North American XB-70 Valkyrie air vehicle 2 (AV/2) was the star performer at U.S. Air Force (USAF) biggest airshow in years, making not only its first public appearance, but also its first landing away from home base of Edwards AFB, Calif. The 275-ton giant flew from Edwards to Carswell AFB, in fifty-five minutes, piloted by North American’s Al White and USAF Lt. Col. Fitzhugh Fulton. More than 350,00 people saw the 275-ton giant during three-day static display. Carswell AFB was to be the only airfield that AV/2 would fly to and return before being destroyed following an accidental mid-air collision on Jun. 8, 1966. With North American’s Al White and USAF Lt. Col. Fitzhugh Fulton at the controls, the Valkyrie spent only 13 minutes at Mach 2.6 before slowing up, winding up at 6,000 feet over Carswell AFB just 59 minutes after takeoff! For the next half hour, AV/2 thundered around the skies of Texas before landing. The return flight two days later was the only flight during the entire program where performance data was not recorded, as Cotton (in the pilot’s seat) and White flew back at subsonic speeds, taking a little over three hours to return to Edwards.

Here’s the same photo without aircraft labels.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

View Comments

  • I’ll believe you’ll find that the “A-37” labeled in the picture is, in fact, a Douglas B-26K/A-26A - an On Mark modified A-26 with tip tanks, uprated engines, and flat-tipped props.

  • Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the paragraph in this article which states that Carswell AFB: "...had the honor of being the only public airshow in XB-70 Valkyrie history." In actual fact there was at least one other air show/open house, possibly two, which featured the XB-70. That was at Edward's AFB California, on May 22, 1966 (and perhaps one day before or after). This is documented in

    "Edward's Air Force Base, Open House at the USAF Flight Test Center 1957-1966" by Robert Archer.

    Also, I was there. I don't remember much about it because I was very young - 5 years old - but the book shows pics of the XB-70 doing flight demo. I don't know whether it was on static display accessible to the public.

    NOTE: the book also lists the XB-70 as one of the aircraft shown in 1965. But I don't think I was demo'd at the 1965 Edward's open house.

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