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Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd | all galleries >> Oldie-Goldie Galleries of Slide and Print Aviation Stock Photos (National, Braniff, Eastern, Pan Am, military, USCG, etc.) >> Prints and slides Gallery of U. S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft stock photos > USAF North American XB-70A #62-0001 Valkyrie military aviation photo
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USAF North American XB-70A #62-0001 Valkyrie military aviation photo
Mid 1960's North American Aircraft

USAF North American XB-70A #62-0001 Valkyrie military aviation photo

The XB-70 is my favorite Air Force aircraft of all time. This image was scanned from an 8x10" black and white photo that was sent in the mid-60's to my buddy Eric D. Olson when he wrote to North American requesting photos of their aircraft.

This was the first XB-70 produced (also known as AV/1 Air Vehicle/1 or Ship 1) and it was rolled out of its hangar at North American's Palmdale, California facility and into the public's view on a bright and sunny May 11th, 1964. The audience was awed by the Valkyrie because of her graceful long neck and air intakes 80 feet long, longer than the length of a SR-71. Unfortunately, the XB-70 program's budget was slashed severely just two months later. Ship 1's initial flight was on September 21, 1965. She reached Mach 3 inflight on October 14, 1965, but suffered some left wing leading edge damage and was limited to Mach 2.7 thereafter.

Ship #2 (#62-0207), with many improvements over Ship #1, made its initial flight on July 17, 1965, and subsequently made numerous flights at sustained Mach 3. It was destroyed by a mid-air collision with a F-104 Starfighter after a photo shoot for General Electric on June 8th, 1966. Joe Walker, a famed X-15 pilot, died when his F-104 got sucked into the XB-70's vertical stabilizers and across the top of the wing. Air Force Major Carl Cross, serving as co-pilot, was killed when the XB-70 crashed north of Barstow, California. Al White, the pilot, was able to eject in the escape pod but the pod's airbag failed to inflate and White endured a 44g impact, lowered to 33g's as his chair broke free of its mountings.

After a few more flights of the remaining Ship 1, the Air Force bowed out of the program leaving NASA to carry on additional research flights on its own. Ship 1 made 33 additional research flights, providing valuable data about high speed flight and conventional landing approaches for a large delta wing aircraft.

Ship #1 made her 82nd and final flight to the Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio on February 4, 1969. She is on public display and still wows the museum's guests.

XB-70 specifications
Span: 105 ft., Length: 185 ft. 10 in. without boom; 192 ft. 2 in. with boom
Height: 30 ft. 9 in., Weight: 534,700 lbs. loaded
Armament: None Engines: Six General Electric YJ-93s of 30,000 lbs. thrust each with afterburner.

Maximum speed 2,056mph (Mach 3.1) at 73,000 ft., cruise speed: 2,000mph (Mach 3.0) at 72,000 ft., range: 4,288 miles, service ceiling: 77,350 ft.

Steven Levin has a great website about the XB-70 Valkyries at

The Air Force Museum website about the XB-70 is at

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Sunbird Photos by Don Boyd29-Dec-2008 06:01
I agree, guest, the XB-70 was the most beautiful aircraft of all time.

Guest 21-Nov-2008 20:50
The most beautiful plane of all time, and possibly the most beautiful machine of all time.

chip 26-Feb-2008 06:39
Your XB-70-A is second only to the SR-71, THE best plane ever built! Only problem was being defunded by Bill Clinton. I have no stats to compare.