“Lockheed NF 104A Aerospace Trainer” is a 1962 color film serving as a “progress report” on the aircraft. The Lockheed NF-104A was an American mixed power, high-performance, supersonic aerospace trainer that served as a low-cost astronaut training vehicle for the North American X-15 and projected Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar programs. An NF 104A Starfighter is shown landing at mark 00:33 as the narrator explains how that aircraft was reconfigured and resigned into an aerospace trainer. We see images from wind tunnel tests starting at mark 01:33 with speeds up to Mach 2.4. At Edwards Air Force, test pilots are shown discussing the aircraft beginning at mark 02:10 in preparation for eventual flights of the aerospace trainer. The film continues with the narrator providing detailed, additional facts regarding external and internal modifications of the aircraft. The trainer is shown undergoing a multi-phase inspection of the cockpit starting at mark 06:37, as well as tests of the rocket engines (mark 07:42).
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter was a single-engine, supersonic interceptor aircraft originally developed by Lockheed for the United States Air Force (USAF). One of the Century Series of fighter aircraft, it was operated by the air forces of more than a dozen nations from 1958 to 2004. Its design team was led by Kelly Johnson, who went on to lead or contribute to the development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and other Lockheed aircraft.
Three aircraft were modified from existing Lockheed F-104A airframes, and served with the Aerospace Research Pilots School between 1963 and 1971, the modifications included a small supplementary rocket engine and a reaction control system for flight in the upper atmosphere. During the test program, the maximum altitude reached was more than 120,000 feet (36,600 m). One of the aircraft was destroyed in an accident while being flown by Chuck Yeager. The accident was depicted in the book The Right Stuff and the film of the same name.
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