XB-70 Valkyrie Mid-air Collision
YouTube / murphytime
Photoshoot Turned Disaster
North American Aviation’s XB-70 Valkyrie was a six-engined, supersonic strategic bomber designed in the late 1950s. The US Air Force was adamant that it would be practically immune to interceptors at such fast speeds.
After the program’s cancellation, development was turned over to a research program in 1964.
One of its prototypes crashed after it collided with an F-104 during a photoshoot on June 8, 1966. The F-104 drifted into the XB-70’s right wingtip, flipped and rolled inverted, and struck the bomber’s vertical stabilizers and left wing. The F-104 exploded after the impact, while the Valkyrie flew for 16 more seconds before it entered an uncontrollable spin and crashed in California.
NASA Chief Test Pilot Joe Walker (F-104 pilot) and Carl Cross (XB-70’s co-pilot) died on impact. Al White, the XB-70’s pilot, was able to eject but sustained severe injuries.
Investigations later pointed to the wake vortex from the XB-70’s wingtip as the reason for the F-104’s sudden roll into the bomber.