The F-15 Streak Eagle
In setting the last of the eight records, it reached an altitude of 98,425 feet just 3 minutes, 27.8 seconds from brake release at takeoff and “coasted” to nearly 103,000 feet before descending.
It was flown in its natural metal finish to reduce weight for the record-setting flights.
The “Streak Eagle” is an early preproduction aircraft. Differences in internal structure and systems operation made it too costly to return to operational service.
It was donated to the museum in December 1980 after it was no longer useful as a flight test vehicle.
To protect it from corrosion, McDonnell Douglas painted it in the gray color scheme of most operational F-15s.
The F-15 Eagle
McDonnell Aircraft formalized the concept for the F-15 in 1967 when the company was selected to enter the second phase of the US Air Force’s FX competition. Competing against Fairchild Hiller and North American Rockwell, McDonnell used lessons learned during the Vietnam War on the changing nature of jet age air-to-air combat, given that the F-4 Phantom II was earning its reputation as a formidable fighter.
On Dec. 23, 1969, after more than two years of intensive testing and evaluation, the Air Force awarded McDonnell Douglas the F-15 Advanced Tactical Fighter contract. The McDonnell Douglas team had placed first among the three competitors in all phases of the competition and had the lowest contract price.
The first US fighter to have engine thrust greater than the normal weight of the aircraft
The Eagle first flew in July 1972 and entered USAF inventory in November 1974. It was the first US fighter to have engine thrust greater than the normal weight of the aircraft, allowing it to accelerate while in a vertical climb.
This, combined with low aircraft weight to wing area, makes the Eagle very highly maneuverable. The Eagle was produced in both single-seat and two-seat versions.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force