Saturday, January 24, 2015

Retro Saturday: The Versatile T-38


Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: PeriscopeFilm YouTube channel.

Ever since the early 1960s, NASA astronauts have flown Northrop T-38 Talons to maintain their flight proficiency and travel from one assignment to another.

This week's Retro Saturday is a circa 1962 nine-minute Northrop Corporation documentary on the T-38. It focuses largely on U.S. Air Force use, but does mention it's also used by NASA.

This 2011 NASA article discusses the T-38's use as a trainer and a Shuttle chase plane.

Four 1960s-era NASA astronauts died in T-38 accidents.

In October 1964, Theodore Freeman was killed upon approach to Ellington AFB in Houston when a bird strike disabled a port-side engine.

In February 1966, Elliot See and Charles Bassett died when they crashed into the McDonnell Aircraft building in St. Louis where their Gemini 9 capsule was being assembled.

In October 1967, Clifton Williams crashed near Tallahassee, Florida due to a mechanical failure. He'd departed Patrick AFB in Cocoa Beach an hour earlier. He'd been projected as the Lunar Module pilot with Pete Conrad on what would eventually become the Apollo 12 mission.

More on the T-38 at the Northrop Grumman T-38 Talon web page.


This September 2007 image shows two NASA T-38s flying in formation at the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB. Image source: NASA.

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