F-15D Support Aircraft

 NASA Dryden Flight Research Center currently flies F-15D Eagle aircraft for research support and pilot proficiency. The F-15Ds have a two-seat cockpit and like the 2 seat Support Aircraft F-18, they are normally used for photo or video support. They will be transmitting live video from the air back to Armstrong so engineers can visually monitor the mission as it is being flown. This feature greatly enhances flight safety.

NASA research support aircraft are commonly called chase planes and fill the role of escort aircraft during research missions. Chase pilots are in constant radio contact with research pilots and serve as an “extra set of eyes” to help maintain total flight safety during specific tests and maneuvers. They monitor certain events for the research pilot and are an important safety feature on all research missions.

Chase aircraft also are used as camera platforms for research missions that must be photographed or videotaped. Aeronautical engineers use this pictorial coverage (photos, motion pictures, and videotape) extensively to monitor and verify various aspects of research projects. The F-15Ds are also used by Armstrong research pilots for routine flight training required by all NASA pilots.

NASA photographer Jim Ross, flying with research pilot Nils Larson in F-15D #884, took this photograph of F-15D #897 with Troy Asher on his qualifying flight.
A trio of F-15D Eagles flew over Edwards Air Force Base upon their arrival from Tyndall Air Force Base on Sept. 21, 2010.
Three F-15D Eagles followed by a NASA F/A-18 taxied toward NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center following their arrival at Edwards Air Force Base on Sept. 21, 2010.
F-15D Eagle Follows OLYMPEX Science Mission
The first of three F-15D Eagles that were transferred from the U.S. Air Force to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center peeled off formation to enter the landing pattern over Edwards Air Force Base.
Left to right: “2nd to None” (F-15D #897), “Mr. Bones” (F-15D #884), and workhorse F-15B #836 on the back ramp at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center.
NASA / Jim Ross
Armstrong Flight Research Center’s F-15D #897 is seen here freshly painted and sporting the new AFRC decal. NASA research pilot Troy Asher flew this qualifying flight to get acquainted with the aircraft; Jim Less flew as a backseater.
The first of three F-15D Eagles that were transferred from the U.S. Air Force to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center arrive at Edwards Air Force Base.