January 17th, 1975 a lone F-15A was stripped of its paint, speed brake and flap actuators, radar and fire control systems, unneeded cockpit instrumentation, generators, redundant radios and anything that could be left on the ground. Engineers even removed her Vulcan 20 mm cannon, and all external pylons leaving a super clean, slick, light and powerful F-15A Eagle that had only one place to go…UP!
The goal was to steal the crown from the Soviets that held the record for reaching the highest altitudes from a stationary start on the runway. The MIG-25 “Foxbat,” held the three highest positions since 1973. Prior to the Foxbat, previous altitude records had been held by the USAF F-4 “Phantom” since 1962.
Streak Eagle had only one mission, and that was to smash the “time to climb” records held by the Soviet Foxbat.
Streak Eagle was held in place at the end of the runway while hooked up to a hold-back bar, as the pilot applied full afterburner, the explosive bolt detonated, suddenly freeing the Eagle to accelerate down the active. Rotating after only 400 feet of runway, Streak Eagle pulled into a 80 degree climb while accelerating through the speed of sound. Like a homesick angel with her low fuel levels, bare skin and minimal equipment, sporting a thrust to weight ratio of nearly 2:1, She sliced through the lower atmosphere like a hot knife through butter. At altitudes, the Streak Eagle even managed to beat the climb rate of the Apollo Saturn V Rocket!
After the initial climb, the pilot kept a sustained 2.5G pull coming back over the base inverted at 32,000 feet. Rolling out, the super slick jet, then accelerating to over two times the speed of sound and pulling 4Gs into a 60 degree climb.
Streak Eagle reached an altitude of 98,425 feet just 3 minutes, 27.8 seconds from brake release and “coasted” on the highest attempt reaching 103,000 feet in altitude. The pilot in the attempt to utilize every last bit of energy, kept Streak Eagle in its climb until airspeed bleed off to as little as 55 knots…only then pushing the stick forward and back towards the Earth. During the coast phase, her engines had to be shut down before overheating, or flaming out due to lack of air density. During the descent phase, engines were restarted to allow a powered approach back to base.
Streak Eagle broke eight time-to-climb world records between January 16th and 1st of February 1975, After proving that Eagles dare, she was delivered to the National Museum Of The United States Air Force where she still remains today.