Celebrating 50 years of the Mighty Mighty this month. Today a closer look on the fifth prototype built. F-15A 71-0284. 0284 made its first flight on 7 March 1973, and was used as the trials aircraft for armament development. It was the first Eagle with the internal M61 cannon fitted. It was also used for external fuel tank jettison testing. Used by the combined McDonnell Douglas/USAF F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards between 1973 and nov75 (noted with code ‘5’ on latter date). Early in 1974 the Air Force initiated Operation ‘Streak Eagle’, the time to climb record. One aircraft would have had to be modified, and the choice was between 71-0284 and 72-0119. The latter was chosen and 71-0284 continued its testing career.
71-0284 was retired and re designated a GF-15A; it became an instructional aircraft at the Sheppard TTC by April 1977. Remained in use until October 1991 at least; and although it arrived in its former test colors, it later was repainted in grey camo and carried an ‘HO’ code on one side of the aircraft and ‘FF’ on the other. Last noted as instructional aircraft in October 1990, it was noted with the name ‘City of Iowa Park’ during much of this instructional period. 71-0284 was noted on the dump at Sheppard in July 1992, but ended up as an instructional airframe at Goodfellow AFB (TX). First noted there in April 1995, last in May 2008, the aircraft carried the ‘GD’ tail code during this entire period.