The 1st F-15 Eagle (71-0281)

As we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first flight this month, and the start of the Eagle test program. I would like to highlight some of the prototypes who laid the foundation of 50 years air supremacy. Today 71-0280, this was the first prototype of the F-15 Eagle. It was rolled out at McDonnell Douglas’s factory in St Louis during a ceremony on June 26 1972. Following the aircraft’s roll-out, it was dismantled, loaded aboard a C-5 and fl own to Edwards AFB on July 11th 1972.

On July 27th 1972 Irv Burrows made the first test flight of the F-15. The flight lasted for 50-minutes

71-0280 would become the trials aircraft for flight envelope exploration, general handling and external stores carriage tests. Although it had been rolled out in a grey color scheme, for the first flight the aircraft had received day-glo tail and wing markings. Within a week, the aircraft had reached Mach 1.5 and 45,000 ft! It was used by the combined McDonnell Douglas/USAF F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards AFB between July 1972 and November 1975,

Following its testing career, 71-0280 was retired and used by the Air Force Orientation Group at Gentile AFS (OH) between 1979 and June 1991. It was later preserved at the History and Traditions Museum. 71-280 was repainted and remarked as ’85-114/EG’ ( Cesar “Rico” Rodriguez’s MiG Killer from Desert Storm) were it is still on display.


F-15 71-0281

Celebrating 50 years of the Mighty Mighty this month. Today a closer look to the second prototype built. McDonnell Douglas F-15A-1-MC –. Better know as 71-0281, made its first flight onSeptember 26th 1972 and was the F100 engine test aircraft. Like the other prototypes, 71-0281 was used by the F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards AFB, The aircraft was officially transferred to NASA on 17 December 1975. It retained its USAF tail number throughout its time with NASA. Not much glory for this Eagle but a silent work horse within the Eagle flight test program providing valuable flight data.

71-0281 was also used to test thermal protection tiles for the Space Shuttle. 0281 was returned to the USAF in 1983 shortly after which she was retired and put on display at Langley AFB unit present day.

Have a look at the other Eagle histories at