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.