Prototype F-15 71-0284

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.



written by Patrick “Red” van Dam

Mission Ready is a visual narrative about a world that’s not accessible to most of us. Until now. Documentary photographer and creative director Patrick van Dam gives us a realistic and uncensored insight into the “Best Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force”. Through compelling images, he offers an insider perspective of the legendary 493rd Fighter Squadron’s daily operations. This is not Top Gun. This is better. This is real.

From 2016 to 2021, Van Dam was granted access to several restricted military airbases and experienced first-hand what it takes to be a fighter pilot during a training mission in an F-15 Eagle. His contemporary photography is never shy of demystifying a sometimes romanticized world, yet always with an aesthetic point of view.


F-15A 71-0282

Celebrating 50 years of the Mighty Mighty this month. Today a closer look on the third prototype built. McDonnell Douglas F-15A 71-0282 made its first flight on 4 November 1972 and was the test aircraft for the Eagle’s APG-63 radar and avionics. 0282 was also used for air speed trials. Used by the combined McDD/USAF F-15 Joint Test Force at Edwards AFB between July 1973 and November 1977 (coded ‘3’ in July 1973). 71-0282 was also used by the AFFSL (Air Force Flight Systems Laboratory) for a short time between August and December 1977. The AFFSL adorned the aircraft with a sharkmouth

on 16 December 1977. The aircraft departed storage again on 14 August 1979 and was transferred to the 2955th CLSS at Robins AFB. It was noted in a WFU condition (possibly used for some kind of instructional purpose) at Robins AFB (GA) in January 1986, and was reportedly preserved at Robins at a later date, but it has not been seen since 1986.

Have a look at the other Eagle histories at


493rd Fighter Squadron deploys to Lask AB, Poland


WARSAW, Feb 10 (Reuters) – American F-15 jets landed at a Polish air base on Thursday, Warsaw’s defence minister said, as NATO beefs up the military presence on its eastern flank amid tensions over a standoff between Ukraine and Russia.

The jets arrived as further U.S. and British troops were deployed in Poland, with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also visiting the country in a show of solidarity.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

“Today, American F15 fighters have arrived at the air base in Lask, they will support the eastern flank as part of the NATO Air Policing mission,” Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter.

(U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

The defence minister did not say how many F-15s landed at the base. American F-15 jets have also been sent to the Baltics.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday that London may send further troops to help support its allies in eastern Europe if required, after announcing the deployment of 350 troops to Poland on Monday.

U. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

Wingman at War

First account of the youngest Eagle Driver during Operation Desert Storm

I am a huge fan of first-hand authored flying stories and autobiographies. I have read nearly every and any USAF and USN book you can find about the Vietnam Air War, Gulf War, Allied Force, etc. from Ed Razimus, Jack Broughton, Willy Driscoll to Dan Hampton and was really looking forward to start reading Wingman at War, but this time it was different. I personally witnessed everything from an outside perspective during Operation Desert Storm as a 15-year-old kid at the time, following everything I could about the F-15 Eagles during the air campaign of Operation Desert Storm.  This incredible account took me right back to those amazing memories.

I couldn’t stop reading this incredible personal journal and read over 40% of the book in the first go. Simply put, it is the best air combat memoir I have ever read. It provides an incredible look into Combat Operations during Desert Storm through the eyes of a young fighter pilot. While reading Wingman at War I felt as if I was there, at Incirlik AB on the flightline watching Eagles launching and recovering. Boz’s thrilling portrayals of combat missions and life in a combat squadron kept me glued to the story.

The way it is written is extremely personal, virtually reliving the events Boz went through, and as much as possible for a civilian, experiencing the feelings he had in the moment. Through his book I discovered a lot of information and knowledge I never knew, even as a military aviation aficionado.

You can find it at Amazon click on this link Wingman at War