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« Swanky Convair B-58 Derivative SST - Circa 1960 | Main | Video: Sukhoi Cobra Carrier Approach - Advanced Maneuver! »
Thursday
Apr012010

CoolPix - Modern Military: B-58 Altitude Record of 85,360 Feet... In 1962!

(click pic for hi-res)

 You might be thinking this is just some old black and white photo of a guy wearing an odd looking helmet and flashing a cheesy 'ok' sign.  If that's what you're thinking, you are way wrong!  This is a very cool CoolPix indeed, and another in the recent string of B-58 hi-res photos during this special 'B-58 Week' here at AirPigz.com.

 I highly recommend you click the pic to get to the big version of it, and then take some time to soak up lots of small details as you look at Fitzhugh 'Fitz' Fulton sitting in the somewhat unusual cockpit of a Convair B-58 Hustler.  I find it fascinating that there are so many fabulous hi-res photos readily available from the U.S. Military and NASA during the 50's, 60's and 70's.  These photos do a great job of pulling us in a lot closer to see the people and the machines that were exploring the extreme world of flight and space exploration.

 This is one very special image for several reasons.

 For one, it's Fitz Fulton sitting in the cockpit.  Fitz spent 23 years in the USAF as a test pilot, and then worked from 1966 until 1986 as a NASA research pilot, followed by work as a test pilot at Scaled Composites until 1999!  During all those years, Fitz flew airplanes like the B-29 used to drop the X-1, the B-52 that dropped the X-15, the XB-70 at speeds up to Mach 3, the YF-12A as a project pilot, the 747 that dropped the Space Shuttle in the early glide tests, and as he is shown here, he was a project pilot on the B-58.  On September 8, 1962, Fitz set an altitude record with a 5,000kg payload (11,023 pounds) by flying a B-58 up to 85,360 feet!  And it appears that this record still stands today!  Fitz is an amazing man with an unbelievable amount of aviation experience, and this pic shows him sitting in an astounding aircraft.

 Given the video and podcast I posted recently that look at the U-2 flying at 70,000 feet, it pretty much boggles the mind to think that a B-58 carried such a heavy payload to over 85,000 feet way back in 1962.  The Hustler was expensive and somewhat difficult to fly, but you can't argue with the extreme capabilities that it exhibited so far back in time.

 I hope you take a few minutes to look closely at this picture and begin to feel just how big of an accomplishment the airplane was, and what a stunning time it was in the aerospace industry in the late 50' and 60's.

 

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