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Mercury Astronauts
Mercury Astronauts
Trained at NASA Langley Research Center. They are standing here in front of F-106B 58-0158 on 20 Jan 1961 [Date on photo is in error, read below...]. While familiarizing the astronauts with the Mercury set-up, Langley employees helped them to specialize in the technical areas crucial to the overall success of Project Mercury. Langley people also guided and monitored the astronauts activities through the many spaceflight simulators and other training devices built at the Center expressly for the manned space program.

Photo Date Discrepency
On 16 April 2002 Charlie Gindhart emailed me pointing out the 1971 date had to be wrong. 58-0158 was not at Langley then, Gus Grissom was killed 27 January 1967, Glenn, Schirra, Cooper and Carpenter had already left NASA and Buzz Numbers were not used in 1971. So, Charlie sent an e-mail to the NASA Langley Research Center to inquire.

Alicia V. Tarrant, NASA JSC
Writes about the photo date error My JSC contact has indeed confirmed that S61-01250 (aka L71-2971 and EL-1996-00090) was photographed on 01/20/61. It was originally photographed here at Langley by JSC people and the photo was taken back to Houston. We received a copy negative from them in 1971 of this photo and I guess that is where the 1971 date came from. My thanks to Mr. Gindhart for finding the error so that I can correct it. I will be editing STILAS and LISAR soon. The new caption will read with the corrected date 'Photographed on 01/21/1961 at Langley Air Force Base'. Thanks, Alicia V. Tarrant, NASA JSC"

This Day In Aviation History


F-106 TDYs

Here are a few:

  • Amalgam Chief, Elmendorf AFB, AK
  • Checkered Flag, Tyndall AFB, FL
  • Cold Shoes,
  • College Dart, , Air Superiority Tactices Training, Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) as Aggressors
  • College Shaft, Bear Intercept Missions, Iceland
  • Combat Archer, Tyndall AFB, FL
  • Combat Pike, Tyndall AFB, FL (Weapons-Firing Exercise)
  • Copper Flag, Tyndall AFB, FL
  • Desert Dart, Yuma AZ, Yuma Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS)
  • Federal Virgo, Key West Naval Air Station (NAS), FL
  • Giant Voice, Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Green Flag, Burlington, VT
  • Maple Flag, Cold Lake, Canada
  • Miramar Naval Air Station, ‎San Diego, CA
  • NATO Exercise, Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada
  • Northern Edge, AK
  • Operation Combat 'Red' Fox, Osan AB, ROK
  • Operation White Shoes, Elmendorf AFB, AK
  • Red Flag, Nellis AFB, NV
  • Sea Strike 1979, Davis Monthan AFB, Az
  • Top Gun, Miramar Naval Air Station (NAS), CA
  • Operation Sky Shield 1962
  • William Tell Weapons Meet, Tyndal AFB, FL. Air Intercept Missile Evaluation (Aimval) test was established.


The first F-106A (56-0451)
was finally available by the end of 1956. The first flight was made by Convair test pilot Richard L. Johnson at Edwards AFB on December 26, 1956. He was the same pilot who had made the maiden flight of the F-102. The flight was not entirely glitch-free as it had to be aborted early due to air turbine motor frequency fluctuations, and the speed brakes opened but would not close. Consequently, the aircraft did not go supersonic on its first flight. The second aircraft (56-0452) followed on 26 February 1957. They were both powered by the YJ75-P-1 engine.

F-106A: Serial number 56-0451
The first F-102B/F-106 (YF-106A) produced by Convair at San Diego CA, on 14 Dec 1956 was trucked from Convair to AFFTC Edwards AFB CA. On 22 Dec 1956 it began Taxi tests. On 26 Dec 1956 it made its first flight, which included an air abort due to air turbine motor frequency fluctuations and speed boards that opened and wouldn't close. This first take-off was performed without afterburner, which was comperable to an F-102 Delta Dagger take-off 'with' afterburner. The 20 minute flight took the aircraft to an altitude of 30,000 miles and 0.8 Mach.

F-106B: Serial number 57-2507
Was the first F-106B produced by Convair, which was also trucked from Convair to AFFTC Edwards AFB CA. Taxi test runs were completed on 8 April 1958. The first B model flight was made on 10 April 1958 piloted by pilot Fitzpatrick. The first flight lasted for 50 minutes, almost twice as long as the F-106A first flight. The aircraft also reached higher altitudes and obtained faster supersonic speeds than is normal for a first flight. Your author here can only imagine that was due largely but the fact the F-106A was already a tried and true model, which the 'B' models were so much like.


F-106 on eBay


F-106 Overview
The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was a supersonic, all-weather delta wing interceptor aircraft of the United States Air Force from the 1960s through 1988. Referred to as the "Ultimate Interceptor" it was the last dedicated interceptor in USAF to date. Originally envisioned as an advanced derivative of the F-102A Delta Dagger and given the designation F-102B, the "Ultimate Interceptor", as it was known, entailed such extensive changes that in June, 1956, the designation was changed to F-106. It was designed from the ground up as an Interceptor and nothing but an interceptor. Originally designated the F-102B, it was re-designated the F-106 due to it's extensive structural changes and the more powerful Pratt & Whitney J75 engine. The single seat F-106A first flew on December 26, 1956, was delivered to and entered operational service with the US Air Force (USAF) in May 1959 and achieved initial operational capability in October, 1959. The two-seat F-106B made its maiden flight on April 9, 1958, achieved initial operational capability in July 1960, and retained the full combat capability of the F-106A. All F-106 production ended in late 1960 with a total of 277 F-106A's and 63 F-106B's being built at a cost of about $5 million each.

The F-106 Delta Dart was manufactured by the Convair Division of General Dynamics. It's design, and that of its predecessor the F-102A, is closely linked to Langley and the development of "area ruling" (Area Rule) in the early 1950's. Area Rule reduces drag at transonic speeds and is reflected in the "coke bottle" or "wasp waist" shaped fuselage of the F-106. Area ruling enabled the YF-102A to easily exceed the speed of sound and subsequently led to the go-ahead for the advanced version which became the F-106. The significance of area ruling was recognized by the National Aeronautic Association which awarded the originator, Richard T. Whitcomb, its prestigious Collier Trophy for the greatest achievement in aeronautics in 1955. It was powered by a single Pratt and Whitney J75-P-17 turbojet engine of 16,100 LB thrust (24,500 LB thrust with afterburning).

Developed as an interceptor, its mission was to shoot down other aircraft, bombers in particular. It used a Hughes MA-1 electronic guidance and fire control system. As quoted to me in an e-mail by Dick Stultz, LtCol, USAF (Ret) who was an F-106 Pilot and who "Fired simulated AIR2A in William Tell Competition without Operational MA-1", "The MA-1 NEVER had full control of the aircraft, a capability so many publications erroneously extol. The MA-1, using its data link target information or command information, would provide directives for altitude, airspeed, xyz coordinates and command directions, which would be flown by the autopilot, however, the MA-1 NEVER regulated the throttle at any time, for forward and aft movement, thus the MA-1 could never really fully control the airplane except to provide requested directions that required coupling and thrust selection by the pilot. The pilot HAD to take it off, climb, descend, and land the aircraft, every time!" The F-106 proved its ultimate performance capabilities in providing aggressor "enemy" delta-wing familiarization training to the Navy's best pilots during the time they were implementing TOP GUN. The Navy jocks learned valuable lessons that the Delta winged 106 was almost unconquerable in the dogfight arena, with guns in the air-to-air environment, which you read so little about in the Navy publications. Wing loading of 43 lbs/sq ft and a .8 -1 TWT put it in a class of its own against the A4s, F-104s, F4B,C,D, F-105, F-100, F8 fighters of its time.....not to mention the many many '14s and '15s that blew engines in attempting to fight when it took them above 40,000 feet, to a guns-only environment. Good thing they finally fixed those great fighters to handle the altitudes the 106s formerly ruled.

The F-106 also came in a 2 seat "B". Unlike other popular 2 seat aircraft, such as the F-4, the back seater in the "SIX" had the exact same control capability as the front seater. He could fly the aircraft and perform all operations from his rear seat. The F-106B also could carry the same armament.

On December 15, 1959, Colonel Joe Rogers piloted an F-106A to a World Speed Record of 1,525.695 mph (Mach 2.41). The F-106 still holds the record as the fastest single-engine turbojet-powered airplane.

The F-106 served with the USAF Air Defense Command (ADC), Tactical Air Command (TAC), and Air National Guard (ANG). The Air Force gradually retired the aircraft from active service after a long and distinguished career during the 1980s, last unit in 1988. The post Delta Dart period saw them used as drone targets during air-to-air missile training for our current generation of fighter aircraftThe with the QF-106 drone conversions being used until 1998 under the Pacer Six Program. The Six also saw continued use with many NASA projects. While there are no flyable F-106's remaining, all survivors have been de-milled with most survivors on static display in museums and parks.


The Century Series fighters are a group of 6 US production fighter jets that were numbered F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105 and F-106. Although these were considered "2nd Generation" fighters, sharing common technology, the basis for this club was actually the "hundreds" numbering. With that said, the 2nd generation was not limited to just the Century Series aircraft.

The 2nd Generation generally spans an era from the mid-1950's to the mid-1960's that military fighter jets made a leap in technical advancements including engine design, aerodynamics, metallurgy, electronics and weapons systems. Although there is not a specific outline, 2nd generation aircraft generally could maintain speeds over Mach 1 in level flight. Swept wings became the norm and delta wings came into play with their Area Rule 'coke bottle' shaped fuselages reducing drag. Traditional guns became uncommon and were replaced by air-to-air missiles, some with nuclear tips.