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A close call for the XB-70 at Edwards AFB

The North American Aviation XB-70 Valkyrie was a Mach 3, high-altitude strategic bomber designed in the late 1950s, with the maiden flight on September 21, 1964. Meanwhile, the Russians had developed their high-altitude surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), which made the XB-70 vulnerable. NASA and the Air Force used the two prototype XB-70s for high-speed flight tests and research into sonic booms.

Paratroopers of the 1950s: in the trees, at night

After my chute stabilized, I reached up and grabbed my main canopy risers, tilted my head back and checked my canopy. In the pale moonlight I could see the drop zone (DZ) to my right. I immediately realized that the wind was moving me away from the DZ, and slipping was not going to get me there. The US Air Force had missed the drop zone completely and had dropped three plane loads of 82nd Airborne paratroopers, including me, in the trees—at night!

Near miss with a BUFF

We were proceeding northbound at 2900 feet, and the Gulf of Mexico was off our right wing, and Highway 77 was off our left wing. Jean and I were all bundled up because N7405B didn’t have a heater. I was concentrating ahead, when my peripheral vision caught something to the left and crossing below us. I looked to the right and below. I shouted to Jean, “Look at that!” and pointed down and to the right.