F-104 records

This page gives an overview on all the specific records flown by the F-104 Starfighter. It not only shows the current world record it still owns. It was the first aircraft to simultaneously hold the world speed and altitude records, back in the late 50s.

 

7 May 1958 - YF-104A - 55-2957 (83FiS) - Major Howard C. "Scrappy" Johnson (USAF) - Height Record of 27,811m (91,243 ft)

This was the first record flown by an F-104 Starfighter. It was an official world altitude record of 27,813 meters (91,246 ft) in a zoom climb which was broken by Major Howard C. Johnson, 83rd FIS, in YF-104A "FG-957", serial number 55-2957 at Edwards AFB, Palmdale, CA (USA) Photos beneath show Johnson while preparing before his record flight, and after the record flight being congratulated by collegue pilots Walt W. Irwin and James Low. See also article at Warbird News.

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16 May 1958 - YF-104A - 55-2969 (83FiS) - Capt. Walt Wayne Irwin - Various records - awarded with Collier Trophy.

Flown from Edwards AFB, Capt. Walt Irwin managed to reach Speed vs Altitude records from start, with his unprepared standard YF-104A aircraft with nickname "Speedy". He reached: 3.000 m from start in 41.8 seconds 25.000 m from start in 4 minutes and 26.03 seconds. 2,259.538 kilometers per hour (1,404.012 miles per hour) over a 15 km/25 km course at Edwards Air Force Base, being an official Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record.

Note: This was the first time, from this day, that one aircraft (YF-104A) holds at the same time the world altitude record of 27,813 meters (91,246 ft) and the world speed record of 2.259 km/h (1.404 mph).

Photos beneath show aircraft 55-2969 taking off from Edwards on May 16th to set on of the new records. Second photo shows Walt Irwin checking his flight records together with Lockheed flight engineer Walt Robbins after the speed record of 1404 miles per hour. Third a photo showing Walt on an official photo celebrating his record on the same day on a special press event. Final photo shows the aircraft 969 taxying out on this day of the records.

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10 December 1958 - unknown F-104A (83 FiS) - Capt. M Schaff and Capt. Bruce Jones (USAF) - Time to Intercept record in time and speed.

On this day a time-to-intercept record was flown by both Capt. Maurice Schaff Jr. and Capt Bruce Jones (both 83FiS), using a target at 10.669 meter altitude, on a distance from base at 227 km. Intercepted : 8 Min, 59.9 seconds. Average speed : 1850 kmh. The photo beneath shows Capt Bruce Jones departing his F-104A very likely after performing his record flight. The pilot welcoming him is Capt James Low.

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13/14 December 1958 - F-104A - 56-762 -  Lt William T. Smith and Einar K. Envoldson (538th FiS) - Various time to climb records.

Alternately flown by Lt William T. Smith and Einar K. Envoldson, both flying with the 538th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Larson AFB, WA flew time to climb record flights over a two-day period from NAS Point Mugu, California. They reached: 3000 meter (9,800 ft) time-to-climb record in 41.85 seconds 6000 meter (20,000 ft) time-to-climb record in 58.41 seconds 9000 meter (30,000 ft) time-to-climb record in 81.14 seconds (1 minute 21 seconds) 12,000 meter (39,000 ft) time-to-climb record in 99.90 seconds (1 minute 39 seconds) 15,000 meter (49,000 ft) time-to-climb record in 131.1 seconds (2 minutes 11 seconds) 20,000 meter (66,000 ft) time-to-climb record in 222.99 seconds (3 minutes 42 seconds) 25,000 meter (82,020.8 feet) time-to-climb record in 266.03 seconds (4 minutes, 26.03 seconds), by Einar Envoldson. Photos beneath show the F-104A 56-762 at Point Mugu and also both pilots Envoldson and Smith shaking hands after the successfull record attempts. Note factory code "50" on the 104's nose.

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14 December 1959 - F-104C - 56-885 - Capt "Joe" B. Jordan - World Altitude Record of 31513 m  (103395.5 feet).

This day Capt. Jordan managed to reach an official world altitude record with his prepared F-104C aircraft after taking off from Edwards AFB. Joe managed to reach 31,513 m (103,389 ft), a new world altitude record. Joe also reached a time-to-climb record to 30,000 m (98,424 ft) from brake release in 15 min 4.92 sec. By this time it was the first aircraft taking off on its own power to reach the 30,000 m and 100,000 ft altitude. The aircraft had reduced weight and also special more pointing inlet cones (for better engine performance on high speed). Beneath a number of photos (USAF/Lockheed-Martin) showing Capt. Joe Jordan in his cockpit, the F-104C with its specific inlet cones, wishes of luck by Tony LeVier before the attempt, congratulations by Col. Royal Baker and finally a photo showing Joe Jordan beneath his record plane, signed by himself (thanks to Riccardo Vestuto). Note: Two interesting webpages about this record flight can be found here and here.

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A video about this recordmission can be found here:

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June 1962 - F-104C - 56-901 - Tom Delashaw - Flew non-official speed record of Mach 2.5 on 92.000ft.

Serving the 476th TFS within TAC 479th TFW, deployed at Hahn Air Force Base during the Berlin crisis period Tom flew a high altitude mission accomplishing a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 on an altitude of 92.000ft (around 28km). Beneath a photo showing Tom Delashaw before his record Starfighter in June 1962 at Hahn AFB.

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12 April 1963 - TF-104G - 5702/N104L - AFRES Col. Jacqueline Cochran - New female world aviation speed record (15/25km circuit)

Flying the TF-104G N104L demonstrator "Free World Defender" (cn 5702) Jacqueline "Jackie" Cochran (US Air Force Reserve Colonel) averaged 1.273,115 mph (2,048.88 km/h) over a 15-25 km (9.32/15.53 miles closed circuit) straight line course at Edwards Air Force Base, reaching Mach 1.94. With this she beat her own old record for this distance. It was listed as FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) Record File Number #13042. Lateron inside her autobiography she revealed this record as follows: “Picture in your mind a rectangular tunnel, 300 feet high, a quarter of a mile wide, and extending 20 miles long through the air at an altitude of 35,000 feet. I had to fly through that tunnel at top speed without touching a side. There were no walls to see but radar and ground instruments let me know my mistakes immediately. Up there at 35,000 feet the temperature would be about 45 degrees below zero. Not pleasant but perfect for what I was doing. Inside the plane you are hot because of the friction of speeding through the air like that. The cockpit was air-conditioned, but when you descend, things happen so fast the plane’s air-cooling system can’t keep up with it. I was always hot and perspiring back on the ground.” On the photo beneath "Jacky" in front of the two-seater company demonstrator N104L in which she set the record and a photo after she flew the record, she is congratulated by Chuck Yeager and an unknown person.

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1 May 1963 - TF-104G - 5702/N104L - AFRES Col. Jacqueline Cochran - New female world aviation speed record (100km circuit)

At Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline (“Jackie”) Cochran, Colonel, U.S. Air Force Reserve, established a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI)World Speed Record when she flew the two-place Lockheed TF-104G Starfighter, FAA registration N104L, named Free World Defender, over a 100-kilometer (62.137-mile) closed circuit at an average speed of 1,203.689 miles per hour (1,937.15 kilometers per hour). Lateron inside her autobiography she revealed this record as follows: “The 100 kilometer closed course was so damn difficult. Imagine an absolutely circular racetrack, about a quarter of a mile wide, on the ground with an inner fence exactly 63 miles long. Now, in your mind’s eye, leave the track and get into the air at 35,000 feet. Fly it without touching the fence in the slightest. It’s tricky because if you get too far away from the inner fence, trying not to touch, you won’t make the speed you need to make the record. And if you get too close, you’ll disqualify yourself. Eyes are glued to the instrument panel. Ears can hear the voice of the space-positioning officer. You are dealing in fractions of seconds. And your plane isn’t flying in flat position. It’s tipped over to an 80-degree bank to compensate for the circle. That imaginary inner fence may be to your left, but you don’t head your plane left. That’d lose altitude. Instead, you pull the nose up a bit and because the plane is so banked over, you move closer to the fence. You turn.”

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6 June 1963 - F-104G - "9028" (SABCA) - Bernard Neefs - Speed record Brussels-Paris - 260.6 km in 9 min 55sec / average 1576.4 kmh

As promotion by Lockheed this speed record demonstration was organised while the aircraft was used to represent Lockheed at the Paris Air Show (Le Bourget) in June 1963. It took Bernard Neefs (Chief Test pilot SABCA-Fairey) to fly the 260,6 km in 9 minutes 55 seconds, with an average speed of 979.55 mph or 1,576.435 km/h.  Lateron this aircraft was delivered to the Belgium Air Force becoming FX-11. Photo beneath shows the aircraft arriving at Paris thanks to Guy Viselé (left photo). Note the flags of all 104 using nations, added on both sides of the aircraft. The other two photos are part from the huge Int. F-104 Society collection showing the aircraft from the other side as well has the proud pilot Bernard Neefs. It was a FAI homologated record.

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15 November 1963 - NF-104A - 56-756 - (USAF/ADTC) - Maj. Robert W.Smith - Altitude record of 22.5 miles (118,860 feet).

Flying this NF-104A Starfighter, specially prepared for astronaut zoom flights using a rocket engine and longer and thrusted wings, pilot Major Robert W. Smith managed to reach and altitude of 22.5 miles (118,860 feet/36,230m) this day after take off from Edwards AFB. It was an unofficial world altitude record for aircraft taking off under their own power. The official record at that time was 113,800 feet, set by the Mikoyan/Gurevich Ye-66A, an experimental version of the MiG-21 Fishbed (Ye-66A : This was specifically built to break the world altitude record). Ye-66A 34,714 meter April 28, 1961. Beneath a photo showing NF-104A 56-756 taxying to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.

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6 December 1963 - NF-104A - 56-756 - (USAF/ADTC) - Maj. Robert W.Smith - Altitude record of 120,800 feet.

This day Major Robert W. Smith reached an altitude of 36.820 meter (120,800 feet) which became an unofficial record for altitude. The Air Force had not requested certification in advance so no FAI personnel were on site to certify the flight sadly. Robert Smith was later on nominated for the Octave Chanute Award “for an outstanding contribution made by a pilot or test personnel to the advancement of the art, science, and technology of aeronautics."  During this record flight Robert Smith reached a speed up to max Mach 2.5. Beneath (left) an official released photo taken during the rocket boost start by Robert Smith during this particular record flight. Also a photo showing an autographed photo signed by Smith (Thanks to Mike Clemente) and the proud pilot himself before a normal F-104.

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11 May 1964 - F-104G - 62-122222 - Lockheed -  AFRES Col. Jacqueline Cochran - New female world aviation speed record (15/25km circuit)

Operating from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline "Jacky" Cochran flew a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter to 1,429.297 miles per hour (2,300.23 kilometers per hour) over a straight 15 to 25 kilometer course. She was the first woman to fly faster than Mach 2 and set a new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Speed Record. Beneath a photo showing the record team at Edwards AFB. Who recognizes the persons on this photo? The other photo shows Jacky Cochran in her F-104G record Starfighter taxying for flying the record.

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1 June 1964 - F-104G - 62-122222 - Lockheed -  AFRES Col. Jacqueline Cochran - New female world aviation speed record (100km circuit)

Operating from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline "Jacky" Cochran flew a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter over a 100 kilometer (62.137 miles) closed circuit without payload, averaging 2,097.27 kilometers per hour (1,303.183 miles per hour). This new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) speed record broke the one set ten years earlier—2,038.70 kilometers per hour (1,266.789 miles per hour)—by Jackie Cochran’s friend and competitor, Jacqueline Auriol, who flew a Dassault Mirage IIIR delta-winged reconnaissance fighter. This was her second record in a row.

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3 June 1964 - F-104G - 62-122222 - Lockheed -  AFRES Col. Jacqueline Cochran - New female world aviation speed record (500km circuit)

Operating from Edwards Air Force Base, California, Jacqueline "Jacky" Cochran set a third Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) speed record with the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter. She flew without payload, over a 500 kilometer (310.686 miles) closed course, averaging 1,814.37 kilometers per hour (1,127.397 miles per hour). She broke her own existing record, set over the same course with an Orenda-powered Canadair Sabre Mk.3 back in 1953. See photo of her in the cockpit with 3 fingers up! (third record). Note:
Currently an Jackie Cochran exhibit can be found at the San Diego air and space museum in California (photo attached by Steve Alex)

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25 June 1964 - F-104G - D-8115 (323sq/KLu) - Capt. Wiebe Pot - Dutch altitude record of 62.000 ft

Flying from Leeuwarden AFB Capt. Wiebe Pot made the first official Dutch Air Force zoomflight with a special zoom-flying suit and helmet. He reached 62.000 ft which was an unofficial new Dutch Altitude record which apparently still exists today. Beneath a photo showing the F-104G D-8115 taken around the time Capt. Wiebe Pot set the record in this aircraft. (Thanks to Gerrit Hiemstra)

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10 August 1964 - F-104G - 61-2631  (FN-H) - Capt. Olaf Aspen - (331sq/RNorAF) - Greatest vertical loop of 37.500 ft.

This day Capt. Olaf Aspen, flying the F-104G FN-H (61-2631) with 331 squadron at Bodo AFB, performed a new greatest vertical loop world record, officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
Maintaining a steady speed of Mach 0.85 throughout the looping, starting at 1000 feet above sea level, the top of the loop was reached at 38.500 feet, making a diameter of 37.500 feet. As far as known this record is still valid today.

Beneath photos showing aircraft 631 coded FN-H (thanks to Erik Dahlen), Capt Olaf Aspen preparing another flight at Bodo (Olaf Aspen archive) and finally a scan of the Guinness Book of Records certification paper.

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3 November 1966 - F-104J - 76-8699 (??) - unknown pilot - Tokyo-Osaka speed record

This day an unknown Japanese Air Force pilot flew his F-104J Starfighter on a distance similar to the distance from Osaka to Tokyo (395 km) in 10 minutes and 21 seconds. He reached a maximum speed of 2.290 km/h (Around MACH2). The record flight was part of the program during the Tokyo Air Show held on Iruma Air Base in Japan. Beneath the official display pamphlet of the show. The F-104 took off from Nyutabaru AB (likely from 5th Wing) at 3:55 PM. Above the sea, near Kushimoto, Wakayama Prefecture, at altitude of appr. 17,000 m, it reached a speed above Mach 2, and it flew directly to Miharayama. JASDF radars at Wakayama and Chiba Prefectures tracked it along the route, and performed the necessary calculations. 1. It passed above the sea near Kushimoto at 4:16:05 PM, and above Izu Ooshima at 4:26:26. 2. Needed time was 10'21". 3. Altitude was about 17,000 m. 4. Wind direction was 253 degrees, almost west-southwest. 5. Wind speed was 147 km/h. 6. Temperature was -59.6 degrees. 7. True speed relative to air was 2,148 km/h, Mach 2.08. 8. Relative to ground, true speed plus wind was 2,295 km/h. Note: We still have strange feelings about the identity of this record F-104J. Lots of stories mention it being F-104J 76-8699, but this was delivered to the Japanese Air Self Defense Force on August 10th 1967 and that is 10 months after this record flight which is very unlikely.....

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8 November 1967 - F-104G - D-8082 - Capt. Henk Krauss - Dutch altitude record of over 70.000 ft

This day Capt Henk Krauss from 322 or 323 squadron based at Leeuwarden Air Base reached a new record when he zoomed over 70.000 feet (in-official 71.100 feet) with a pitch of around 30 degrees. Sadly no exact height is known. Beneath a photo of Henk thanks to his family. Also a photo taken at Leeuwarden showing a pilot returning from a zoomflight, wearing the astronaut high pressure helmet.

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14 December 1967 - CF-104 - 12700 (RCAF/AET&E) - Robert A. “Bud” White - New Canadian Altitude record of 100,110 ft (30,513 m).

This former CF-104 prototype (converted F-104A 56-770 from the USAF) was prepared for this record flight. Chase plane during this record flight was CF-104 Starfighter with serial 12702. Robert A White, who was a senior test pilot of the AET&E, earned the Trans-Canada Trophy for this achievement. He also set a Canadian speed record of 1,800 mph (appr. 2,900 km/ph) when he accelerated to Mach 2.4 during his Altitude record flight. The F-104 was specially prepared for this record flight by using an improved J-79 engine, special inlet cones, redesigned electrical and cockpit pressurization systems and sophisticated aoa measuring devices / cockpit instruments. Beneath a number of photos which the International F-104 Society received years ago from someone to share with the community. It shows the team preparing the aircraft and finally the flight and all documents which followed. At the end a photo of this aircraft which is currently on display inside the Air museum in Ottawa-Rockcliffe (June 2008).

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28 March 1968 - F-104G - FX01 - Cdt Ludo Forgeuer (350 squadron) - Belgium altitude record of 82.500 ft

An official Belgium altitude record of 82.500 feet was flown this day by Cdt Ludo Forgeuer (350 squadron pilot, based at Beauvechain AB) with F-104G serial FX01. Photos beneath were taken by Peter Doll.

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26 August 1976 - F-104S - MM6849 / 51-07 - Capt. Aldo Rossi - Italian speed record between Aviano-Trapani

At this day Capt Aldo Rossi (22 gruppo Istrana Air Base) managed to set a speed record during his flight from Aviano to airbase Trapani-Birgi. This distance of 911 km was flown in 43 minutes and 10 seconds with an average speed of 1268 km/h (Mach 1.19). The maximum speed was Mach 1.8 at 45000 feet. Beneath a photo of the MM6849 code 51-07 taken likely at Istrana (thanks to Klaas Folkersma)

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2 October 1976 - F-104RB - Red Baron - Darryl Greenamyer - Unofficial low altitude speed record of 1,010 mph

Former Lockheed test pilot Darryl Greenamyer built an F-104 out of parts he had collected including the phased out production reference airframe c/n 2051. It was powered by a former US NAVY Phantom J-79-GE10 engine. The aircraft, civil registered "N104RB", first flew first in 1976. On 2 October 1976, trying to set a new low-altitude 3-km speed record, Greenamyer averaged 1,010 mph at Mud Lake near Tonopah, Nevada. A tracking camera malfunction eliminated the necessary proof for the official record so it became unofficial.

Read more about this exotic aircraft and how it was born on our special page on the Red Baron, here.

Beneath some photos taken at the time the aircraft was still being build up, still lacking its engine.

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24 October 1977 - F-104RB - Red Baron  - Darryl Greenamyer - World absolute low altitude speed record of 988.26 mph (1.590.5kmh)

With his own build hybrid F-104 Starfighter powered by a former US NAVY Phantom J-79 engine, Darryl managed to reach an official world absolute low altitude speed record of 988.26 mph (1,606km/h) at Mud Lake near Tonopah, Nevada. Beneath some photos showing the happy Darryl in his cockpit, P.J. Burke sitting aside the timing camera position and the aircraft in front of Darryl's building in April 1977.
The photo beneath taken during the successful record flight, were made by Paul J Burke!

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26 February 1978 - F-104RB - Red Baron  - Darryl Greenamyer - Crashed on exercising attempts to break the world altitude record.

This day Darryl Greenamyer made a practice run for a world altitude record attempt. After the attempt, he was unable to get a lock light on the left wheel. After multiple touch-and-go tests at an Edwards Air Force Base runway, he determined that it was not safe to land. He ejected, and the "N104RB" crashed in the desert which ended the record flying project instantly. Beneath photos showing the crash site and also a photo showing the wreckage of the aircraft as found on the dump at Mojave in 1987.

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26 March 2004 - F-104S/ASA-M - MM6930/9-99 -  Piercarlo Ciacchi - Non refueling air time record of 2:50 hours

This day AMI pilot Piercarlo Ciacchi decided that his very last F-104 flight would be a special one. So he decided to organize some kind of record flight not yet broken by any F-104. He managed to set a world single flight hours record with 2.50 hours without air refueling. He used the famous Ducati red "9-99" from 10 Gruppo based at Grazzanise Air Base.
Photos beneath were taken before (with his team), during and after the record flight including a scan of the flight record as evidence. All photos thanks to Piercarlo Ciacchi (his private collection)!!

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17 November 2014 - CF-104 - N104RN? - Wolfgang Czaia - World longest operational F-104 pilot period (50 years).

This day Wolfgang Czaia flew a mission for the civilian organisation Starfighters Inc. With this flight he became the pilot with the longest operational F-104 pilot period ever.

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Note: If you miss any record flight or have additional information on other record flights please do not hesitate to mail us!!