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Copywrite 2001-2004, California Science Center
 
Northrop T-38 Talon
 
Photo from Defense Visual Information Center, March ARB California
...the first twin-engine, high altitude supersonic jet trainer aircraft.
   

Specs
Wingspan: 7.7 meters (25 feet 3 inches)
Height: 3.9 meters (12 feet 11 inches)
Length: 14.1 meters (46 feet 4.5 inches)
Wing Area: 15.70 square meters (170 square feet)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.3

Maximum weight: 5485 kilograms (12093 pounds)
Range: 1759 kilometers (1093 miles)
Engines: two General Electric J85-GE-5A engines

History
The T-38 Talon jet has been used for advanced pilot training since the 1960s, enabling student pilots to learn supersonic techniques, aerobatics, night and instrument flying and cross-country navigation. The Talon is made primarily of riveted aluminum alloy and can take off with as little as 2,300 ft of runway, climbing to 30,000 ft in one minute. In addition to its role as a supersonic trainer, the T-38 is used as a spaceflight readiness trainer for NASA astronauts and as a research support aircraft (also known as a chase aircraft, a plane used to escort planes during test flights or other research misions) at Edwards Air Force Base.

The first T-38 flew in 1959, and the Air Force obtained over 1,000 of the planes between 1961 and 1972. About half of the planes are still in service.

The Science Center's T-38
Our T-38 Talon was built in 1959 at Northrop Field in Hawthorne, California. It entered the Air Force inventory in 1960. The Talon is on loan from the U.S. Air Force Museum Program.

T-38 Talon Links
Northrop T-38A Talon
This page from the U.S. Air Force Museum mentions the T-38's use at the Navy's Top Gun combat training program, and also highlights Jacqueline Cochran's record-breaking flights, made in the early '60s.

FAS Military Analysis Network: T-38 Talon
The best features of this page from the Federation of American Scientists are the excellent photos of Talons in flight, along with the detailed list of Talon specifications.

Jacqueline Cochran
The dramatic story of Jackie Cochran's life is summarized on this site from the Smithsonian, which also includes an account of Cochran's leadership of women pilots during World War II and a listing of many of her flight awards and accomplishments. Cochran set an altitude record for women in the T-38 on October 12, 1961.

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