61-7963


963 taking off from Beale AFB - Lockheed photo via Tony Landis
963 takes off from Beale AFB - Lockheed photo via Tony Landis
On July 28, 1976, Capt. Robert Helt and Maj. Larry Elliot flew 963 at a world absolute record for sustained horizontal flight altitude of 85,069 feet. The reference white cross can be seen on the aircraft's underbelly in the above photo.



Jim Sullivan and Noel Widdifield, who set the New York to London speed record in 972, in front of 963. - 1st SRS photo via E.D. McKim

Her last flight was just three months later. Just like her sister ship 961, 963 was unlucky enough to be cannibalized for parts for other airframes, and so ended her flying career early.  She last flew on October 28, 1976, with a total of 1604.4 hours of flight time.

Steven Myatt worked with the blackbirds from 1975-77, and was lucky enough to take the following pictures of 963 at Kadena.
963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

963 at Kadena, c. 1975 - photo courtesy of Steven Myatt

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