HA5403 Northrop T-38A Talon "Jackie Cochran" 60-0551, Edward Air Force Base, California, 1961
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The first prototype of what would become the Northrop T-38 Talon and F-5 Freedom Fighters flew on April 10, 1959. The first Talon entered service on March 17, 1961 at Randolph AFB. The USAF and NASA used the Talon to help their pilots maintain their proficiency. NASA especially liked the T-38 for its much lower operating and maintenance costs compared to the F-18 they had tried. Because of the low cost to operate the T-38 the USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Team used them from 1974 – 1983 during the OPEC oil embargo.
Jacqueline Jackie Cochran was born into poverty but achieved greatness as she grew up. Jackie began air racing in the late 1930s and in June 1941 she was the first woman to fly a bomber across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1943 was appointed to the General Staff of the USAAF to direct the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program. Jackie was the first woman to break the sound barrier, set distance and altitude records and averaged a speed of 844mph while flying Northrop T-38A Talon 60-0551.