Last week, residents of the Houston area had a rare opportunity to watch a historic aviation event: the formation flight of three WB-57 research aircraft. Why historic? Well, November 19th was the first time that all three of NASA’s WB-57s have been aloft simultaneously since the early 1970s.
The WB-57 was developed from the Martin B-57 Canberra USAF jet bomber in order to fly research missions. NASA explains:
These fully operational WB-57 aircraft are based near NASA’s Johnson Space Center at Ellington Field, home of the NASA WB-57 High Altitude Research Program, which provides unique, high-altitude airborne platforms to support scientific research and advanced technology development and testing. Mission examples include atmospheric and earth science, ground mapping, cosmic dust collection, rocket launch support, and testbed operations for future airborne or spaceborne systems.
The B-57 bombers were retired in 1983, only three flightworthy WB-57Fs remained. Below are a few more photos of the event.
Photos: NASA JSC / photographers: James Blair, Robert Markowitz