A short film recreates the real events of the flight from the 1983 movie

'The Right Stuff': What really happened to Chuck Yeager's NF-104 fighter

The American film "The Right Stuff" (1983) is one of the best feature films on the history of aviation and astronautics.

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The film begins and ends with a legendary pilot: Chuck Yeager. At the beginning we see the moment in which he went down in history when he became, in 1947, the first aviator to break the barrier of sound in horizontal flight with the Bell X-1. And by the way, Yeager himself had a cameo in the film, playing the role of bartender and serving a drink to the actor representing him, Sam Shepard.

Chuck Yeager with the actor Sam Shepard, who played his role in the movie "Chosen for Glory" (1983), next to a replica of the Bell X-1 with which he broke the sound barrier in 1947.

In the final part of the film we can see the scene that shows the flight carried out by Yeager aboard one of the three Lockheed NF-104A Starfighters owned by the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School December 10, 1963. The scene has several details incorrect. First of all, Yeager takes off alone in an F-104G (63-13269) and it seems that he takes the plane without having a flight plan. The difference between the aircraft is explained by the fact that the two surviving NF-104A stopped flying on December 20, 1971. The clearest difference between the NF-104A that Yeager flew (the 56-762) and the Fokker-built German F-104G used in the film is that the former was endowed with a rocket engine located at the bottom of its drift.

Yeager with the third and final NF-104 built for NASA. This photo was taken six days before the accident in the Yeager lost plane (Photo: USAF).

On the other hand, that flight was not improvised. Yeager flew accompanied by a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star , an aircraft that was already obsolete but was used as a companion aircraft in test flights.

A few weeks ago, J.P. Ferré published an excellent short film that recreates what really happened on that flight. Its preparation has taken two years, reproducing the scenes using the Eagle Dynamics DCS World simulator, adding visual and acoustic effects additional to provide an even more realistic story (the video is in English but has Spanish subtitles, you can activate them in the bottom bar of the player):

You can see here some screenshots of the video as a preview. Here we see the NF-104A flown by Chuchk Yeager, with its distinctive rocket engine attached to the bottom of the drift.

Here is another side image of the plane, in which we can better see what it was like. The video is highly realistic and the detail with which the plane has been made is impressive.

The old USAF Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star that accompanied Yeager's NF-104A.

The NF-104A with the rocket bike on. This scene could not be reproduced as it is in the 1983 film, since the advanced computer effects we have today were not available then.

The NF-104A reaching 100,000 feet (30,480 meters) , already in the stratosphere.

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