The F-15 is a twin engine, high performance, all weather air superiority fighter. First flown in July 1972, the Eagle entered USAF inventory in November 1974. It was the first U.S. fighter to have engine thrust greater than the normal weight of the aircraft, allowing it to accelerate while in a vertical climb. This, combined with low aircraft weight to wing area, makes the Eagle very highly maneuverable. The Eagle was produced in both single-seat and two-seat versions.
The museum's single-seat F15A, nicknamed "Streak Eagle," broke eight time-to-climb world records between Jan. 16 and Feb. 1, 1975. In setting the last of the eight records, it reached an altitude of 98,425 feet just 3 minutes, 27.8 seconds from brake release at takeoff and "coasted" to nearly 103,000 feet before descending. It was flown in its natural metal finish to reduce weight for the record-setting flights. To protect it from corrosion, McDonnell Douglas Corp. has since painted it in the gray color scheme of most operational F-15s.
"Streak Eagle" is an early preproduction aircraft. Differences in internal structure and systems operation made it too costly to return to operational service. It was delivered to the museum in December 1980 after it was no longer useful as a flight test vehicle.