On 26 June 1972, the first of 12 pre-production demonstrator prototype YF-15A Eagles, Airframe # 10280 (later 71-0280), rolled out of the McDonnell Douglas hangar in St. Louis.
Just over a month later, on 27 July 27, 1972, decked out in high-viz orange test markings and under the control of McDonnell Douglas chief test pilot Irving L. Burrows, 10280 took to the California skies over Edwards AFB, the type’s first test flight.
Six months after that, the Air Force ordered the type into full production and the rest, as they say, is history.
To date, F-15s have shot down 104+ enemy aircraft, mostly assorted MiGs, for zero air-to-air losses, leaving them with a serious claim of being the current, “World’s largest distributor of MiG parts.”
For those curious, 0280 is on display today at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.