Image: View from an F-15D
NASA pilot Jim Less and photographer Jim Ross pull their F-15D #897 aircraft away from a KC-135 refueling tanker. NASA is supporting the Edwards Air Force Base F-15 program with safety and photo chase expertise.
NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center currently flies an F-15D Eagle aircraft for research support and pilot proficiency. NASA research support aircraft are commonly called chase planes and fill the role of escort aircraft during research missions. Chase pilots are in constant radio contact with research pilots and serve as an "extra set of eyes" to help maintain total flight safety during specific tests and maneuvers. They monitor certain events for the research pilot and are an important safety feature on all research missions.
Chase aircraft also are used as camera platforms for research missions that must be photographed or videotaped. Aeronautical engineers use this pictorial coverage (photos, motion pictures, and videotape) extensively to monitor and verify various aspects of research projects. The F-15D is also used by Armstrong research pilots for routine flight training required by all NASA pilots.