The “missile with a man in it” was one of the most badass planes ever.
Overall, 2,580 Lockheed Martin F-104 Starfighter aircraft flew with the air forces of 15 countries in about 50 years.
As already explained several times on The Aviationist, the F-104 represented a huge leap forward for all those countries that passed from old subsonic to a bisonic jet which called for a much greater concentration on the part of pilots who were often faced with split second decisions.
The transition from the previous generation of aircraft to the high performances of the F-104 was often far from painless and that’s why some of the Starfighter‘s users were beset by numerous tragic accidents.
Although the majority of such incidents were caused by human factor or poor weather conditions or because the aircraft was pushed to its limits rather than by plane failures, the “Zipper”, as it was nicknamed in the fighter pilots community, was nonetheless undeservedly dubbed the “widow maker” by the public opinion.
An epithet that was firmly rejected by most pilots who loved the F-104 and its stunning performance.
Anyway, here is a video of a “Zipper” flying dangerously low. According to the comments on the Youtube page it was filmed in the early 1980s at Volkel airbase, in the Netherlands, and shows a Royal Netherlands Air Force F-104 buzzing spotters during an Open Day.