Black Starfighter takes flight again

Starfighters Aerospace black TF104
Black Starfighter MM54258 takes off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, US.

On January 26, 2021, the US company Starfighters Aerospace performed the first routine post-maintenance flight with one of their two-seater Starfighters, a former Italian Air Force TF-104G MM54258 (construction number 583H-5209, model 583-10-20). The legendary fighter was flown by Starfighters Aerospace’s founder, Rick “Boss” Svetkoff at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, US.

Flying a Starfighter is nothing new for the US company, well known all over the world for being the only one to have a fleet of flight-ready F-104 supersonic aircraft. What drew attention to this flight was the aircraft's special all-black livery.

The black Starfighter had been seen before as it received this livery in 2016, but it had been on the ground for quite some time.

TF-104G MM54258 first entered service with the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) on January 22, 1970, and served for several decades as an interceptor fighter at the 4° Stormo (4th Wing) before Italy retired their frontline F-104s on October 31, 2004 (some of them continued to operate as chase planes until July 2005).

Although the choice of the black livery is not linked to a specific reason, the coincidence is that the 4th Wing also operated a black Starfighter, known as "Black Beauty", shortly before the withdrawal of the type. The Black Beauty MM6873/4-9 made its first flight on December 3, 2003 and remained in service until October 14, 2004.

According to some rumors, in 2023 some Starfighter Aerospace jets will reach Italy to participate in the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Italian Air Force.

Starfighters Aerospace black TF104

Starfighters Aerospace black TF104

Starfighters Aerospace black TF104

Italian Air Force black Starfighter

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Photo Credits: Matt Haskell via Starfighters Aerospace, K. Tokunaga (last one)

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