FRANK. R. MORMILLO's plate, taken during one of the five unmanned captive flights of the orbiter atop the Boeing 747 which commenced from Edwards AFB on February 18, 1977, shows the conspicuous bulged fairing which presently streamlines the Orbiter's blunt rear fuselage.
Well in evidence in this in-flight study are the end-plates added to the tailplane of 747 N905NA. Traces of the markings of the airliner's previous owner, American Airlines, are also visible.
A close-up of the attachment points beneath the Orbiter wing.
The Orbiter carrier over the Rocky Mountains, minus its charge. The Orbiter struts and end plate fins are easily removable
The rear fuselage fairing and fin and rudder of the Orbiter.
The sheer bulk of the Orbiter makes it appear too heavy for the 747 to lift.
Access to the Orbiter is achieved by means of this hydraulic platform.
The take-off for the first manned captive flight on June 18, 1977, with astronauts Fred Haise and Gordon Fullerton aboard the Orbiter. Flutter, the Orbiter speed brakes, and control stick steering were checked out during the 55min flight.