Photos from the Mojave desert...
As per last time......a bit of a quiz for you. CJ should get some of these, I expect great things from Uncle Pete again.......
Nice one to start, for Charlie. Who is this cheeky chappie, and what's the significance?
Almost right, Charlie, this is the skunk from the Lockheed Skunkworks. This building is the present Skunkworks, but he SR-71 and U2 were built in Berkeley, LA. This, however, was the home of the F-117a Nighthawk. There are only 2 F117's on (sort of) public display in the entire world that are actual flight articles, sitting on the ground, on the wheels; Scorpion 4 is in a restoration hangar at Edwards, and there is one at the US Air Force museum in Dayton. All the others are simply airframe shells on sticks...
Less straightforward. At one point, entry to this building required the highest level of security clearance in the continental USA. Why?
It was where the B-2 was constructed.
And next door, what engineering marvel underwent final assembly in here?
This is where both the XB70 Valkyries were assembled.
The above was also part-built in here, along with two other aeronautical masterpeices. Name them.
The B1 underwent part assembly in here, but more interesting for me, this is the Rockwell Shuttle Assembly and Refurb facility.
And one of them was also built in here...which one?
B1. Opinions are divided as to wether final assembly was here, or in the building above. Given historical photos of the ramp with a dozen B1s outside, I think this is the more likely spot.
What's this, and why did it warrant a detour once I discovered where it was last Sunday?
One, it's a Convair 990a, of which only 37 were ever built, as far as I can tell in the same San Diego plant they built (and still part build) the Atlas rockets. Not sure if any other examples are publicly viewable. Secondly, as identified by Mr Stewart, it was the airframe used to test the Shuttle landing gear.
Out here in the scrub, lies an abandoned and burnt out ranch. So why is it worth a mention?
It was the Happy Bottom Riding Club, where the Edwards Test Pilots used to hang out.
Next up, what's this on the side of a big hill?
This is the Air Force Research Laboratory. It was here, alongside the now demolished test stand at Huntsville, and Stennis near New Orleans, where the F1 engine for the Saturn 5 was tested.
So, I saw 4 of these today. What's special about this one?
This is the original, no.1 prototype, codenamed "Oxcart" and owned by the CIA. Almost fifty years on, it's mission history is still not declassified....
Why has this wing got a chunk out of it. And therefore, Mr Stewart, what's it's tailcode?
I thought this was easy but I guess the angle made it less so. This is Balls-eight, the NASA B-52 used to launch the majority of the X-15 rocket plane flights. The cutout was to accommodate the tailfin.
And what does this mean, painted on the side?
it denotes a failed launch mission when the X-15 didn't drop as "The F***ing Hook Broke..."
And lastly, who was Pete Knight, and why is he famous?
As well as being a test pilot at Edwards, and a very good one, he is still the fastest pilot in the world, breaking speed and altitude records.
So there you go. And two last questions for you:
i) Why are USAF tankers designated KC, i.e. KC-10, KC-135
ii) Why was Edwards AFB formerly known as Muroc?
iii) What is a "Speckled Trout"?