2009 Edwards AFB Open House

Photo Gallery

Update (Nov 13,'09) - added sound clips for various planes.
Edwards AFB hasn't had an open house event for 3 years, so there was a lot of interest in the 2009 show. Edwards is the main Air Force flight test center for the U.S. with a rich aviation history behind it. One of the more famous exploits there was Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the X-1. Edwards is also known for being the alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle.

For some reason, I wanted to get there before the gates opened at 7am. In retrospect, it was a darn good thing I did! Even at 6am, there was a line of vehicles waiting to get in. By 7, there was a long line of headlights stretching back on the one lane road from the main entrance. I found out later that as the day wore on, that line would get longer and longer, and it would take some people almost 5 hours before they parked, went through security, got on a bus, and finally make it on base! Needless to say, getting out was really quite nasty as well. The traffic flow and control did not take into account trying to get 250,000 people out at the same time.

However, IF you could get past the traffic situation, you were in for a treat, as there were some fantastic displays and flying to be seen at the Edwards Open House air show. Oh, and it got HOT too. Something about being a desert and all that.
Nikon D300 w/70-300mm VR, D200 w/18-105mm VR - Bernard Zee

At the entrance to the base was this grand old B-52. This 0008 plane was used by NASA to launch the X-planes. Lit by the orange rays of the early dawn light.

In the hangar on base, a B-1B bomber - otherwise known as the BONE.

A view of the rear thrusters on a Bone; this one outdoors.

NASA had on display their 747 which was used to carry the Space Shuttle piggyback style.

As a treat, Edwards had their recently refurbished SR-71 Blackbird out on display.

Looking a bit odd sporting its new gloss black paint. Supposed to be a cost saving measure...

Still, an awesome plane with an equally awesome history!

This unusual F-15 S/MTD with large forward canards is a NASA technology demonstrator. It flew a demo at the last Edwards show in 2006.

A head on view of the highly maneuverable F-15.

Another interesting and unusual aircraft there was the F-16XL. With a cranked arrow delta wing, it had twice the wing area of a standard F-16.

Don't know much about this, just thought it was a cool picture!
Update: It's a Lockheed YO-3 'Quiet Star'. Designed for night battlefield observation during the Vietnam war. It was a very quiet plane, and can fly as low as 200 ft over the enemy without being heard. Thanks to Charlie Baumann for the ID!
Christian Jacobsen had this to add about this plane: "One of the programs I saw while I was at NASA was a project for developing quieter helicopter rotors (or for downtown VTOL public airports). They would mount microphones on the wings of the YO-3 and follow our helicopters around to do real-world testing of the various rotor designs. (A Blackhawk, an Apache, and a Little Bird.) Because it could fly slowly, silently, and close to the helicopters, it was the perfect platform for the audio testing aspect of the project."
"Every aspect of the plane was developed to be as quiet as possible... which was part of the reason it had that odd looking wooden propeller. Apparently it was the quietest prop ever made!"
Got the following from Kurt Olney, who was a crew chief on a YO-3A in Vietnam, and was helping out at Edwards with the plane: "The elements that made the plane ulltra quiet--some might say silent when it flies 800-1000 feet overhead--were the following 1. Slow turning prop 700 rpm (minimizes tip noise.) 2. An exhaust system that runs the length of one side of the airplane, 3. IO-360 continental engine enclosed in acoustic deadening cowling and silicone in the rocker box covers 4. 12 v-belts--reduction drive- (we use to call them rubber bands) that eleminate gear noise. 5. A streamlined plane. (plane is based on a Schweizer 2-32 glider but greatly modified.) 6. Duct tape. Before planes went on a mission, they would fly about 300 feet over the maintenance shack. If we heard whistles, rattles etc, we would bring her in put some tape on her. After a while we pretty much knew where the problems were likely to be so we taped her before she went up."

NASA has its version of the U-2, looking much more friendly in gloss white.

A Hughes Loach helicopter. Reminded me of the one flown by T.C. in Magnum P.I.

P-40 Warhawk with its awesome sharkmouth paintjob.

The T-33 Acemaker was also there at Edwards.

Here's a British Spitfire. I have no idea which Mark!
update: It's a replica Mk IX Spitfire (registration # N1940K). Hand built by Robert Deford, and took 8 years to complete. Uses the real Spitfire gear, canopies, and control stick. The plane has a steel tube frame covered in wood and metal. Uses a Allison V-12 engine and the prop off a DC-3. Thanks to Greg (the Acemaker pilot), and others who've sent me info on the plane!

CAF was out in force. Here's their shiny B-17 Sentimental Journey.

Browning 0.50 cal machine guns. Not candycanes.

Also shiny is the B-25 Pacific Prowler. It's been pointed to me that the Pacific Prowler is not part of the CAF, but operated by Jim Terry. Jim currently keeps the plane at the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth, TX.

Rear view of the B-25.

Used by the military as a heavy transport in WWII, planes like this Curtiss C-46F Commando 'China Doll' flew the 'hump' from India-Burma to China.

Looking like a Gooney Bird, this is actually a AC-47 Spooky gunship!

C-130J props as art!

This modified F-16 is used as an in-flight simulator. It can be programmed to have its flight response mimic that of any aircraft. The dorsal hump housed the computers and electronics needed for that simulation. Of course, the same computing power can be performed nowadays by something the size of a cell phone! :-)

As the sign sez - a CH-46.

A mean looking B-52 on the ground.

Brute power never goes out of style! An A-10 Warthog sporting some bling.

I 'think', the chromed out GAu-8 Avenger is not standard fare on combat aircraft!

There were quite a few Edward planes on display and in the air. Just look for the 'ED' on the tail! This F-16 is loaded up and surrounded by various weapons it can carry.

Here are a couple of GPS guided GBU-31 2000lb JDAM bombs. Guaranteed to ruin someone's day!

Early in the morning, a pair of F-16s take to the sky. Here in the backseat is General Chuck Yeager!

They overflew the base and broke the sound barrier at exactly 10am. The double sonic boom reverberated through the open hangar in a loud and most shocking manner, scaring the crap out of me! Love it!!

A A-10 takes off on the newly constructed 4L runway - which is half the distance to the spectators. This only made it 'far' away, as opposed to 'in the next county'!

Makes a close pass with the gear down.
Click the play button to hear the unique sounds of the A-10!

Turning away, retracting the gear.

Shot of the A-10 banking.
Sounds of the Warthog making a strafing run!

An unexpected treat was the use of pyro to simulate bomb drops!

Yeah baby! Bring the heat!

The Warthog makes several attack runs.


That was a cool pyro and A-10 display!

Flying inverted through the smoke...target destroyed.

Next up was a Doolittle raid re-enactment. Here's the CAF B-25 Pacific Prowler on its low level approach...
Click play button to hear the B-25 on its bomb run. The thumping sound is the pyros going off. Looks better than it sounds!


It quickly became more than the Doolittle raid, as there were other WWII aircraft that joined in the mix. The B-17 Sentimental Journey with its bomb bay doors open.

Coming the other way to drop its load!
The mellow sounds of the B-17!


This P-38 has the bold D-Day ID stripes.

As a finale, the B-17 has a nice banked photo pass.

Followed by the B-25.

Nice formation shot of the P-51 'Gunfighter' and the P-38.

I believe Steve Hinton then took the P-38 on some aerobatic moves looping and rolling through the skies. What a treat!

Scaled Composites love to create odd and wacky aircraft. WhiteKnight 2 is no exception!

WhiteKnight 2 is meant to be the mothership for SpaceShipTwo - which has not been shown yet.
Here's the sound of the Whiteknight2 in case your were interested.

Virgin Galactic is trying to break ground as being the first company catering to space tourism. WhiteKnight 2 will carry the smaller rocket SpaceShipTwo high in the air. When released, SpaceshipTwo will ignite its rockets and go into the very edges of space - then fall back to earth. It should work... they won the X-prize with the earlier SpaceShipOne and White Knight.

The B-2 bomber bike from OCC. I remember watching that episode! At least they are riding it around - not just putting it in a glass container!

Viper West takes off in an F-16 to start their demonstration routine.

In a high speed pass - you can sort of see the afterburner flame. A bit.

Pulling a tiny bit of vapor as it makes a high G turn.

As he went straight up in the air - people had to shield their eyes. Basically looking right into the sun! I didn't even bother trying to take a picture of the plane.

A beautiful pass by the F-16. Bit of a challenge with where the sun was all day long!

John Collver in his SNJ-5.

John flies a beautiful routine, and it's always great to hear those P&W radial engines.

A C-17 from March AFB also did a demo.

Good thing I don't need a long lens to shoot it!

I LOVE this shot. This was actually after the demo was over, and he had taken off AGAIN (presumably to go back home). After take off, he banked hard left towards the crowd and we got this unusual and wonderful look at the C-17!

Taking off on runway 4R (it's so far away it's like in another state!), is the B-52. Note the B-1B on the ground behind it.

That's followed by the B-2 Stealth bomber. Man I need a telescope!

Julie Clark in her Chevron T-34.

She has this cool daytime fireworks display (shot from the ground).

Which she flies through!

Looking high up in the sky for...

The Golden Knights Army parachute team! Here in freefall with smoke on.

Not much wind that day. Everyone landed 'in the target center'! That's what the announcer kept saying... :-)

Oh happy, happy, joy, joy! I haven't seen a B-2 flyby in AGES!

Batman, eat your heart out!

Higher on the decibel scale - the B-1B Bone makes a high speed pass with afterburners!

The Bone is too awesome for words.

This Bone is from Edwards (note the ED). The official name for the B-1B is Lancer. But Bone is so much cooler. By the way, B-1 = B-One = Bone. How about that!

In service longer than I've been alive, the venerable B-52 Stratofortress, or as some may call it...BUFF!

Bomb bay doors open, the BUFF is set to unleash a world of hurt on some unsuspecting fool...
The drumming beat at the end of the audio clip is the series of pyros going off. They set off a LOT of charges!


..BOOm, BOOm, BOOm... it went on for a while! :-)

After a short break, it was time for TORA TORA TORA!

TORA, TORA, TORA refers to the code phrase for complete surprise achieved for the Japanese Dec 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. This was made famous by the 1970 movie of the same name.

A pair of Japanese planes turn in tight formation. The Kate and Zero are replicas.

A T-38 trainer taxis by as their airfield is being bombed by Japanese replica planes!

Most of these planes started out as AT-6s.

The Kate required a lot of work. It started as an AT-6 airframe, rear and tail removed. A 7 ft extension added to rear of cockpit, then the tail of a BT-13 grafted on. A longer section added to the front of the firewall. Canopy redone into a 5 section piece. Wingtips extended and reshaped. Fin and rudder reshaped. 3rd seat added facing rearwards. In the end, it really does look like a B5N Kate!

For the Zero, changes were made to the AT-6 cockpit canopy area, and engine cowling. Wing tips and rudder were reshaped to match the Zero's. Wheel pants and wheel well shapes were also changed. This one is missing the large spinner that the others have.

Well, no P-51s at Pearl Harbor - we'll just imagine it's a P-40.

The background explosions added some nice black smoke for some of the shots. After a while, it did get very smokey to see anything though!

This one has got the big spinner on the front. Bombs away!

The smoke interacted with the air/wind to make some interesting patterns. Note the orange glow from the fires.

Tried to get the planes and explosion in the same shot. Hard to do though!

The planes were coming and going in both directions!

The Tora Tora Tora team put on a heck of a show!

That torpedo the Kate is carrying opens up and doubles as storage space!

Love the shots with the smoke in the back.

Got the P-51 and a Zero coming the other way in the same shot!

Go get him!

The Japanese formation regroups for one last flyby. I happen to catch them with the B-17 in the foreground. Man, that's just like Pearl Harbor!

A closer look at the front group.

Oh my! They dropped another load as a parting gift!

The P-51 swings around afterwards for a victory lap.

Flying the stars and stripes, Gunfighter makes its way back.

Steve Hinton goes up again in the silver P-38. Don't know much about the plane numbered 981.
update: Got a note from Alan Peterson that the plane is a P-38L-5 (F-5G), owned by Allied Fighters based at Chino California. Thanks for the info Alan!

Tough to photograph the P-38, as it only looks good banked and the cockpit is visible.

The much anticipated F-22 Raptor demonstration gets underway.

Strangely enough, it's the Edwards AFB Raptor that's flying. Turned out the demo F-22, AND the backup F-22 both developed some technical problems. Good thing Edwards had a plane ready to fill in!

Here's the F-22 showing off its missile/bomb bays. There's one missile mounted on the planes' left most bay.

The Edwards plane in a high speed pass in afterburner.

The Raptor never fails to wow the crowd!

Here he comes, close and fast!

It was an unbearably hot and dry day in the Mojave dessert - but the Raptor still could generate a tiny bit of vapor!

I have no idea what that green splotch is. At least it's a uniquely Edwards Raptor shot!!

The F-22 joins with the P-38, F-16, and A-10 to form the Heritage flight.

Here's they are again, from the left.

And a final pass from behind the crowd.

After the formation breaks apart, the planes make their individual passes.

Parting shot of the F-22.

The finale is the Edwards Air Force Test Center flyby. It had 2 F-16s, a T-38, a B-1, B-2, B-52, C-17, KC-135, and C-130!

Closer view of the F-16s and T-38.

A unique bomber formation of B-2, B-52, and B-1B.

Here's the Bone in slow mode. Note the wings in swept forward position.

B-2 Spirit of New York. That's an Edwards bird too.

The B-52 BUFF soldiers on. Thus ended the flying portion of the open house!

These kids had a field day with this contraption. I would puke after 5 seconds myself!

Here's a civil air patrol glider.
Update: Charles Petersen identified it as a "Czech built Blanik L-23, successor to the L-13 which was the primary flight trainer for most every Eastern Block military pilot".

] NASA uses a lot of military planes for their own purposes. Here's Predator redone as Ikhana. Instead of Hellfire missiles, it has an instrument pod payload.
Slight correction: It's a Predator 'B', otherwise more commonly known as a Reaper. Thanks to Bob Drabant for that catch.

NASA X-48 flying models, and a NASA Global Hawk version in the back. There is this chain mail going around with photoshopped Boeing X-48s talking about this new Boeing super jet. Well, this is the real thing folks - only about 20 ft. wide! :-)

The star display at the show had to be the F-35 Lighting II.

In development forever, the F-35 is meant to supplement the F-22. This one actually flies, and is not a mockup!

One of the Air Force test pilots who will be flying the F-35 (soon). He said only contractors are flying the plane for now, as it hasn't been turned over to the Air Force yet.

The Global Hawk is a huge unmanned plane that flies fully automated.

Scaled Composites original WhiteKnight mothership.

The new improved WhiteKnight2 mothership. Only the right side has a cockpit.

I was very happy with the way the pictures turned out. It was a really nice show! Too bad I left my hat in the car - the desert sun totally fried me! Though the morning started out really cold, it was downright hot by 10am! Only got worse from there. At least I had sunglasses (racoon face) and sunscreen. I thought it was very considerate for Edwards to provide free drinking water - in the form of 500 gallon water buffalos. (More) people would have passed out with heat stroke if not for that! For maximum enjoyment, remember to get there EARLY, keep your cool, and don't be in a hurry to leave! Thanks to the Air Force and all the volunteers who made this event possible!