Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

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capercaillie
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Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

As part of a two and a half week tour of the West Coast and taking in the Golden Air Tattoo, Geoff (st24) arranged some excellent base tours, perhaps the pick of which was a ramp tour of Edwards Air Force Base, home of the USAF Test Pilots School operating its red and white (at that time) school of aircraft, the test and research side of testing types destined for and in USAF service, NASA Dryden and at the time the two SR-71 Blackbirds temporarily brought back into USAF service to cover reconnaissance shortfalls. Our very accommodating guide John took us around the USAF sections including some time alongside the runway, the stored exhibits for the forthcoming museum and even tried NASA, who allowed us a few bits but not the F-16XLs John was hoping to show us.
Kicking off with some white top 135s and 707s. Speckled Trout C-135C was being towed back to its hangar.
Imageimg079 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg080 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Support NKC-135E Stratotanker
Imageimg082 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

The ARIA fleet, three EC-135E aircraft and three EC-18B/D, the latter are Boeing 707 conversions recognisable by their numerous windows.
Imageimg076 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg077 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg078 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg081 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg089 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg103 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Continuing the white topped theme NC-141A Starlifter
Imageimg109 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

The YC-17A Globemaster III prototype wearing the lizard scheme
Imageimg107 by Paul Downes, on Flickr
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

Staying big B-52H Stratofortress with cruise missiles
Imageimg101 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Two NC-130H Hercules, one an ex DC-130A drone carrier, the other formerly the EC-130V AEW conversion
Imageimg105 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg106 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

On the visitors ramp, the last USAF T-33, operated by the Calspan Flight Research Centre, the lovely NT-33A Silver Star
Imageimg116 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Based at Beale AFB, the 9th RW had two SR-71As back on the books having been withdrawn a few years earlier, operated from Edwards alongside the NASA fleet for presumed ease, we were fortunate to see one taxi out (if only we knew it was on its way), John took us down to the runway side for its take off and we were about to cross the runway when it came back, sadly the sun is the wrong side both times, but still an unforgettable experience I felt very privileged to enjoy.
Imageimg110 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg111 (2) by Paul Downes, on Flickr

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Imageimg114 (3) by Paul Downes, on Flickr
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

Sadly all the red and whites have gone now, but at the time F-16s, a few F-15s and C-23s were still wearing the colours and the T-38s and T-39s looked neat in the all white schemes.
Imageimg092 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

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Imageimg108 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

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Imageimg098 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg099 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Thumbs up if you like T-38s
Imageimg091 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Shuttle trainer
Imageimg088 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg087 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg102 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg104 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg090 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Love these
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Imageimg084 by Paul Downes, on Flickr
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

Visiting Nellis Eagle
Imageimg115 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

NASA Hornets
Imageimg120 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg118 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Balls 8 now retired and replaced by an H in fleet colours
Imageimg117 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

X-31 in the hangar, was surprised and pleased to see this
Imageimg121 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Left parked next to the F-15 revetments the loser in the ATF competition the YF-23 Gray Ghost, totally bizarre looking. We saw the YF-22 just over a week later at Nellis.
Imageimg122 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Next time in the second part the preserved museum aircraft with plenty more red and whites, a taster with this NC-141A Starlifter sporting an F-15 Eagle nose.
Imageimg123 by Paul Downes, on Flickr
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Maccyd
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by Maccyd »

Looks like a fantastic tour, really interesting set and commentary. I never realised the YF-23 was so weird looking!

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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by Blackbird »

That must have been a fantastic trip. Great set 👍👍

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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by Downes0106 »

Amazing set of airframes.
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by Spiny Norman »

Great series of pictures. Those NASA Hornets were very nice indeed.

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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

It was indeed a really good tour, I'm a big fan of test and research types so it was always destined to be among the highlights especially under the California blue skies. We were also taken to the store area where several types were gathered ready for the forthcoming museum collection being assembled. Among the highlights the previously shown Eagle nosed NC-141A and this C-135A with RC type nose and underfuselage sensors used in the stealth emission tests for the B-2 Spirit.
Imageimg131 (2) by Paul Downes, on Flickr

The afterburning YA-7F version of the Corsair which lost out to the F-16 in replacing A-7s in the ANG units
Imageimg130 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Another aircraft that was destined for the USAF as the T-37 replacement until costs killed it off, the T-46 Eaglet
Imageimg135 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

The only two seat A-10 built, the YA-10B was later marketed as the A-10N/AW night/adverse weather attack aircraft.
Imageimg134 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

The F-111AFTI with enlarged mission wing which could subtly change aerofoil shape in flight
Imageimg137 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Another F-111A in one of the parks as you approach the main gate
Imageimg136 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg139 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Calspan A-26 Invader
Imageimg138 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Six red and whites included three different Phantom variants, the NA-37B Dragonfly, a nice Beaver and the Digitac fly by light NA-7D Corsair II
Imageimg124 (2) by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg125 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

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Imageimg128 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

Imageimg133 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

A couple of NASA relics still to scan
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GeeRam
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by GeeRam »

Great photo's and funnily enough yesterday I started to scan my slides from my west coast tour in April 1997 that took in the 50th Anniversary Airshow at Nellis AFB.... :laughing:

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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by capercaillie »

Cheers all for the nice comments. My scanner will be heading to Nellis for the Golden Tattoo too in a little while, as promised to finish the base tour, three ex NASA airframes kicking around including a Jetstar with a pylon to mount various fan bladed turbines amongst its work.
Imageimg333 by Paul Downes, on Flickr

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Imageimg335 by Paul Downes, on Flickr
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Re: Edwards Air Force Base April 1997 - Blackbird, White Tops and Test Pilots

Post by Domvickery »

How have I never seen this thread?!

Keep 'em coming!
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