Well, the Edwards Open House today was pretty cool...
What wasn't cool was that it took me longer to get from the gate to parking than it did for me to get to the base from LA - I was sitting there being buzzed by an F-18, then a B-52, and finally a B-1 before I got to parking. The airmen directing traffic called it "unreal" - I sat there for more than 2 hours, so indeed I missed a lot. Some of the highlights...
The [X-45] was in the big hangar, sitting with a bomb bay open. Because of it's position, you really couldn't see much though, and when I went back to look late in the day it was gone (my comment of "My god, they really DID make it invisible!" got no laughs). It was pretty cool to see in person, and I got a few photos of it.
An actual [X-43] flight article was there. Last time (2 years ago) there was only a mockup around. Since then, X-43 #1 [crashed] and burned on it's test flight, unfortunately.
A USAF [CV-22] was there. Pretty cool stuff. The guys from that project were getting annoyed with people asking questions about crashes and things by about 3 though.
The [Global Hawk] that was there was not only sporting nose art from several Austrailia deployments, but Afghanistan as well. It was also wearing the new, ultra-clashy white/olive paint job. There was some nose art I couldn't see very well with the twin towers, something in arabic, and "Let's roll" underneath. No kids jumping on it this year :)
Sitting in traffic and getting buzzed by a B-1B doing 600 kts at 200' over me was actually kinda cool.
The [A-10] demos were as always, spectacular, with lots of close passes over the crowd. They opened that with a formation flight with the A-10 and a P-51D flown by an Apollo astronaut.
The [F-117] demo was way cooler this year, they were doing rolls right over us on the flightline and did another simulated bomb drop over the runway.
The [C-17] did a mass airdrop of a number of different things, got a good photo of that too. They also did a low, high speed pass where that thing was handling like a fighter. It might not look like much, but I don't know of any other plane that size that can do the things it can do. Not only did they do a 5g turn right over us, but they landed, BACKED UP with reverse thrust, taxiied in reverse, dropped out a pallet, and took off in 1500' or so. Very impressive.
I didn't find out what the "infiltration/exfiltration" demo was, but towards the end of the day there were two [Blackhawks] sitting off the taxiway with rotors turning for more than an hour. They could have been CSAR birds though.
The [AFFTC] flyovers were cool - all the fighters at first flying in formation (T-38, F-117, F-16, F-15, F-15E, etc) followed by bombers (B-52 and B-1), followed by transports (C-17 and KC-135R). Pretty cool, though I have to admit I was disappointed that there was no B-2 anywhere this year.
The test pilots in the F-15E and F-16 did a really impressive set together. Edwards is a really unique experience - at most other airshows, you see dedicated airshow performers, people who do a routine and just do it over and over all year. There aren't that many surprises. At Edwards, a lot of the flying is done by the test pilots, who spend maybe a few days in the month before the Open House coming up with something cool. It's a lot more improvisational and it really shows- you see things you would never see at another airshow, and there are things you can do at Edwards that you can't do anywhere else. And these guys REALLY know the planes they are driving!
The Stoli MiGs are now the [Red Bull MiGs] I guess. From what the announcer said I think there was a mock dogfight between an F-16 and the MiG-17, I didn't catch much of that, just the MiG-17 doing some stuff.
The [Northrop N-9M][more] was REALLY cool. I want one! It did a lot of fast, low passes very close to the crowd and wowed everyone. Makes me want to visit [Chino] again!
The B-1 CTF had all of the latest, greatest smartweapons on display - [JDAM], [JSOW], and [JASSM]. [JASSM] is still a bit sensitive to discuss, but they were more than happy to answer my questions. One thing that has bugged me is that in all of the photos of the JASSM and even LockMart's patent on it, you never see the inlet. Turns out it's under the fuselage, right at the wing "fold". I asked if that meant you couldn't start the engine without a good deployment on the folding wings and the crewdog said "Yeah, and the thing drops like a rock when that happens!" Guess they had some bad experiences with that!
I saw the [JSF/X-35] for the first time, and it's apparently made up as the X-35B, with vertical takeoff fan and nozzle installed. Pretty cool, but I don't know if this plane will be an adequate replacement for the A-10, F-16, F-117, F-111, etc. etc. It slices, it dices, it does too much and I wonder if it will do any one thing all that well. I don't know if they are looking at putting external hardpoints on it yet, but they better. Not enough room in there to fight with a good bomb load.
The signs around the base said "F/A-22" already, though the inlet covers on the plane didn't. Odd. And there was a sign for "Global Reach" by the JSF hangars.... interesting. (The study that gave us the X-43 was originally called Global Reach).
The original design for the Global Hawk had been given provisions for wing hardpoints to possibly carry weapons or a decoy at some point, and I looked under the wing and found those - but right now there are strakes under the wing right near there that would rule out putting Mavericks or whatever on there. Odd.
NASA had the new aeroeloastic wing F-18 there.
There was an SR-71 with a "BB" tailcode on display, didn't seem like it was in great shape, and I don't think it was NASA's. On a sidenote, the B-52 CTF plane had very OLD nose art on an otherwise new paintjob that said "Tagboard Launcher" with a cartoon of the B-52 tossing a D-21. So I guess that was one of the old B-52's involved with the D-21 TAGBOARD program.
LAPD Air was there with some cool hats and T-shirts, and an A-Star on display. Boring though.
About half the big hangar was set up with stalls selling all kinds of very random stuff like "HAND PAINTED BACK SCRATCHERS!". And candles and stuff. VERY odd. And again this year, no ATMs around (I was told they were pulled at the last minute because of a security problem).
Sitting in traffic on the way in, I passed a storage area filled with various refuse- but a trailer of some kind FILLED with SRAM shapes. Who knows, they might be live. Too large to put on my car though I'm afraid. Peter could probably find me something smaller for a reasonable price though! I think he visits Palmdale scrap sales regularly looking for things like that.
Since I missed about 4 hours or so of the flying, I probably missed a lot of cool stuff, but what can you do, right?
So that's about it. Completely meaningless if you aren't a plane nut. [ 10/26/2002 08:50:14 PM ] [  ]