Thursday, June 4, 2009

Patriotic Nighthawk

By far the highlight of the 2005 Edwards AFB Open House was the farewell flight of Lockheed's F-117 Nighthawk, serial number 782. A preproduction, Full Scale Development (FSD) aircraft, 782 was the oldest F-117 still flying at that time (the fleet has since been withdrawn from service and mothballed, farmed out to museums or cut into very small pieces). In 2005, however, 782 was earmarked to be sent to Holloman AFB, NM, to be converted to a maintenance trainer. But she was not going without a spectacular encore. In 1983, at the height of program secrecy, 782 performed a fly-over at the F-117 unit's change-of-command ceremony, where the Secretary of Defense was in attendance. As 782 streaked over the dignitaries and personnel, she turned her belly to the crowd and revealed a specially painted, nose-to-tail American flag. In honor of that legendary moment, the American flag scheme was recreated for her farewell flight, to the gasps and cheers of the Edwards spectators. Days after the Open House, the special markings were removed and 782 flew down to Holloman into retirement.

1 comment:

  1. Seems a shame to me they got retired after such a short time, at least when compared to the F-15, F-16, and of course the B-52.

    I seem to recall a Serbian SAM operator shot one down, rumors of radar tricks to see it (like backscatter radar). Rumors abound about this guy traveling and giving F117 shoot down seminars to foreign powers. Then suddenly retirement. Did the 117 become vulnerable? Its a mystery to me.