(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)
Where? Edwards AFB, California
Flight Test Nation 2009 astounded 225,000 visitors from across the world as they got the opportunity to see some of the nation's newest aircraft along with various historical ones. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the X-15, FTN-09 was the first Air Show hosted by Team Edwards since 2006.
To kick off the aerial demonstrations, famed X-15 pilot, Maj. Gen. Joe Engle and the first person to break the sound barrier, Brig. Ben. Chuck Yeager, broke the sound barrier in two F-16 Fighting Falcons
Opening Flight - Sonic Boom with 2x F-16
"The public was exposed to what I believe was the greatest collection of aircraft ever amassed at an Air Show," said General Eichhorn. "The F-35 Lightening II made its Air Show debut! The White Knight II flew by and was put on static display next to it older brother White Knight I. National Test Pilot School at Mojave brought over some of their aircraft and Global Hawk was basking in the public glow as well. There was a long line of people to go through the NASA SOPHIA Boeing 747. All this and our regular stable of aircraft which includes (F-22) Raptors, (T-38) Talons, (F-16) Vipers, BUFFs, BONEs, (B-2) Spirits, (F/A-18) Hornets, (F-15) Eagles, etc, etc, etc. All Edwards has to do to have a great show is open the hangar doors but we did so much more!"
Combined with the gorgeous blue sky the aerial demonstrations of the USAF's Solo Display Teams were a great treat, and of course the great formation - the Air Force Flight Test Center fly by - of the Edwards-based test aircraft was THE highlight of the show, closing the event, which featured various aircraft currently being tested here. It included also a bomber 3-ship formation of B-52, B-1 and the B-2 stealth bomber. Somehow I had the feeling that Edwards is the only place where you get to see a nice top-side pass of the B-2, the only real way to appreciate its astonishing shape.
Edwards Aircraft Formation Fly-By
Additionally to this formation all of the jets were presented well for the take-offs and during some solo fly-bys or the formation breaks. The F-22A Raptor, the USAF's newest jet fighter asset, also delighted the crowd with a stunning performance, showing of its engine power and manouverability.
F-22A Raptor flight display
B-2A Spirit Fly-by
... & landing
B-52 "BUFF" take-off
B-1 & B-52
C-17 Globemaster III Demo
C-17 & C-130
KC-135 & T-38 Talon
F-16 / F-22
Headlining the event was the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team and Tora! Tora! Tora!, a reenactment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Another big part in the flying was also the USAF Heritage Flight, featuring a 4-ship formation of a F-22, A-10, F-16 and P-38 Lightning. All of the aircraft were also flown as solo demos, always finsihing with a nice photo pass at the end of their displays ginving a good photo opportunity.
US Army Golden Knights
A-10 West Coast Demo Team
F-16C West Coast Demo Team
USAF Heritage Flight
WW II Warbirds: Tora Tora Tora! & B-17
P-51 & 'Zeros'
RQ-4B Global Hawk, only to be seen on the ground...
The civil highlight og the day was the presence of both Scaled Composites aicraft, the White Knight and White Knight II. These futuristic aircraft flew in from the nearby Mojave airport, home of the company's flight activitites. Presenting the future of civil space flight both jets added very well to the already overwhelming variety of the aircraft being presented at the show:
Scaled Composites: Whight Knight I & II
Of course an airshow would not be complete without a good static display. Besides the standard helicopter, jet and warbiord displays Edwards always offers an insight in the latest technology programms and future trends. For example this year featured the appearance of the F-35C, and X-47 mock-up, Boeing's X-48B testbed and close up-views of many many more aircraft.
And as if you wouldn't be tired after such a day, there were still some aircraft to discover at the on-base museum during the last rays of the day.
Static Display: B-2 Stealth Bomber up & close
F-35A Lightning II
X-47B mock-up, RQ-4B Global Hawk & RNAF F-16B as F-35 Chase
F-16 Weapon Testing
ED Flight Test Aircraft
Flight Test, Guest & Museum Aircraft
Century Circle & Base Museum
The verdict: Once again an Open House at Edwards proved to be an amazing mix of a clear blue sky and an unmatched variety of stunning aircraft. The next show in two year's is not to be missed!!
Parts of the text have been adopted by the news release on the Edwards AFB website .
Published: 09 November 2009