Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A day at “Edwards AFB”

Yes, we were up bright and early, wanted to get to Edwards in time for the 9:00 a.m. tour!

P1250237

Right off the top, there were two big things I did not understand about Edwards…  First, this is a flight test centre, not a functional Air Force Base.  They have completed 1st. test flights for over 100 aircraft since the 1950’s… this is why the sign above says “Testing the Future Today!”

We got parked in the parking lot, and as you can see the fun was beginning right away!

P1250239

The second thing I did not know, was that NASA has a very large presence on Edwards, with the Dryden Flight Research Centre.  They also have the capability to land the Space Shuttle here when the weather is bad in Florida.

Below is a F104 A on display from the 50’s… it could fly at 1,400 mph!

P1250246

This display is set up before you hit the main gate.  We parked here, and they came and picked up the tour group of about 40 people with a bus.

P1250256

This is a new military heavy lift plane taking off, cannot remember the name, but is still being tested.  Very strict rules on what I could take pictures of.  If the plane was in the air like the one below, it was fair game.  If it was sitting on the tarmac, I would be arrested if I took a picture.  The Tour Group Leader, did take my camera from me at one point, as she thought I had taken an incorrect picture!  She reviewed my pictures and decided I was OK, and would not have to be arrested and shipped back to Canada!  Phewwwwwww…….

P1250265

We picked a great day for the tour, as all kinds of fancy Jet Fighters were taking off constantly and was fun to watch…  the bus took us right down to the Flight Line, and drove right out on the tarmac and we got to watch the planes come and go.  A lot of them were doing touch and go take offs… yup, you guessed it, I cannot show you one picture of this… the best part of the tour of course!

As we continued up the base to the NASA setup, we passed this 747 sitting on the ground that I managed a pic of.  If you look on the back of the plane you will see brackets… this is the plane they mount the Space Shuttle on to fly it back to Florida for the next launch.  Over the years, many shuttles have landed here, and each flight back cost $1,000,000.00 in fuel for the 747… go figure!

P1250280

Next up was our NASA tour.  NASA does a lot of research, and dreams up new aircraft, and then Edwards Air Force gets to test them… It all happens right here. 

 

P1250317

I took this next picture below off the wall in the reception area at NASA.  It shows the Shuttle on the back of the 747… cool.  Also above the shuttle is the X-15, more on this later.

P1250307

Below is inside the NASA hanger.  They have a lot of experimental aircraft in there, for doing all kinds of test with.  They work hand in hand with the Air Force, but are separate!

P1250321

Here is a NASA F18 fighter…

P1250329

Check it out, below is an actual Michelin Tire off of the Space Shuttle Endeavour that flew into Space and back in 1996.  It was semi bald!

P1250336

Below is an actual tile off the bottom of a space shuttle.

P1250338

We saw a couple fighter pilots walking back from the planes, and this is what they looked like!

P1250340

NASA made a couple of these, the X 15.  It was really fast!  How Fast???  They flew it from over the Pacific Ocean to New York in less than 1 hour!  That is fast!

P1250353

The best part of Edwards for the Military, is the fact they own the Roger’s Dry Lake Bed.  Edwards is right beside it.  You can see the dry lake bed in the picture below.  They have 22 runways at Edwards.  One of them is 7 miles long on the dry lake bed.  They land the shuttle on the dry lake bed.  It is BIG!  No, they would not take us out on the dry lake bed!   It does cover the odd time in the year with water.  Afterwards, they have to go out and repaint the runway lines!

P1250367

We saw history being made today.  They had the new X-47 on the runway.  It is brand new and never has flown.  It is a Stealth Drone that flies without a pilot.  It cost a small fortune, and will be used by the military to make strategic strikes in enemy territory without the risk of human life being lost.  This is TOP SECRET, and I cannot tell you anymore for fear of ….. you know what!

Also we saw a new Joint Task Force Fighter, that is being tested, and will not be in use for another 4 years!  It is top secret also!  Yikes… I know too much for my own good now!  They warned me if I took a picture, I would be going home without my camera!  It will have lots of new gizmos… such as a HUD Display inside the Pilots helmet that give them 360 degree view around the plane in real life… also if they simply look at an intruding plane and hit the button, it will be shot down!

Well it was quite a day… this is only a scratch of what we saw and did!  

It is an amazing place and huge! 

Once in a lifetime, and very enjoyable!  Sorry I could not show you more!

Till tomorrow…

 

7 comments:

  1. thanks for the great tour..too bad about the picture taking rules..but you got some good shots anyway..glad you didn't get shipped back to Canada!!!..not that we don't want you back..just come back on your own terms!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed the tour of Edwards AFB through your words! Perhaps one day I will see it for myself. Fascinating...thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I would enjoy a tour like that as well but it sure would bug me about the 'no pictures' thing. However, I do understand the security concerns. I am surprised cameras were allowed on the base to begin with. I have toured the Davis Monthan base in Tucson & it was nice to have the freedom to wander at will & take lots of photos. Different air base, different priorities & different security of course....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the great tour of Edwards AFB and all the terrific pics you were allowed to take! It must have been pretty exciting seeing all those jets land and takeoff.

    Glad you didn't end up arrested and deported back to the frozen wasteland of Ontario!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. THanks for the tour! It looks totally fascinating and you are very lucky to fit this in ( and your hard work in preparation!) COOL!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting tour ... even without "secret" photos.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

    Wheels Florida

    ReplyDelete