FlightGlobal F117’s April 21st 2008 retirement.
United States Air Force F-117 webpage.
From the Flightglobal website
They will then fly to Tonopah airfield in remote Nevada, where the F-117s were flown secretly and only at night until the stealth fighter’s existence was publicly acknowleged in November 2008.
eh? Obviously a typo…
This is weird, it seems like a new state of the art aircraft, but the first ones are in their 20’s! It’s really weird to think that they’re going to be retired.
I guess we probably won’t see any of these as members of the Commemorative Air Force eh?
Which part do think is a typo
Probably the part where I posted twice!!
After re-re-re-reading it, I see what they’re saying, but when I read it initially, it sounded like they said that the F-117 was publicly acknowledged in NOV 2008. Maybe should’ve gone something like, in November 2008 they will be flown to…where they were…
if that aircraft was being worked on in 1977 what do you think they have at Area 51 now???
I bet its some spooky stuff
No doubt! Now we “know” about stealth, thrust vectoring, flying wings, supercruise etc etc…but stealth was being worked on in what, the early 60’s with the SR-71 to an extent, the flying wing is 40’s technology in a sense, so yeah the stuff we learn about 10 years from now that’s being developed now or for the last few years is probably un-imaginable!
Exactly the reason there are the series of enclosed hangers at Tonopah…to hide such “developments” from the prying eyes of satellites.
The last F-117A Night Hawk Retired Yesterday
By Peter Pae, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 23, 2008
Not everyone missed out on Tuesday’s top-secret passing of one of the world’s most mysterious aircraft.
Gareth Goetz, an Anaheim mortgage broker, was one of 100 cheering aviation buffs who gathered in Palmdale at a makeshift viewing spot just outside the gates of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s defense plant.
Many in the crowd drove hours to catch a view of the last four F-117A Night Hawk stealth fighter jets in the nation’s arsenal as they made their final flight before heading off for mothballing at a desert base in Nevada.
Because the F-117A’s stealth technology is still considered classified, the public was not allowed to attend a private retirement ceremony inside the base.
The Pentagon attempted to keep even the last flight top secret, much the way the plane has flown since it was conceived 30 years ago.
So the crowd employed a stealth maneuver of its own and met just outside the western edge of the complex to catch a peek.
“That was incredible,” said Goetz, who drove two hours to watch the less than one-minute takeoff. “I have some free time these days, so I wanted to see the last flight. It’s historic.”
In an early afternoon ceremony, the crowd looked on in silence as the black kite-like planes took off one by one, led by a jet whose undercarriage was painted with the American flag. Each fighter flew over a throng of about 100 cheering aviation buffs who had gathered at a makeshift viewing spot just outside the base. In formation, the planes then circled back and flew overhead before heading east to their final resting spot.
The send-off began shortly after 1,000 former and current employees of Lockheed Martin’s famed Skunk Works held a tribute to the aircraft they had developed, built and maintained, virtually all shrouded in secrecy.
“It’s now time to say farewell, farewell to an old friend,” said George Zielsdorff, Lockheed’s vice president for the F-117A program, as employees signed their names on the bomb bay doors of the four planes parked in front of Building 601. Inside sat the next generation of stealth fighter jets, F-22 Raptors. With the introduction of the F-22, the Pentagon decided to retire the F-117As in 2006.
Beginning in 1981 and until 1990, Lockheed assembled 59 Night Hawks, most of them in total secrecy, in a hanger next to the Burbank airport. Later, Lockheed continued to upgrade the fleet at its complex in Palmdale. The Air Force did not acknowledge the program’s existence until about a decade after the jets began flying.
The single-seat F-117 was the first plane that could evade radar detection. It was designed to fly into heavily defended areas to knock out radar installations and anti-aircraft missile batteries, clearing the way for other fighters and bombers. It was also used to destroy military command and communication centers. During its development, the F-117 flew only at night to avoid prying eyes and Soviet spy satellites, thus its name: Night Hawk.
Reporters who attended Tuesday’s retirement ceremony were kept 75 feet from the planes and were not allowed to go beyond a roped-off area.
The retired fleet will be housed at a high-security base about 140 miles northwest of Las Vegas.