Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Last F-117s Cruise Mojave Desert Skies

What was possibly the last ever formation flight of Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawks took place this afternoon from Palmdale's Air Force Plant 42. After the Air Force formally retired the F-117 in ceremonies at Palmdale and Holloman AFB on April 22, 2008, four of the stealth fighters were kept flying as testbeds by the Air Force's 410th Flight Test Squadron, and by August, only two of the planes remained. According to a Lockheed Martin spokesperson, one is to be flown to storage at Tonopah tomorrow, and the final aircraft will leave on the type's last flight on Thursday, August 14.

With the closing of this chapter in aviation and flight test history, the 410th FLTS has also been inactivated, with closing ceremonies held at Plant 42 on August 1st. While LM built and maintained the flight test aircraft assigned to Palmdale, the 410th performed the actual flight test activities, over a period of 27 years and more than 8,000 of flight hours. Lt. Col. Dwayne Opella, commander of the 410th, said at the ceremony, "I wish we would have stayed open longer, but it is time to go." There are no farewell celebrations planned for the last flight.

For more information on the 410th, see the USAF news story "410th FLTS 'Baja Scorpions' closes historic chapter".


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