Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mojave 2008 in Review

A look back at the past, rather eventful year at Mojave:

A pair of brand new Sikorsky S-76++s spent New Years 2008 stuck at Mojave due to weather, having taken the southern route on their way from Connecticut to British Columbia.

A Continental 747 N14024 bites the big one, while three of Learjet's latest aircraft gather at the Test Pilot School, waiting for the arrival of a camera ship for some publicity photo flights.

A Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier hovers over the numbers on Runway 8, while Al Hansen's recently-sold TV-star Antonov AN-2 made a few more patterns before leaving Mojave for a new home.

After years of storage, Scaled Composites innovative and somewhat asymmetric ARES reappeared as a testbed, with a very modified belly.

Death and birth: The last Continental 747 at Mojave is reduced to scrap, while Eclipse brought their newest Conceptjet to Mojave for flight testing.

It was birthday time for the Brothers Rutan, as a whole lot of "fast glass" descended on the sweltering Mojave ramp to celebrate. Meanwhile, a piece of the most exotic glass of all, the XCOR Rocket Racer began blasting its way through the sky in dramatic fashion.

In the most anticipated event of the year, Virgin Galactic rolled out their new WhiteKnightTwo prototype, named VMS (for VirginMotherShip) Eve.

Below left: Sir Richard's parents...his mum, Eve, was the inspiration for the plane's name and its nose art. Right: After posing for the press, Branson and Rutan try to squeeze themselves back into WK2.

The hottest month of the summer also hosted several active flight test programs, including the Seven-Q-Seven 707RE STC program to certify the Pratt JT8D-219 for the venerable 707s. Meanwhile, Project CHLOE flew an anti-anti-aircraft missile pod under WhiteKnightOne, in tests aimed at developing a system to protect airliners. In the end, the pods were shown to be impractical.

BAE Systems' QF-4 program continues to produce target drones as planners have begun discussing the next generation of targets, which could include F-16As.

BAE Systems performed the initial flight testing of the Airborne Tomography using Active Electromagnetics (ATAEM) pod, a DARPA-funded project that will use electromagnetic energy to penetrate the ground in order to detect and map hidden bunkers and tunnels, adapting technologies developed by the geophysical exploration industry.

Mojave's annual Veterans' Day celebration was a time of rememberance for all the efforts so many have given to make our country one where the innovation which takes place at Mojave is possible.

Some of the heaviest autumn snow to hit Mojave in years delayed for a couple of days the much-anticipated first flight of WhiteKnightTwo Eve, which finally took place on the first day of winter.

May this next year bring success and prosperity to all who call Mojave home!

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