PALMDALE, CALIFORNIA is a great place for the aviation enthusiast.
Nearby is Edwards Air Force Base and Mojave Airport - home of the Burt Rutan company
Scaled Composites, Inc., maker of the "Voyager." They are currently working on the multiple use high altitude Proteus. For more info on this very interesting company, click here.
Also based at the airport is a civilian test pilot school and a large aircraft storage
facility. In Palmdale, Plant 42 is where Boeing, Northrop and Lockheed are located.
The valley also provides some of nation's best soaring and Great Western Soaring at
Crystaire Airport in nearby Llano is where you go.
is home to the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.
Currently they are modifying a Blackbird to test a ten percent, half-span model of the
Linear Aerospike engine that will be used to power the first test series of the X-33. The
program named LASRE stands for Linear Aerospike SR-71 Experiment. This engine was
recently started with propellants for only the second time at Air Force Phillips Labs.
On May 4, 1998 a successful in-flight cold flow test was accomplished. The first flight is scheduled for March 1, 1999. The
LASRE program has its own page now at: http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/SR-71-LASRE/index.html
At NASA Dryden Flight Research Center the aerospike has been mated with
the center's SR-71 research aircraft and prepared for the first ever firing of the engine
in flight. They also recently successfully launched the X-38 on its first flight. The
Dryden Research facility is located about 30 minutes from here at Edwards Air Force Base.
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in Palmdale won the $941 million Contract to build the
prototype next-generation space shuttle X-33, which the company calls VentureStar.
Rockwell, also located here just finished updating the space shuttle Endeavor. B-2 bombers
are manufactured here by the Northrop Grumman plant. Here are some nice B-2
Palmdale is the home of the world's fastest pilot, Maj. William J.
"Pete" Knight. On October 3, 1967 Pete took the X-15A-2 to an altitude of
67 miles (354,200 feet) with a top speed of 4,520 mph which translates to a mach of
6.72! The altitude and speed records still stand. He was awarded the Harmon
International Aviators Trophy from President Johnson in 1968 and was inducted into the
National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1988. Pete can still be seen regularly throughout
the valley. He is currently serving in the California Senate for District 17.
Rotary Rocket Co. is constructing a
4.5 acre multi-million dollar complex at Mojave Airport. They will be constructing
the Roton rocket, a spacecraft designed to carry a single satellite into space and launch
again within a day. Scaled Composites Inc. has
just started working on the kerosene fuel tank that will be used on the rocket. The
Roton is one of several private and government efforts under way to build cheap, reusable
spacecraft to replace the costly space shuttle.
Standing 64 feet high and 22 feet wide, the vertical rocket initially will be used to
place tele-communications satellites in low orbit, one at a time. Satellite
customers will pay about $7 million per flight compared with the current $50 million
average for satellite launches and $500 million to fly a space shuttle.
|This is a picture of the first F-22 during its first test flight at Edwards Air
Force Base on May 17, 1998. The F-22 is widely regarded as the most advanced fighter
in the world, combining a revolutionary leap in technology and capability with reduced
support requirements and maintenance costs. It is destined to replace the aging F-15 as
Americas front-line air superiority fighter, with deliveries beginning in 2002.
The F-22s combination of stealth, integrated avionics, maneuverability, and
supercruise (supersonic flight without afterburner) will give Raptor pilots a first-look,
first-shot, first-kill capability against the aircraft of any potential enemy. This
information and photo were found at the Edwards home page. See the F-22
for yourself on October 3, 1998 at the Edwards Open House. This will be the public's
first viewing opportunity. Here is the press release.
- Cam view of valley and other Antelope