An afternoon in early November 2016 saw me park up at the Boron rest area on Highway 58. This wasn't a comfort break, however. The rest area is located on a 10 mile final for runways 22L and 22R at Edwards Air Force Base. With the sun behind you its a good place to watch and photograph any test aircraft operating out of the base.
For those who don't know, Edwards is the primary location for all USAF test flying, and has been since WW2. Its been massively expanded over the years, and pretty much every major USAF development program has been located at this base at some point.
I had heard rumours of one or more classified programs operating from the South Side of the base, so I thought it was worth an afternoon of my time to stop by.
Unsurprisingly I failed to see any 'Black Projects', but I did see a number of types (all flying that afternoon): B-1, B-2, B-52, KC-10, KC-135, KC-30 (Australian), C-12, F-16, F-22, F-35 and T-38.
Among the highlights of the visit:
- A B-1B leaving a sonic boom while operating in the supersonic corridor to the north of the base, while being chased by a T-38 (also supersonic)
- A B-2A performing a series of missed approaches, with a F-16 chase plane
- B-1B tanking from an Australian Airbus KC-30 to the NW of the base (potential KC-10 replacement?)
- Several returning KC-135R's and a KC-10A using "GHOST" and "SCARY" tactical callsigns. I had been told to look out for these callsigns as they may be connected with current black projects (RQ-180 / B-21 / SR-72?)
- A flight of 3 Raptors returning to base at dusk
Here's a few shots of what I saw that day:
|KC-135R callsign "Arris 99". What have you been tanking?|
|B-2A Spirit, with F-16 chase plane|
|B-2A showing off its unique lines|
|KC-135R 63-7980 "Ghost 22" inbound|
|B-2A turning finals for Runway 22L / R|
|B-52H Stratofortress with it all hanging out|
|KC-135R 61-0320 "Ghost 66" returns from its mission|
|Flight of three F-22A Raptors returning home at dusk|
|B-1B Lancer blasting out at dusk to tank with a RAAF KC-30|