Edwards Air Force Base drips history. It was here that Chuck Yea ger first broke the sound barrier in October 1947 (an achievemenl that was kept classified for several months), followed by a series ol speed and altitude records set in experimental aircraft ranging from the X-2 to the X-15. The first aircraft to reach 100,000, 200,000, and 300,000 feet altitude all flew out of Edwards. The exploits of its early test pilots were immortalized in the book and film The Right Stuff. II was later the site of the first Space Shuttle landings. And it’s still home to a variety of classified programs.
Edwards was first chosen as a site for aircraft tests because ol two dry lake beds, Rogers Lake and Rosamond Lake, that make superb natural landing strips. Originally known as Muroc Field, it was re named for Capt. Glen Edwards, a test pilot killed there in 1948. In ad dition to the dry lake beds, most days at Edwards are clear with excellent visibility. Edwards occupies over 301,000 acres.
Edwards California Map Photo Gallery
Wliat’sThere: Edwards is home to the Air Force Flight Test Center, which i • ii’sponsible for all aircraft flight testing for the Air Force. The Air Inrce Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate, NASA’s Dryden i lirJil Research Center, the Air Force Test Pilot School, and the Marine Am raft Group 46 all have operations here. In addition, it can be safely iv.mned that many black projects are located here.
Huy Facilities: The key facilities here are natural the two dry lakes.
One of the more puzzling sightings has been of irregular, cloud objects being paced by conventional aircraft. Speculation has it Uinst! objects may be tests of new daytime stealth “cloaking” technol-
In addition to such relatively “normal” sightings of unknown air there continue to be scattered reports of slow-moving lights in hm.I .uound Edwards, especially over the mountains to the west. These lii hi-, .ire often described as being gold in color, completely silent, uml appear to be football-shaped when viewed through binoculars. fiiirJitness can vary over the period they are visible. These lights often ctlnuplly appear in an otherwise dark sky and vanish just as abruptly, fcnmnlimes several of these lights will be seen at once and will move in iilinnment with each other.
This areas over which these lights are seen have three radar Crosslin Hon (RCS) ranges designed to test how visible objects are on radar, tin. is a strong clue these objects are involved in some way with developing and testing of new stealth technologies. Their shape and “glow” indicate they may also be tests of electroluminescent surfaces that would be used in daytime stealth; the electroluminescent surfaces would change color to match the background color of the sky. Since the objects producing these lights appear to be small, they are likely models or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) instead of manned aircraft.
There are some people who are convinced these lights are actually UFOs being tested at Edwards. I disagree, but who knows?
Getting a Look Inside: Edwards is surprisingly accessible during the day time.
The Air Force Flight Test Center Museum has on display a replica of the X-l (the first supersonic airplane), the X-25, the first F-16, an F-l 11, and a B-52. It also has a gift shop! The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and admission is free. However, you must call in advance to request “sponsorship” before entering Edwards. The number for “sponsorship” is (661) 277-8050. Visitors who are not American citizens must apply at least three week:, in advance.
Weekly guided bus tours were scheduled at the time this book was being written each Friday at 10 a.m. The tour is free and photography is permitted at selected locations. Tour reservations can be made by calling (661) 277-3517.
An “open house” is held at Edwards annually, usually on the last weekend of October. At this time, the public is invited on base and can wander freely within limited boundaries. Aircraft are on display, and there are also air shows and flight demonstrations. However, the base is highly “sanitized” during this open house and your chances of seeing anything classified or otherwise secret is nil.
Getting There: Edwards is located 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles and about 20 miles east of Rosamond. From Highway 14, take the Rosamond exit and continue east on Rosamond Boulevard. An alternate route is to take the 120th Street exit from Highway 58.