Lockheed-Martin X-35B Joint Strike Fighter at Air Force Plant 42: July 3, 2001
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The Lockheed-Martin X-35A Joint Strike Fighter made its first flight from Palmdale to Edwards AFB on October 24, 2000. After initial tests at Edwards AFB in the conventional take-off configuration, it returned to Palmdale on November 22. Since then it has been equipped with a lift fan and vectored thrust nozzle for short take-off/vertical landing tests in support of the Marine Corps variant of the JSF. Its new configuration is designated the X-35B.
I learned that the departure of the X-35B was scheduled for 10:30 AM on July 3, so hit the road for Palmdale at 7:30. I was at 40th and O, next to runway 25/07, by 10:05. There were already several cars parked along the road. I pulled over and parked at the end of the line. I got out my airshow chair with the umbrella mounted on it and set it up under the shade of the hatch back. I turned on the scanner and selected the band with the Palmdale frequencies. While I waited, a few other airplanes used runway 25 to parctice touch-and-go landings and missed approaches.
NASA Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F/A-18B Hornet, N852NA. Its Navy BuNo is 161217.
It was going on 11:00 when one of the observers received a phone call from his wife that the launch had been delayed for an hour. At that news, all of the other vehicles left. I settled into my airshow chair with my Aviation Week Magazine to wait. I'm pretty sure that the temperature exceeded 100 degrees fahrenheit in the shade.
Lockheed-Martin F-16D Block 50D, 91-481 of the 412th Test Wing based at Edwards AFB.
After a little while a man in a blue pickup pulled over and asked about a blond lady in a white Camaro. He said to tell her that the take-off probably wouldn't get happen until 12:30.
Boeing KC-135R, 59-1523 of the 92nd Bomb Wing based at Fairchild AFB, Washington. 59-1523 was once a KC-135Q, configured to handle JP-7 fuel for the Lockheed SR-71A.
People started to arrive back after the better part of an hour. It was getting really hot.
A little while after 1:00 PM on July 3 a pair of white and orange Lockheed-Martin F-16B Fighting Falcons from the 412th Test Wing based at Edwards AFB showed up over Palmdale. They made two circuits around the airfield. As they approached on the second pass, the distinctive whine of the X-35B's jet engine was audible.
The X-35B lifted off the runway.
The X-35B did not climb out as rapidly as it had on its first take-off last October. The vertical stabilizer has been painted with the "Hat in the Ring" insignia against a bright red triangle.
The JSF prototype turned immediately to the north after taking off. "STOVL" appears in yellow on the rudders.
Animated GIF of Lockheed-Martin X-35B departing Palmdale on July 3, 2001.
The F-16Bs from Edwards AFB joined formation with the X-35B.
Lockheed-Martin X-35B, 301 and F-16B chase plane over Palmdale on July 3, 2001.
The X-35B was followed closely by a Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B Harrier. The Harrier will be used as a chase plane because it can hover.
I think the temperature was 110 in Palmdale that day. The headline on the papers in the newspaper rack announced that it had been that hot the day before..
Link to Lockheed-Martin's JSF Photo Gallery.
Read Lockheed-Martin's JSF press releases.
Visit the Air Force X-35 Program Page.
Read the Lockheed-Martin press release about the first flight of the X-35A
The Lockheed-Martin X-35 Joint Strike Fighter demonstrator took off on its first flight from Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, California on the morning of October 24, 2000. It returned to Palmdale on November 22. It was then equipped with a lift fan and vectored thrust nozzle for short take-off/vertical landing tests as the X-35B. The Lockheed-Martin X-35B vertical take-off prototype flew from Palmdale to Edwards AFB on July 3, 2001. The first Lockheed-Martin F-35A Lightning II, AA-1 completed air-start and noise tests at Edwards Air Force Base on Thursday October 23, 2008. It returned to Fort Worth on October 24.
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Joint Strike Fighter : Boeing X-32 Vs Lockheed Martin X-35 (Enthusiast Color Series) by Bill Sweetman
Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker : More Than Just a Tanker by Robert S. Hopkins III
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