F/A-22 Raptor at Nellis AFB, September 5, 2003
(Download a higher resolution picture by clicking on any picture below.)
I stopped overnight in North Las Vegas near Nellis Air Force Base on my way to Bryce Canyon last Thursday. I spotted a Lockheed-Martin F/A-22 Raptor of the 412th Test Wing on approach to Edwards Air Force Base that morning. I spotted an F/A-22 Raptor of the 53rd Wing's 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron breaking into the Nellis pattern while I was stopped at a red light on Craig Avenue that afternoon.
I found that the Air Force has recently posted signs prohibiting access to the area north of the runways where I used to shoot pictures of the Red Flag exercise participants. Many photographers from all over the world are going to be very unhappy to lose that shooting location. Now the closest shooting locations are along Las Vegas Blvd. The nearest public land that is in line with the runways is two miles farther away. The pool of the Best Western Nellis Motor Inn has a good view of fighters as they break into the right-hand pattern at mid-field.
I heard a jet take off before 7:00 on Friday morning. A short while later I headed to a spot three miles off the north end of the runways to see what was flying. Within fifteen minutes a pair of Boeing-McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagles of the 422nd TES flew over on approach to runway 21. They were followed by a Lockheed-Martin F/A-22 Raptor of the 422nd TES.
There are currently four F/A-22 Raptors assigned to the 422nd TES.
The Eagles and Raptor made several passes around the pattern.
The reflective properties of the surface coating of the Raptor were distinctively different from the usual matte gray finish of the other fighters in the pattern. It will be tricky to reproduce the finish on a scale model.
I managed to try out three shooting locations before the Raptor made its full stop landing. While I wasn't as close to the runway as I used to get, I got some usable pictures in the low angle illumination of the early morning.
The edges of the flight surfaces and the engine inlets are covered in low-observable materials.
You can buy a 2018 calendar featuring my photographs of Lockheed-Martin F/A-22A Raptors at Edwards Air Force Base.
A dozen photos of Lockheed-Martin F/A-22A Raptors at Edwards Air Force Base. Raptors pictured include F-22A Engineering, Manufacture Development (EMD) Raptors, 91-4003, 91-4005, 91-4006, 91-4007, and 91-4009 of the 412th Test Wing and F/A-22A Production Representative Test Vehicle (PRTV) Raptor, 99-4010 of the 53rd Test and Evaluation Group.
Put a copy of the Lockheed-Martin F/A-22A Raptors at Edwards Air Force Base: 2018 Calendar in your Lulu.com shopping cart for $14.95.
Link to the Federation of American Scientists page about the Lockheed-Martin F/A-22 Raptor.
Link to the F/A-22 Raptor Team web site page about Raptors at Nellis.
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