Monday, May 16, 2011

Edwards Air Force Base

On May 5th, Ian, Cole and, I went on a wonderful field trip to Edwards Air Force Base. Thankfully our friend set this up because it was quite an experience. EAFB was named in memory of U.S. Air Force test pilot Captain Glen Edwards, who died, along with a crew of five, in 1948 northwest of the base while testing the YB-49 Flying Wing. Muroc Army Air Base was renamed Edwards Air Force Base in 1949.

First, we toured the base in a bus with a very funny and informative tour guide. We learned about the history of the base as well as its current functions and life on the base (they even have a K-12 school there). EAFB spans into three counties: Los Angeles, Kern, and San Bernadino. The land area is about 308,000 acres, which is a little over 481 square miles.

Located there is Rogers Dry Lake. The lakebed has a clay base that spreads out over 44 square miles, making it the largest such geological formation in the world featuring an extremely flat, smooth and concrete-like surface. The lake is not always "dry" but it is much of the time. But because of this amazing lakebed, they are able to have 23 runways - 4 paved and 19 dry lake. The longest runway is approximately 7-1/2 miles long. It is amazing to think of where technology has taken us in the last 101 years since the Corum family settled in this lakebed.

Part of Rogers Dry Lakebed in the distance
The Air Force Flight Test Center at EAFB is the Air Force Material Command Center of Excellence for research, development, and test and evaluation of aerospace systems for the United States and its allies. They aren't kidding when they say flight testing. We saw numerous jets taking off, flying, landing (or missed approaches), as well as being worked on in hangars and various other areas on the ground. EAFB takes security seriously, which is why I don't have any photos while we were on the landing strip - which is too bad because the jets were super cool.

The Flight Test Wing

Next, we were dropped off for a walking tour of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center located at EAFB. This is where they perform flight research and technology integration to revolutionize aviation and pioneer aerospace technology. We learned a lot about their test jets and some of the different things they are testing - not just trying to make a faster jet. This would be a great place to work if you were into planning, building, and experimenting on airplanes.
Checking out NASA with Cole & Ian.

Getting a tour of their hangar.

Cole in front of an F-18 (I think).

Foreign Object Damage Prevention

After lunch, we toured the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum. We enjoyed being out of the hot sun and checking out their displays and the history of flight testing.

Cole in the ejection seat.

Ian in the ejection seat.

Escape capsule
We had a wonderful time and learned so much. It was so great to go on this field trip. Hopefully when Bode is older, we can go again as a family. There is so much to see and learn there. One visit doesn't seem like enough.

Our group of kids at the end of the day.

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