Edwards to give public upfront view

first_imgEDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE – Supporters of the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum marked the start Tuesday of a project to bring some of its historic aircraft closer to the public. Dubbed the “Century Circle,” a new aircraft display area is being established adjacent to the base tour parking lot right outside of Edwards’ west gate. The area will be home to the “Century Series” of aircraft – the North American F-100 Super Sabre, the McDonnell Douglas F-101 Voodoo, the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger, the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, the Republic F-105 Thunderchief and the Convair F-106 Delta Dart. The aircraft will be placed in a circle with the cab of the old base control tower serving as a central focal point. The display, which supporters hope will be finished this summer, is part of an effort to make Edwards’ rich history more accessible to the public. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, access to the base has been tightened, limiting access to the base’s museum and putting the base’s public tour program on hold. Public tours resumed last summer. “If we can’t get the public in to see us, we have to get ourselves out to see the public,” said Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, commander of the base. The Flight Test Historical Foundation, a nonprofit organization, is spending $200,000 for the construction of the display area. “The big thing is accessibility. They (visitors) can get to this without going through security at the gate,” and Gary Aldrich, chairman of the foundation’s board. The aircraft were among the nation’s earliest supersonic fighters. The flight testing of the airplanes were part of the base’s golden age, a period running roughly from the late ’40s to the late ’60s that featured a slew of new and experimental aircraft filling the Antelope Valley skies. All but one of the aircraft, the F-100, are ready for display after work by volunteers. The F-100 is currently being refurbished by the volunteers. The foundation also plans a Heritage Walk, which will have paving stones that aircraft fans can purchase and have names engraved. The foundation used engraved paving stones once before as a fundraising mechanism when they were offered for sale in the 1990s for the Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale. The foundation and base officials also envision an aircraft display near the base’s north gate off of Highway 58. That display would feature larger aircraft, including a B-52. [email protected] (661) 267-5743160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more