Trip Report from Edwards/Plant 42, November 2010
by Hankmann

Click to enlargeStarting at Plant 42, we headed down Sierra Highway to snap a pic of the Skunkworks logo:

Next traveled to Lockheed Way to capture a few pics of the F-104 and F-16 NASA planes on display at the main gate. While there, a traffic jam of sorts at the guard gate shortened the stop and also prevented good shots of the F-16. So, another future trip will be required, lol.

After this stop we headed for Edwards Air Force Base. Would've done more driving around Plant 42, but the time of the year being fall doesn't provide enough daylight hours to do what I want to do. So rather than waste time in Palmdale, we took off for Edwards.

Arriving at the main road, main sign, pics had to be taken!

From here it was a 15 minute drive to the Century Circle display of aircraft. The following is a sampling of photos from there, the full amount of photos will be uploaded to the gallery in a day or two.

After roughly and hour here, most of the time snapping pics, also listening to the jets taking off and the loudspeakers on base rambling about a security drill, got back into the truck and reviewed very detailed maps to locate the abandoned planes south and east of the dry lake. Guess I am more anal than I think, or have realized planning is everything, so I handed my buddy a map that listed all the planes from west to east with GPS points. I selected the first stop on my gps that I had pre-loaded back in Cleveland and off we went.

Click to enlargeLet me say this about GPS units. They are great 95% of the time. The other 5% leave you hanging and lost far worse than if you had the old paper map. Luckily I can find my way around without needing maps or gps, so when the GPS started wigging out because we were on roads that weren't there, it wasn't too much of an issue.

Coming up on location #1 the paved road to it was now fenced off, this is to the B-47 just to the west of the B-52s. There is a large post in the middle of the road and barbed wire stretching west and east from it. So on to #2, "Snoopy".

The fencing continued, un broken up to the parking area that was there. Two large concrete barriers were placed blocking access and more barbed wire was found. No longer is there a way around or over the concrete blocks. From here you can also see the tops of the B-52s off to the east, north east.

So, getting the ugly feeling that this is going to a wasted trip as far as abandoned aircraft spotting goes.

Making the curve on Mercury to the left, watching the fencing follow the road, I am getting ticked off. Hey, I'm honest! 1/2 mile from the curve the fence disappears. 1/2 mile later or so I spot location #4, plane #5 glimmering in the sunlight with the dry lake and the base in the background.

No fence, no concrete blocks, no signs in close proximity to the dirt road leading to the aircraft!

Looking to the west at the other locations, hoping to see access from here to at the very least the B-52s, all that could be seen is the barbed wire fencing running through the foreground between here and there. Only way to get to them seems to be driving on the dry lake bed, something I was not willing to do seeing as there were plenty of "Dry Lake Bed Access Prohibited" signs everywhere.

Proceeding to location #5, plane #6 hoping that this dirt road would be accessible as it leads to 5 other planes. As the GPS unit counted down the mile, then feet it quickly became clear all I would capture this day was the one aircraft.

Not sure where or when the barbed wire fencing began, but it was there. Also there across the road was a cattle gate with two signs on it stating "Edwards Bombing Ranges, No Access". It was padlocked, not that it made a difference as the gate alone was enough to scratch the list for me.

So we continued along Mercury stopping to take pictures of the base buildings.

A couple of white F-16s or T-38s were doing flybys near the base, I am leaning towards T-38s from hearing the jets taking off at Century Circle, but can't be for sure either way.

After about 30 minutes of watching them fly around, also watching the shadows creeping up from the west, we left Edwards. Will be making a return trip hopefully next summer and spend more time in the area.

China Lake, Mojave Space Port, Lemoore NAS were all spots missed on this trip and ones that will be on the next trip to Edwards for sure.

Fort Irwin seemed to be holding a large training exercise. While driving through, there was a convoy of 20 vehicles traveling towards the base on a side road and another convoy of about the same size parked about 5 miles from the first. Nothing special about the vehicles, Hummers and small cargo trucks.

For more photos please visit my blog:

http://www.blog.hankplumley.com/

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