Aerial photos of Edwards AFB North Base

Edwards North Base is a somewhat mysterious and more secure part of Edwards AFB. The primary connection to Area 51 is that the Janet King Airs land here on a more or less regular basis. The base is separated from the main part of Edwards AFB by several miles of desert, making it a perfect location for classified activities that workers at the main base are not cleared for. The FAA identifier for the airfield is "9L2"; the official designation is "Edwards Air Force Auxiliary North Base"

Scroll down or click here for historic information about Edwards North Base from Aviation Historian Peter Merlin and for some historic photos.

The great aerial photos below were taken on Sunday, 10/24/2021 by a photographer who wishes to remain anonymous. We like to thank the anonymous supporter for allowing us to share these great close-up photos.

View of Edwards North Base, looking NW. The ramp area is in the foreground by the lakebed; the single runway 06/24 in the back

The large red-topped hangar on the left has a lot of history from the first U.S. jet aircraft to the U-2 (CIA Detachment G). It is now used as an aircraft restoration facility by the Air Force Flight Test Museum. All of the aircraft you see on the nearby parking ramps belong to the museum. From left to right are the F-16XL-2, Shuttle Training Aircraft, T-34, TB-26B (Calspan flying simulator), B-47B, C-7 Caribou, YA-7F, F-10B Skyknight, and RQ-4A Global Hawk. The slender tan building next to the red hangar is the Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force.

This area is the secure compound that used to house the Red Hats (6513th Test Sq) and later the 413th FLTS. It eventually became EW Directorate - North Base, and also supports the Beech 1900 flights from Groom and TTR. This area is secured by its own perimeter fence and a guard gate. Special access badges are required here.

Different angle views of the above secure facility

The North Base fire station located next to the taxiway between the two facilities above
View of North Base looking west with most of runway 06/24 in the frame

This photo shows the old NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) rocket engine test area and a newer red roofed building that used to be the 18th Space Surveillance Squadron. It was later used by the security forces. The North Gate is visible in the background with the NB-52B parked nearby. There are at least two crash sites in this photo: a T-33 that was based at Watertown until being transferred to North Base with jet G and a U-2D.
Closer look at the 18th Space Surveillance Squadron building

Edwards North Base History

By Peter Merlin

While the airbase on the southern portion of Rogers Dry Lake (designated Muroc Army Air Field in November 1943) provided fighter and bomber crews with training before overseas deployment, a second airfield began to take shape on the north end of the lakebed. In 1942, at the direction of the Materiel Center at Wright Field, Ohio, a facility called Muroc Flight Test Base was established for secret testing of advanced aircraft and weapons, including the first U.S. jet airplanes – the Bell XP-59A Airacomet and the Lockheed XP-80 Shooting Star.

Operations at Muroc FTB were completely separate from those at Muroc AAF. The Santa Fe railroad track physically divided the lakebed, and pilots from the training base were discouraged from flying near the test facility. Observers gazing at the almost perpetually blue skies over Muroc would have seen a menagerie of aerial machines including Northrop’s exotic flying wings, Vultee’s XP-54 Swoose Goose, the Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster pusher-prop bomber, and Consolidated-Vultee’s XP-81, America’s first turboprop.

Efforts to develop the Muroc base into a major test installation began in December 1943 when Capt. Nathan R. “Rosie” Rosengarten, a flight test engineer on the XP-59A program, wrote to his superiors at Wright Field about the advantages of concentrating flight test operations at Muroc FTB. They agreed with his suggestion and expanded it to include a recommendation that responsibility for the entire Muroc complex, both north and south bases, be transferred to Air Materiel Command as a dedicated flight test center.

In April 1946, the Army Air Forces ended training activities at Muroc and the base on the south end of the lakebed was merged with Muroc FTB and designated a research and development center. It was renamed Muroc Air Force Base on February 12, 1948, following establishment of the U.S. Air Force. In December 1949, Muroc became Edwards Air Force Base, named in honor of the late Capt. Glen W. Edwards following his death in the crash of an experimental flying wing bomber prototype, the YB-49A.

Aerial View of North Base 1952
U-2R Fleet at North Base

XP-59A in North Base hangar

Historic North Base building map

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