Edwards AFB Air Show 2022

After an absence of 13 years, Edwards AFB re-opened its doors to the public over the weekend of October 15/16, 2022.

Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of both Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier and the formation of the United States Air Force, heavy emphasis was placed on both of these items.

Certainly, the breaking of the sound barrier was well-marked over both days, with several sonic booms being heard, including a demonstration of how altering the profile of the angle of attack and the shape of the aircraft could significantly reduce the volume of the ‘boom’, which is the approach that will be investigated with NASA using the Lockheed Martin X-59, starting in 2023.

NASA displayed a number of aircraft, both on the ground and flying, including two Grumman Gulfstreams, a Boeing F-15D Eagle, two Boeing F/A18 Hornets, a Beech T-34C Turbo Mentor and an Aeromot AMT-200S Super Ximango.

Highlight of the NASA participation, however, was the appearance of SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy), a highly modified Boeing 747SP. The program finished at the end of September 2022 after 12 years of service but NASA was persuaded to fly her for the Edwards show, making two passes before landing on Saturday, parking in the static and being opened up to the public, before departing on Sunday with two more flyby’s. On each day, one of the passes was made with the telescope door open and the infrared telescope visible to the public – a truly unique photographic opportunity.

The USAF 75th Anniversary celebration was much less in evidence, with the main theme being USAF aircraft through the ages – ranging from the Boeing Stearman, North American P-51 Mustang, North American T-6 Texan (actually an ex Marines SNJ-5) and Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star, though to the current range of aircraft including McDonnell-Douglas C-17 Globemaster III, Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker, Rockwell B-1B Lancer, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

The USAF Display Team, The Thunderbirds were of course present in their General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The ‘home’ team gave a spirited demonstration of ground support, using the F-16, F-22, F-35, B-1B, KC-135R and C17.

A number of civilian aircraft were also present.

As ever with Edwards AFB, photography is difficult, with the main display line being into the sun, although the performers did come pretty close to the crowd line. There were quite a few banked passes, giving excellent topside views of aircraft. Additionally, US airshows always make photographing the static display aircraft challenging, with the number of stands and the ability of the public to take much-needed shelter from the sun under the wings of the aircraft.

My thanks go to Chase Kohler, Chief of Media, Operations & Plans at 412th Test Wing / Plant 42 Public Affairs and his team for affording me an Enhanced Photography Pass, allowing early access to the base on Saturday and Sunday, as well as access to the dedicated photography ‘pits’ at each end of the crowd line.

NASA Aircraft

USAF Thunderbirds

USAF Flying

Civil Flying