(borrowed mostly from Bakersfield.com)
Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane …
Actually it’s four planes.
Sometime between 12pm and 1pm Friday, students and residents of southern California may want to step outside and turn their eyes skyward.
That’s when they should see a U.S. Air Force flight formation that will include a B-1B Lancer, two F-16 Falcons and a NASA F-18 Hornet streaking low across the sky. It’s all part of the double 70th anniversary celebration happening at Edwards Air Force Base in eastern Kern County on Friday and Saturday, Edwards AFB said in a news release. In the L.A. Basin a second formation will consist of a F-15 Eagle, a F-16 Falcon, a F-22 Raptor, and an F-35 Lightning II.
That’s when the base will celebrate both the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the world’s first supersonic flight. It was Oct. 14, 1947, when a B-29 launch aircraft released the X-1 experimental rocket plane in which test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.
It was also in 1947, on Sept. 18, that the U.S. Air Force officially became a separate branch of the nation’s military. Previously, the U.S. Army Air Forces — and before that, the Army Air Corps — were still officially part of the U.S. Army.
Friday’s flyovers are part of the 412th Test Wing’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outreach to area schools. And organizers provided a list of local schools along the flight path — area campuses the aircraft are scheduled to fly over.
Both flights paths will be at an altitude low enough for easy viewing by the public, and will take place between noon and 1 p.m., said an Edwards spokesman.
The largest of the planes, by far, will be the Rockwell-manufactured B-1B.
Nicknamed “The Bone,” the Lancer is a long-range, multi-mission, supersonic conventional bomber, which has served the U.S. Air Force since 1985, according to Boeing’s website. The other three aircraft in the formation will be much smaller fighter jets.
The flights are part of a two-day event — an Edwards AFB Family Day on Friday and a Run with History event Saturday — that mark both the 70th anniversary of supersonic flight and the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday.
At 11 a.m. Friday, a ceremony on-base will pay homage to the milestone flight made seven decades ago. Yeager, 94, is expected to be present during the event, and retired Brig. Gen. Robert Cardenas, who flew the B-29 that carried the X-1 aloft, will speak during the ceremony. An as-yet unidentified astronaut from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, which is located at Edwards, is also expected to speak.