Stealthy Sighting at MCAS Miramar
Lockheed Skunk Works’ YF-117A Nighthawk prototype first flew on June 18, 1981. Evidently it became operational in 1983, and was publically displayed for the first time on April 21, 1990 at a small event at Las Vegas, Nevada’s Nellis AFB. Including prototypes, sixty-four aircraft were produced.
The jets were originally based at Tonopah Test Range Airport and were moved to Holloman AFB in 1992. Unit lineage began as the 4450th Tactical Group, which was later reorganized as the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing in 1989. When the Wing moved to Holloman AFB in 1992, the F-117 unit was redesignated as the 49th Fighter Wing. A small group of prototypes were operated by the 410th Flight Test Squadron, part of the 412th Test Wing based at Edwards AFB from 1993 to 2008. Officially, the F-117A was retired from the US Air Force in August, 2008. There are still some aircraft which are in flyable storage today, and two recently made an appearance in Southern California.
When debuted, the F-117 wore the tail code TR (suggesting Tonopah Range), and later HO for their Holloman AFB basing. Recent sightings hadn’t noted any tail markings, but Howard German was in the right place at the right time… and filed this latest sighting with us:
“F-117’s, Knight 01 and Knight 02 depart Runway 24 L MCAS Miramar on Oct. 22nd, heading for work on the W-291 Range. After working the range they took on fuel and headed back to home base Tonopah Test Range Airport. Note: the new high contrast ‘TR’ tail code markings.”