Monday, January 7, 2013

Code Name "Senior Trend”

A stealthy story about Lockheed’s Nighthawk
by James W.

I had a 35-year career at Lockheed, with the majority of years supporting Skunk Works projects that used their mainframe computer. Until 1994, Skunk Works projects were performed in multiple buildings in Burbank, California, alongside the Hollywood-Burbank Airport. That is where I worked and where the classified F-117A stealth fighter was designed and manufactured.
One of the challenges was to get the completed F-117A fighters out of Burbank without anyone seeing them. Since there are no commercial flights in or out of the airport from approximately 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. the next morning, it was decided to fly them out inside the belly of a C-5A Galaxy. Sometime after midnight on the scheduled night, all of the airport lights were turned off, a C-5A landed and the F-117 fighters (in multiple pieces) were loaded into the plane. Then the plane would take off and fly out well before the sun came up and the airport reopened for business. Of course the airport “neighbors” knew something unusual and hush-hush was going on because the four giant C-5A engines made a very loud, deep and menacing sound when the plane took off. But they did not know!