F-117’s final formation fling

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What was possibly the final formation flight of Lockheed Martin F-117 Nighthawks took place on 6 August from Palmdale's US Air Force Plant 42 in California.

After the USAF formally retired the F-117 in ceremonies at Palmdale and Holloman AFB, New Mexico, on 22 April, four of the stealth fighters were kept flying as testbeds by the 410th Flight Test Squadron, and by the end of July only two of the aircraft remained. According to Lockheed, one was to be flown to storage at Tonopah on the 7 July, and the final aircraft will leave on the type's last flight on 14 August.

f-117 formation
 © Alan Radecki

With the closing of this chapter in aviation and flight-test history, the 410th FLTS has also been inactivated, with closing ceremonies held at Plant 42 on 1 August. While Lockheed built and maintained the flight-test aircraft assigned to Palmdale, the 410th performed the test activities over 27 years and more than 8,000 of flight hours. Squadron commander Lt Col Dwayne Opella says: "I wish we would have stayed open longer, but it is time to go."