While at the Saxon Air Force Museum in Boron, California, we met an awesome couple whose names escape me since it was over a month ago. We began talking, and I mentioned I would love a tour of Edwards Air Force Base. We were told that public tours were no longer offered since 9/11, and the on-base museum was closed and collecting dust. I must have given a disappointed look, because he offered to give us a private tour of the base. My eyes lit up like a Christmas Tree, and Lydia decided she would go with me early the next morning.
We arrived the next morning looking forward to seeing some history making aircraft, and facilities that are very important to our National Defense system. We were filled with information on the ride from Boron to the entrance of the base, we drove for miles along the border of the base and Lydia wondered if we would ever get there. We made it through the security checkpoint without a hitch (not that I was expecting a problem) and drove over to some of the first aircraft we were able to see on display outside the NASA buildings.
We walked around these planes, Lydia was surprised how large they were in person, she would be in for a big surprise when we got closer to some a few minutes later. We drove from the NASA buildings over to the Chuck Yeager Memorial, and Lydia posed for a picture. He might have made a good grouchy Hobbit based on his size and a description of his personality. We drove from the memorial to the Machine Shop, where I had to take a picture of Lydia with a Hyster Forklift since I spent 7 years designing special options for these exact pieces of machinery. I wish I could have taken pictures in the repair hanger where a row of B-52’s were lined up along with several other aircraft. We were able to walk through the tire supply area and see tires up close for all types of aircraft. When we left the machine shop, we drove to the other end of the base where we were able to see the remains of the Extended High Speed Test Tracks.
We drove around the base to see the X-1 Loading Pit, this is where the X-1 plane was loaded onto the belly of the larger plane that dropped it. The X-1, piloted by Chuck Yeager, was the first plane to break the sound barrier. There are plans to fill this pit in so there will be a little more concrete in the parking lot, it is a shame pieces of history like this are not thought of as important anymore. We drove around to another facility where I couldn’t take pictures and walked around several large planes and saw where they did fire training on the base. Then we made it to the outside of the museum on the base where there were several other planes on display outside. My favorite has always been the SR-71 blackbird, it never gets old walking up to one of the amazing machines. Once our guide told me what the ICBM was (I had no idea what one looked like up close), it made chills run down my spine. It is hard to believe that these devices could cause so much destruction.. In the background of the shots that show the dry lake bed runway and a large portion of the base, you can see a large black structure. This was the MDD (Mate De-Mate Device) that allowed the Space Shuttles to be mounted on the back of a jumbo jet so it could be flown back to Florida. This, literally HUGE, piece of history is probably going to be scrapped in the near future since they don’t want to donate it to a museum.
We are very thankful for the opportunity to go on this tour, and will remember it for sure. I just wish I could remember the name of the gentleman that gave us the tour, maybe someone will fill me in. Please let me know if I made any mistakes with the information included in this post so I can make corrections.