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F-117, first flight video
by IKE 04-Sep-2010 00:45

What once was the ultimate defense secret, developed in the infamous Groom Lake Nevada military base (or Area 51 as most people know it) now it is available in the public domain of Youtube. Only a few days ago Lockheed publish the video of the first flight of the F-117. The flight took place 29 years ago in 1981, when the aircraft '780' (the first F-117) became airborne piloted by Hal Farley.---

In the image above the first production aircraft (number 780) with its desert paint scheme (left) and during its construction (right).

The F-117 was a groundbreaking aircraft in many ways. Most apparently it used a new method for dispersing the incoming radiation by using a faceted form where most planes were aligned and intersected at an obtuse angle. This shape and the complicated heat dispersing exhausts produced an aircraft that was so un-aerodynamic and unstable that could fly only with digital fly-by-wire (adapted from F-16). The next generation of stealth aircraft used more advanced computational methods and computers that yield more complex shapes that were a lot less compromised.

It was extremely successful in many war theaters where it operated under a revolutionary way (hi-lo-hi unescorted, fully preplanned missions etc). Τhe only shot down was by a very elaborate operation in Serbia that demanded the best radar and surface to air missile technology from Serbia (and even Russia) and the worst attack tactics from USAF.

The relatively small fleet retired in 2008, newer aircraft was much more capable and without the restrictions and complicated support and operation of F-117.

The video of the first flight:

(all images Lockheed/USAF, video: Lockheed)

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