Tuesday, May 29, 2012

California Patrol: August 6, 1930

Somewhere over California, 3:30 pm, 8/6/30: "Asst. Sect. of War Directing
Operations from Bomber"
The MojaveWest Vintage Photograph Archive was privileged to be able to recently acquire this amazing set of four 8x10 photographs from 1930, featuring stunning images of U.S. Army Air Corps fighters and bombers on patrolling maneuvers over California.

The four images have no markings on their reverse side, but came from an estate along with a large number of aerial survey photos showing landmarks and features in California, and these had a purple rubber stamp on their back that says "Official Photo, 15th Photo Section, Air Corps, U.S. Army, Crissy Field, Presidio, San Francisco Calif." It is presumed, then, that our four photos also were taken by the 15th.

The four images are all dated 8/6/30, and even have the time taken detailed in the hand-written captions. The first, taken at 3:30 pm, is of the Curtiss B-2 Condor bomber (right), which was carrying Assistant Secretary of War Frederick Huff Payne, who was directing the exercise.

Payne, who was described as a "Lt. Colonel of the Ordnance Reserve" by a contemporary newspaper, had just been appointed by President Hoover to the post in May, filling a spot vacated by Col. Patrick J. Hurley, who had been promoted to Secretary of War upon the untimely death of James W. Good.

Curtiss built 13 Condors (an XB-2 prototype and a dozen production aircraft) from 1929-1930, and all were flown by 11th Bomb Squadron, 7th Bombardment Group, based at Rockwell Field, at the far southern end of California. The Condor normally carried a crew of five, the two pilots, a bombardier, and two gunners, who manned aft-facing Lewis machine guns mounted in the back of each engine nacelle (obscured by the upper wing tip in our photo). When you consider the noise and exhaust from the Curtiss Conqueror V-12 engines, the gunner's position had to be less that comfortable!

At 3:45, this pursuit formation was photographed high over a marine layer of clouds on the California Coast. The planes are Boeing P-12s.

At 4:00 pm, a formation of five B-2 Condors fly just off the coast, visible at the right edge of the image.

The fourth image, taken at 4:35pm, shows a dozen P-12s in a "D" formation. The caption identifies them as from the 95th Squadron, which was also based at Rockewell Field. The 95th started out in WWI, and was the unit that Quentin Roosevelt was serving in when he was killed.

The big question with this photo is its location: it appears to be shot over a river where it empties into the Pacific (note the surf at the upper edge of the image). There appears to be a military base under the planes.

However, I have yet to find a corresponding river that appears this way today. The closest I can figure, this is either the San Pedro or Long Beach area before the huge reclamation projects that resulting in fill-land which changed the entire appearance of the area. If anyone has a better idea, please comment below!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Burbank Gala

The greater Los Angeles area in the late 1920s was awash in small airfields. It was the Golden Age of Aviation, and airports, as well as aviators, clamored for attention, business and supremacy. Glendale’s Grand Central Air Terminal, which opened in 1929, boasted of the west coast’s first concrete runway. Not to be outdone, the nearby city of Burbank encouraged the construction of what was then called United Airport (today Bob Hope International), which was touted as America’s first multi-million dollar airfield. It was built and operated by the United Airport & Transportation Corp, the giant conglomerate that was later broken up to become Boeing Aircraft, United Airlines and United Technologies.

While the Grand Central Air Terminal’s opening had been a big gala affair, Burbank’s had to be bigger and better. It was a three-day event, held on Memorial Day weekend, 1930 that featured a series of air races (a total of five closed-course air races held over the three days, as air racing was much more popular sport then than it is today), as well as a mass appearance of Army aircraft, fitting since it was, after all, Memorial Day.

The original Hangar 2, which has since been moved to the far
west end of BUR, where it has housed biz jets belonging to,
among others, John Travolta and Roy Disney.
The entire 95th Aero Squadron and their Boeing P-12 “Pursuits” from March Airfield as well as the 11th Bombardment Squadron, flying Curtiss B-2 Condors and Keystone LB-7 Bombers from Rockwell Field (today’s NAS North Island, in San Diego) arrived on Saturday morning, May 30th, for massed fly-bys, as well as static display of their aircraft. Our photo shows some of these parked on the field after their arrival. A program of the festivities can be seen here. Interestingly, the P-12s are named as “Wasps” and the LB-7s as “Hornets” in the program, reflecting not the name of the aircraft, but the type of engines used.

Just past the trees, you can see the dome of the Portal of The
Folded Wings at Valhalla Cemetery, where a number of aviation
"greats", including the Wright Bros' mechanic, Charles Talyor,
are buried.
The festivities kicked off on Friday afternoon with the arrival of the two army squadrons, as well as the Goodyear blimp Volunteer. Two class air races were held, and the evening finished off with an 8:30 pm “Dance on the Roof Garden, Terminal Building”. This must have been quite the swanky affair…and oh, that the vastly remodeled Burbank terminal building still had this venue!

The main terminal building, which still stands, albeit highly
remodeled. This is where, on both the Friday and Saturday
nights of the event, VIPs could "Dance on the Roof Garden."
In the distance, to the left of the terminal, is the original Hangar
One, which like Two has been moved to the west end of the
airport. It houses the US headquarters of the regional cargo
airline Ameriflight (disclaimer: proud former employee).
On Saturday morning, two additional squadrons of Navy planes arrived, and more races were held, including a two-plane-team relay race, in which a passenger had to dash from the first plane to a second waiting one after the first lap of the race. A race for women pilots, as well as an unlimited class race was also held. The final event of the day, the William E. Boeing Trophy Race was for members of the 95th Aero Squadron. At the end of the day on Sunday, all the Army and Navy planes formed up together in one giant departing formation.

This photo also gives an interesting juxtaposition on the threshold of a crucial time in aviation history: the aircraft shown here in 1930, both the fighters and the bombers, are little changed in configuration and technology from 15 years before, in the midst of WWI. And yet a mere 15 years after this photo, there were jets flying through the sky.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Black Bullet

Jack Northrop had a knack for thinking outside the box...and coming up with radical, unusual aircraft designs. And not all of them worked...the XP-56 Black Bullet is a shining example of that kind of glorious "failure" that comes from pushing the envelope of design.

Our two "photos" today are morphs, glossy 8x10 press photos that are based on actual photographs of the aircraft, but which are heavily retouched by an artist. Keep in mind, this was war time, and the rules on releasing actual photos of cutting edge, experimental aircraft, were quite restrictive on what could actually be shown.

Ever obsessed with developing the flying wing aircraft design - and taking advantage of the reduction in aerodynamic drag that the elimination of the tail surfaces provided - Northrop envisioned an extremely fast, maneuverable fighter.

Both photos carry the identical mimeographed cut line pasted on the back, which reads, "Northrop Aircraft's XP-56 -- an extremely advanced pusher type pursuit plane, and the first of its type ever designed and built.  The streamlined nacelle, vertical fins above and below, and the absence of a conventional tail give the XP-56 a startling and unusual appearance." The images are also stamped as approved for publication by the War Department.

The source photo which the artist of the publicly released version
worked from shows the second XP-56 on jacks in a hangar at
Muroc. This photo is from the National Museum of the Air Force,
via Tony Landis' excellent book Experimental and Prototype
It didn't work out so good. The original design, which Northrop called the N2B, did not have the upper vertical stabilizer shown here, and directional stability on the first flights was severely lacking.

Jack's concept was actually designed around a proposed liquid-cooled 24-cylinder H-block engine, Pratt & Whitney's X-1800. When the engine builder gave up on that design, however, Northrop was forced to adapt the airframe's design to accommodate a very different engine shape, the air-cooled Pratt R-2800 radial engine, which was embedded in the fuselage right behind the cockpit. The engine drove two contra-rotating pusher props, and excessive flexing of the drive shafts caused additional problems.

The first of the two prototypes was destroyed while doing a high-speed taxi test on Muroc's lakebed, when the left tire disintegrated and the plane went out of control. The second prototype, 42-38353 and the aircraft shown here, took over testing. A number of design changes were made to try to improve the stability, including the addition of the upper vertical and the installation of an innovative flaperon system that was pneumatically actuated (by a system of bellows powered by air from the venturiis on the wingtips). First flight of 42-38353 was on March 23, 1944, but was very short, since the pilot experienced problems in pitch control, with the aircraft acting extremely nose-heavy. There were other problems, as well, including excessive fuel consumption and an inability to fly anywhere near the top speeds that the engineers expected.

To investigate the causes of these issues, NACA was asked to test the aircraft in their giant wind tunnel at Moffatt Field. However, higher priority projects pushed the XP-56's schedule to the right, so some additional tests were flown at Muroc. The handling qualities problems continued, and further testing was not deemed safe. The wind tunnel testing was delayed another year, and by this time the war was over and the age of jet aircraft was dawning. Ultimately, the Air Corps gave up and cancelled the program. The sole surviving XP-56 is stored awaiting restoration at the National Air and Space Museum.

Oh, and no, despite the name, the XP-56 was never painted black.

The mimeographed caption on the photo's back

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spirit of St. Louis on Tour

During one of the stops on the Guggenheim tour. Anyone want to take
a stab at figuring out the lettering on the ground?
Today's post is in honor of the 85th anniversary of Charles Lindbergh's crossing of the Atlantic in the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis, which took place May 20-21, 1927. In the years since, Lindbergh's feat is credited with the popularization of air travel and the launching of the Golden Age of Aviation. But it wasn't just the record-setting flight that accomplished all of this, it is what was done after the flight, the way in which Lindbergh's accomplishment - and by virtue of that the viability of aviation - was brought to the doorsteps of much of America.

After landing in Paris at the end of his historic flight, Lindbergh went on to fly the Ryan NYP to Belgium and then England. There, it was loaded onto the Navy cruiser USS Memphis, dispatched by President Coolidge for this purpose, for the return trip to the U.S. On June 11, the ship with its cargo arrived in Washington, and was triumphantly escorted up the Potomac by a fleet of Navy ships and, overhead, squadrons of military aircraft.

Over the subsequent ten months, from July 20 to October 23, 1927, Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis went on a national goodwill tour, known as the "Guggenheim Tour" because it was sponsored by a fund established by Chicago multimillionaire Harry Guggenheim and his father Daniel. Lindbergh made a grand counter-clockwise tour around the continent, making 92 stops and visiting all 48 states (click here for a map). The tour also reached down into Latin America, with Lindbergh and the Spirit making the first non-stop flight between Washington D.C. and Mexico City.

It was on this tour that some excited amateur photographer snapped the above image, though I don't know where it was (sadly he or she mistakenly focused on the barbed wire instead of the plane, but that doesn't matter to me, though, it's still a magical moment in time).

After the tour, Spirit of St. Louis was retired in April 1928 and donated to the Smithsonian. Lindbergh took off in the plane one last time on April 30, flying from Lambert Field in St. Louis to Bolling Field in Washington D.C. To get the plane to its new home, it once again took to the waters of the Potomac, this time on a barge. The Archive is privileged to own both a print and the original large-format negative of this second photo. Hand-written on the back of it is the inscription, "Lindberg's 'Spirit of St. Louis' on the barge at 'Haines Point', Washington D.C. Spring, 1927." (Yes, the writer was off a year!) Hains Point is just north, across the Potomac from Bolling Field, so it was a fairly short trip.

The Spirit originally hung in the "Castle", the old Smithsonian building, before the Air & Space Museum was built, at which point it was moved and hung in the new museum's main gallery, where it remains today.

(As a small side note, which I can indulge in since this is my blog...the top photo is the one that started my passion for collecting vintage aviation images, when I found and bought it at an antique auction house in Sacramento in the late 1970s, where, while a teenager, I worked on the weekends. Little did I understand, when I shelled out the princely sum of $25, representing my entire evening's wages, what an adventure these photos would lead me on, and and that I would later go on to take history-recording photos myself as a flight test photographer. It's been quite a ride!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mojave Skyrays

A pair of VMF-115's Skyrays cruise over the mountains of the Mojave Desert.
(Mojave Transportation Museum Collection)
From the archives of the Mojave Transportation Museum come today's three photos, depicting the Douglas F4D-1 Skyrays that Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-115 operated from MCAAS Mojave during the summer and fall of 1956.

VMF-115 had been the first USMC squadron equipped with the Grumman F9F Panther in 1949, and with the jets, they had expended more ordnance in Korea than any other Marine squadron.

When the new Douglas F4D came on line (nicknamed "Ford") in early 1956, VFM-115 got the Marines' first jets, and deployed to MCAAS Mojave for six month of operational flight testing.

Mojave was first established as a Marine Corps Auxiliary Air Station in July, 1942, at a time when the Corps needed a place for its pilots to get their gunnery training. They stayed there until 1946, and then returned in 1953, staying that time until 1959. During this second stay in the desert, the Corps drastically lengthened the main runway to accommodate their new jets. This legacy, years later, made the now-civilian Mojave Airport an ideal location for flight testing, and eventually the space port that it now is.

The Skyray was the last Douglas fighter built before that company had a "McDonnell" shoved in front of it.

VMF-115 personnel go through the ceremonies of departing MCAAS Mojave
on November 20, 1956

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mainliner Stewardesses

One of the unique aspects of collecting snapshots is the almost innocent, unpretentious glimpses it gives us into the daily lives of the people who took them. With the explosion in air travel during the 1930s and 1940s, not only did the nation and world become smaller for passengers, it became an "adventure" for the people who crewed the airliners. I've no idea who the unnamed "me" is from these photos, but with her friend Ruth, the stewardess pictured clearly is excited by her job as a United Airlines Mainliner Stewardess.

In 1936, United airlines had become the first carrier to hire a female flight attendant, a 25-year old named Ellen Church. Up to that point, the role had been exclusively a male one, with the job title typically "purser" or "steward", from the rail and ocean liner traditions. United envisioned giving its passengers an extra measure of service by requiring its cabin staff to be registered nurses, and feminizing the male title, they became "stewardesses". The nurse requirement was dropped during WWII, as nurses were strongly encouraged to lend their talents to the war effort.

A United magazine ad encouraging young women to become stewardesses, published just a few years after these photos were taken, used the draw of visiting glamorous places and meeting new people: "Imagine the challenge of being part of a team with other young and attractive people working in aviation, using your talents to help passengers enjoy their flight with United. Imagine the excitement, too, of having time off to see the sights in new cities! It's an important career for travel-loving people! To qualify you must be...between 20 and 26 years of age, single 5' 2" to 5' 8" with weight proportionate to your height. When you are accepted, you will have 5 weeks training, a pair of wings and then attractive pay and expense allowances."

By the time that these photos were taken, the DC-3 had been in the fleet for a long time, since United had first started taking delivery of the DC-3s in 1936. When they started their service, they were a revolution in the air, but by 1950, the rapid development of aviation technology - and airliner comfort standard - meant that they were supplanted by bigger, faster, and longer range post-war aircraft designs such as the The DC-4 and -6, the Boeing Stratocruiser and the Lockheed Constellation.

The "Mainliner" tag reflects United's advertising emphasis that they were the first truly trans-continental airline, (in the words of a 1947 magazine ad that featured the DC-3) the "Main Line airway of the nation", and (in another from 1950) "The Nation's No. 1 Coast-to-coast Airline," This label was applied directly to the DC-3 as a model name, with a brochure of that day describing the plane as "The DC-3 Mainliner". In the early days of United's DC-3 operations, in fact, "Mainliner" was the main title on the airplane, rather than "United Airlines". Exactly when the "180" was appended to the name is a bit more clouded, but this 1943 article from the Eugene, Ore Register-Guardian gives a hint with the mention of the "modern" airliner's speed of 180 miles per hour, as opposed to the expected faster DC-4.

In an interesting afternote, when I was doing research for this post, I came across an on-line offering of a vintage model kit for the United DC-3 Mainliner from 1947...at a whopping $3,500!

The Douglas DC-4 Mainliner (detail crop below)
Even before the first DC-3 flew, however, United and several other airlines were talking with Douglas about a larger, four-engine airliner which could haul double the passengers. The prototype was very large, and after United tried it out, they realized that the costs would prove uneconomical. Douglas down-sized the plane somewhat resulting in the production version of the DC-4, but WWII interrupted plans to put it in service. After the war, United started flying them as the "Mainliner 230", reflecting their greater speeds; the DC-4 reduced the transcontinental flight time to 16 hours (including a stop in Chicago).

In the 1943 newspaper article linked above, the writer referred to the promise of the increased performance of the planned DC-4 operations, and noted "If it had not been for the war, today it [United] would be operating over its system 44 passengers and cargo four-engined 5,000-horsepower transports...[having] a cruising speed of 250 miles per hour."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tristar Turns 40

(Today's post had originally intended to run last week, but was preempted by the C-17 retirement event)

Thursday, April 26th, marked a quiet little milestone in commercial aviation history, the 40th anniversary of the introduction of Lockheed's L-1011 Tristar airliner. Launch customer Eastern airlines took delivery of their first L1011, N306EA, on April 26, 1972, and immediately put it into service on the Miami-New York run.

To celebrate, I'm featuring the only L-1011 photo currently in the MojaveWest archive, a color 8x10 print that was taken of Delta's first L-1011, N401DA (c/n 1041) as it took off from runway 25 at Palmdale's Air Force Plant 42. This plane, the 41st Tristar built, rolled off the Lockheed assembly line on September 7, 1973 and was delivered on October 3rd. There's no way to tell whether this photo is of its first flight or the delivery flight, but those two date do give a bracket for about when it was shot.

After flying with Delta for just over a decade, 701 then saw service with Total Air, Air America, Egyptair, Air Algerie and ATA; she was scrapped in Roswell NM in 2006. (A cool website documenting the last flight of a Delta L-1011 can be found here.)

At the end of their lives, some of Delta's Tristars came back to the Antelope Valley where the sat for years out at the Mojave Airport before being cut up for scrap. I was working as an inspector out there at the time, and after about 10 years of sitting there, the ownership of the boneyard fleet had just transferred to a different company, and me and my crew were tasked with inventorying them. These planes were had galleys on the lower deck equipped with big ovens, and we were surprised to find that there were ceramic dishes of dessicated, mold-covered "food" still in them!

There are plans to bring an L-1011 back to Palmdale for permanent display at the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark on the south side of Plant 42.

Note of irony: so one day, I was standing out in the sun next to the runway at Palmdale shooting a test event...almost in the exact spot that the above L-1011 photo was taken. A couple of days later I went on vacation and drove 360 or so miles north to visit family in the Sacramento area, and went antiques shopping with my brother. There, in a glass case in one of the local shops, was the 8x10 color print that is featured above. Weird!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Glendale Photo Collection Discovered

The MojaveWest Vintage Photograph Archive is pleased to announce the acquisition of a rare and unique collection of large-format photographic negatives from the 1920s and 1930s, containing what appears to be previously unknown and unpublished images of a number of well-known aviators from what has come to be known as the "Golden Age of Aviation".

One of two Fokker F-32 airliners that served for a short time with Western Air Express.

The collection, which appears to be the work of just one passionate photographer, centers on the Glendale, Calif., Grand Central Air Terminal, which at the time was the hub of the aviation activities of the glitteratti from nearby Hollywood. Included in the collection are photos showing aviation celebrities such as Amelia Earhart and husband George Putnam, Roscoe Turner, Paul Mantz, Howard Hughes, Art Goebel and Al Wilson, as well as others such as Will Rogers and Eleanor Roosevelt. There are a number of people shown who clearly were VIPs, but who have not yet been identified.

Because the negatives are all of the nitrate type, they require special handling, and are potentially subject to degradation and even, if the conditions are right, spontaneous combustion. Because of this, they have all been carefully digitized at high resolutions, in order to preserve the embedded images.

The identity of the photographer remains a mystery, but the lack of any of the images showing up in public domain databases tends to indicate that he wasn't press, and his access suggests that he instead might have been a hobbiest who hung out with the small group of Hollywood types who indulged in aviation as a pasttime.

Some of the photos will be featured in upcoming Vintage Air blog posts, while others are being saved for inclusion in a very limited-edition high-end collector's book, tentatively titled "Golden Age Air in the Golden State", will be formally announced later this year, at which time pre-publication reservations will be taken.

The photo included with today's announcement shows one of two giant, four-engined Fokker F.32 airliners which served briefly with Western Air Express, taking on some final baggage just before departing the Grand Central Air Terminal. The F.32 was the first four-engine airliner built in America, and was essentially a failure. Only ten were built, and only two actually entered commercial revenue service, both with Western. Initially, Western Air Express had ordered five, as did Universal Air Lines. The prototype, which first flew on September 13, 1929 was even painted in Universal's livery, but it crashed a mere two months after its maiden flight, while attempting to demonstrate a three-engine takeoff.

The problem with the F.32 was that it was woefully underpowered, and the arrangement of having one engine mounted behind the other led to the aft engine having cooling and efficiency problems. In an odd arrangement, the forward engine powered a two-bladed propeller, and the aft engine drove a three-bladed prop which had a smaller diameter compared to the front one. In addition to the technical problems, the plane was just downright expensive, at $110,000 per aircraft, an enormous sum during the Great Depression.

Western Air Express initially operated the F.32s out of Alhambra Airport starting in 1930, but moved to Glendale in 1932, so that gives an indication of when this photo might have been taken.

There are a couple of other informative web resources on the F.32, including this one from the Ed Coates Collection, and this one from the Dutch Aviation website, which has some rare interior shots.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

C-17 T-1 from Start to Finish

A MD corporate 8x10 print showing the freshly painted T-1. These prints are
slightly "well worn".
As I've written before, when you're in the hunt for old photos, it pays to ask! That works at yard sales, too. I came across one that had on old framed space shuttle litho for a buck (and which was essentially worthless), but I took the time to ask the gal who was selling the stuff for her invalid dad if she had any actual photographs, and sure enough, she went inside to dig some out. What she came up with was a bonanza...three 8x10s of the very first C-17, serial 87-0025 and known as "T-1", one of which showed the planes landing at Edwards at the conclusion of her maiden flight. And the photo had even been signed by the crew! Also included were two crew patches, a first flight coin and a small American flag that had been carried onboard the for that first flight (first flight flags is something of a tradition in the flight test world). All for $15!

T-1 on her 2-hour maiden flight, heading northwest over Torrance Airport.
So, in a nod to a bit of history that's just been made with the retirement of T-1, I'm going to break the 30-year rule (the definition of "vintage" in the antiques world) and feature these photos for this blog post.

The C-17 had its genesis in a program intended to develop a replacement for the C-130 Hercules (before, of course, the powers-that-be realized that the Herc is destined for immortality). At the time, Boeing proposed their YC-14 and McDonnell Douglas entered their YC-15. The competition was cancelled when the Air Force came to their senses and realized that the best C-130 replacement was a newer C-130.

Signing this 8x10 of the first landing were Boeing Chief Test Pilot Bill Casey,
USAF pilot George London and Boeing Chief Loadmaster Ted Venturini. Also
onboard was Boeing Flight Test Engineer Henry Van De Graaf, who didn't sign.
Then the Pentagon planners needed to start dealing with the aging of their strategic airlifter fleet, and the C-X competition was launched. Lockheed proposed either a stretched, improved version of the C-141 (after all, that strategy had worked for the C-130) or a new plane based on the giant C-5. Boeing offered a three-engined version of the YC-14, and MD put up an enlarged version of their YC-15 design. MD won.

The program was plagued with technical and political problems from the start. The prototype for the newly designated C-17A was essentially a hand-built plane, and was intended to be a dedicated flight test aircraft - hence the air vehicle designation of T-1 - with an expected lifespan of just five years.

At the 20th anniversary event, from top left, Bill
Casey, Ted Venturini, George London and Henry
Van De Graaf. (Rebecca Amber/Aerotech News)
First flight swag
T-1 made her maiden flight, from Long Beach to Edwards, on September 15, 1991. Troubles continued to plague the program, though, which required a longer developmental and systems flight test program, and so T-1 was refurbished several times, and kept working away out at Edwards. In fact, at one point the demand for testbed aircraft was so high that the YC-15 demonstrator aircraft was resurrected, as well (it has since been retired to the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum and sits on public display outside the base's west gate).

On September 15, 2011, T-1 celebrated her 20th anniversary by flying from Edwards to Long Beach for a low pass, then re-creating the route of her original flight, landing at Edwards where a party was held and the original flight crew reunited. It was announced that the old gal would finally be retiring.

T-1 lifts off from Edwards' Rwy 22L for the last time (Tony Landis/NASA)
Then, a week ago Monday, April 23rd, T-1 lifted off one last time from Edwards. She made a low pass over her Long Beach birthplace before heading east for her new home at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio to, in the words of Winging It Online's Antelope Valley aerospace news blog, "be preserved as yet another valuable contribution that the Antelope Valley has made to the aerospace world and the security of this nation."

Low approach over Long Beach, April 23, 2012 (Courtesy of Kevin Helm)

Where it all started (Courtesy of Kevin Helm)