DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- The world's first attack aircraft to employ stealth technology is slipping quietly into history.Huh. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the mystery and secrecy surrounding the F-117 was finally revealed after years of rumors and speculation. Model airplanes were even sold that guessed as to what it looked like while it was still top secret and being kept from public view. Now it’s just junk.
The inky black, angular, radar-evading F-117, which spent 27 years in the Air Force arsenal secretly patrolling hostile skies from Serbia to Iraq, will be put in mothballs next month in Nevada.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which manages the F-117 program, will have an informal, private retirement ceremony Tuesday with military leaders, base employees and representatives from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
Fifty-nine F-117s were made; 10 were retired in December 2006 and 27 since then, the Air Force said. Seven of the planes have crashed, one in Serbia in 1999.
I had a great picture of the pilot of an F-117 getting out of his plane’s cockpit after its arrival for the first ever visit of a stealth fighter to Springfield’s (then) Capitol Airport. It was in the very early 90s IIRC. The plane was here to participate in that year’s Air Rendezvous air show. I even took the day off of work to watch the Stealth's arrival. That picture is forever lost, however, thanks to some messiness associated with my divorce some years later. Bitch.
I think I also remember there being some rumors that the F-117 that came to Springfield that year had been improperly guarded after hours while in a hanger here. Supposedly, people, including civilians, were allowed to walk on the plane, potentially causing damage to its radar absorbing (and expensive) skin. I don’t know if those rumors were true or not but it sure feeds into the notion that we can fuck up anything in Springfield.
Since then I’ve seen the F-117 at several air shows, but I guess I never will again. Wow.