Edwards Air Force Base Open House & Air Show

Edwards Air Force Base Open House & Air Show

by John Thow

Originally known as Muroc Army Air Field, Edwards was later renamed in honor of Captain Glen Edwards, after his death in a crash of a Northrop YB-49 flying Wing near Muroc on June 5, 1948. The base borders, and now encompasses much of Rogers Dry Lake, whose hard, dry surface makes an excellent extension to the Edwards runway. The Edwards base, with its vast test range, excellent year-round weather and massive dry lake landing area, has been referred to as “God’s gift to the United States Air Force”.

Since World War II, Edwards has played a significant role in the development of nearly every Air Force aircraft ever created, as well as many from other branches of the service. Perhaps most notably, Edwards was where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, where the X-15 test flights took place, launching from under the wings of specially outfitted B-52s, and where the flight tests and many of the landings of the Space Shuttle program happened, and this is just the short list.

B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber

B-2 Spirit of New York lifts off from the Edwards runway at the Edwards AFB Air Show 2009. Photo: © John Thow

Edwards T-38 Talon

Edwards T-38 Talon jet trainer lifts off from the Edwards run way. Photo: Dan Thow ©

Boeing B-52 Stratofortress

Edwards’ own resident B-52 Stratofortress after landing and working its way back to South Base. Photo: Dan Thow ©

Edwards is indeed a very special and historic place for aviation, so for the public to have an opportunity to walk the flight line, see and tour some of these legendary aircraft and meet some of the people that fly them is an opportunity unlike that found anywhere else.

F-117 Nighthawk

F-117 Nighthawk, better known as the “Stealth Fighter” performs a fly-by with open weapons bays over the Edwards flightline during the 2006 Edwards AFB Open House Photo: John Thow ©

Thunderbirds Pilots Wave to the Crowd at 2006 Edwards AFB Open House

2005 USAF Thunderbirds pilots wave to fans at Edwards AFB. J.Thow ©

What Happened to the Edward’s Air Show?

Over the past several years we have been asked repeatedly “when is the next Edward’s Air Show?” The short answer, per our understanding, is not in the foreseeable future.

The last Edward’s Air Force Base Open House and Air Show took place in 2009. Due to changes at the base, it is now much more difficult to put on an air show of the size and scope that we have come to expect from an Edwards show.

Some of the changes at Edwards have included an increase in civilian contractors and a resulting reduction in needed Air Force personnel / Airmen. This means fewer people on hand that are available to staff the show, facilitate parking, maintain security and more.

Additionally with the Space Shuttle program coming to an end, NASA too has gone through some major changes including the modified 747 Shuttle Carrier aircraft that were once mainstays of the show being retired and sent to museums. One of which can now be seen near Plant 42 in Palmdale, California at the Blackbird / Davies Air Park. The NASA NF-15B has been retired to permanent display in front of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly NASA Dryden). The NASA F-16XL is now on permanent display at the Edwards Flight Test Museum, and so on. While these aircraft retirements and changes don’t prevent an air show, they were certainly even more exciting to see in the air and there are now a few less aircraft on hand to roll out to the flightline for the show.

So What Now?
The great news is that there are still great things going on at Edwards and there are still lovers of aviation in the high desert of Southern California that want to give the public opportunities to get closer to great airplanes and the fine people that fly and maintain them. We recommend checking out the Los Angeles County Air Show at Fox Field. The show started in 2014 and features the Blue Angels or the Tunderbirds (alternating every other year), alongside a nice line up of current aircraft from the USAF, USN and NASA, with a collection of warbirds and civilian performers. The show is at William J Fox Airfield in Lancaster, California.


747 Shuttle Carrier

747 Shuttle Carrier sits behind booths and attractions at Edwards Open House. Photo: Dan Thow ©

Space Shuttle Discovery

Final mission landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery
Photo: © John Thow

Space Shuttle Endeavour atop 747 Shuttle Carrier

Space Shuttle Endeavour atop 747 Shuttle Carrier in route to L.A. to the CA Science Center Museum. Photo: © John Thow

In addition, as mentioned above, be sure to have a look at the Blackbird Airpark in Palmdale. It features a nice collection of static aircraft displays including an SR-71 Blackbird, F-14 Tomcat, F-100 Super Sabre, B-52 Stratofortress, and the 747 Space Shuttle Carrier, just to name a few.


UPDATE 12/07/2018

It has been announced that the Edwards Air Force Base Air Show will be returning in 2020.

The Los Angeles County Air Show, Inc. Board of Directors and senior leadership at the 412th Test Wing, Edwards Air Force Base, have agreed to begin working toward solidifying a formal multi-year partnership to conduct air shows in the region.

This partnership paves the way to resume air shows at Edwards Air Force Base. The last public air show at the base was in 2009.

Next year, the event is moving from a traditional March time frame to October 18-20, 2019. The air show venues will rotate bi-annually between William J. Fox Airfield and Edwards Air Force Base:
October 18-20, 2019 at William J. Fox Airfield, Lancaster, Calif.;
October 16-18, 2020 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. CANCELLED
October 15-17, 2021 at William J. Fox Airfield, Lancaster, Calif.;
and October 14-16, 2022 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

“We’re very excited to put Edwards Air Force Base back on the air show map as “the center of the aerospace testing universe,” said Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert, 412th Test Wing Commander. “This partnership provides an amazing opportunity to inspire and educate adults and youth throughout the entire region and to showcase to the American people what we provide to the warfighter. Edwards is committed to supporting the Antelope Valley community with the air show at Fox Field in 2019 and at our base in 2020.”

From this year’s ICAS (International Council of Air Shows) convention, the USAF Thunderbirds have announced that they will be flying at the event.

Stay tuned for further details as they become available on our AIR SHOW CALENDAR.


Photography, Aviation Illustration, and MORE...