What Is This Mystery Airplane Photographed At California Airport Last Week?

A very exotic and futuristic looking aircraft, and at this time one that nobody seems to have ever seen before, made an appearance at the Southern California Logistics Airport—also once known as ex-George Air Force Base—in Victorville, California. The aircraft was snapped from the fence line with a group of handlers surrounding it. Apparently the picture was taken on April 12th. As to if it is still there is unknown at this time.

By the grainy photo of the aircraft in question, it looks kind of like a Bell X-1 and a Piaggio P.180 Avanti hybrid of sorts. There may even be a little BD-5 in there as well. Although it is hard to tell from the picture, it also looks like the design may possibly rely on a single center-line pusher-prop configuration, but the aircraft seems quite large for just a single engine. Also, by the look of the windscreen and the lack of any other windows, creature comforts don’t appear to be a major design factor. 

Bell X-1, NASA
Piaggio P.180 Avanti, Rafael Luiz Canossa/Wikicommons

Strange aircraft aren’t exactly a new thing to this area of California. It is extremely well known for its ongoing history of aerospace development and testing. Mojave Air and Space Port—home of the legendary Scaled Composites boutique “bleeding-edge” aerospace design house—as well as Edwards AFB, NAWS China Lake, and private fields like Gray Butte and Mesa that serve General Atomics remotely piloted vehicle programs, are all in the area. A handful or radar cross section test facilities also dot the desolate countryside. Not just that, but the surrounding airspace is just as storied for its use to develop advanced aerospace technologies—some of them highly classified—as the bases and airports that lie beneath it.

The plane’s strange appearance and unknown origin have also led some to speculate that it could be some sort of movie prop. Victorville is famous for its “boneyard” of parted out and stored airliners and has been used extensively by Hollywood in the past for everything from TV commercials to high-budget feature films. 

SCLA aka George AFB, also often referred to just as “Victorville.”, Bobak Ha’Eri/Wikicommons

So what is it? I honestly have no clue. A new experimental design that looks to test a new fuel concept? Some sort of elaborate Hollywood prop? In this day and age we can also never rule out a photoshop creation, although it looks highly unlikely in this circumstances. 

What do you think? Help us solve the mystery buy letting us know what you think in the comments section below.

(Big hat tip to our friend Matt Hartman of Shorealone Films for sending this crazy mystery over!)

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

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Tyler Rogoway


Tyler’s passion is the study of military technology, strategy, and foreign policy and he has fostered a dominant voice on those topics in the defense media space. He was the creator of the hugely popular defense site Foxtrot Alpha before developing The War Zone.