Edwards Air Force Base’s First Open House In 13 Years Seen From Space

After a 13-year hiatus, the 412th Test Wing decided 2022 would mark a return to Edwards Air Force Base opening its doors to the masses. The open house’s air show is paired with a large Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fair that has become a staple of ‘Flight Test Valley’ in recent years. The event also comes just days after the 75th anniversary of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, an event that cemented Edwards AFB (then Muroc Army Airfield) as the premier place on the planet where aviation breakthroughs are made and test pilots are born. Now, thanks to satellite imagery The War Zone obtained from Planet Labs, you can see what the much-anticipated aviation spectacle looks like from space.

The main ramp at Edwards AFB on the morning of show day number one, Saturday, October 15th, 2022. The spectator area is on the right, with the active ramp on the left. The USAF Test Pilot School is located where the two hangars and jet shelters are on the left, as well. PHOTO © 2022 PLANET LABS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION

Having had the pleasure of spending a couple of days roaming around the flightlines of Edwards AFB and NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong) on a couple of occasions, I say it really is an incredible place — one where realizing technological advancements on a daily basis is the norm, not the exception.

It’s aerospace Disneyland if you will.

You can read about what a week looks like at the sprawling test base in this past article of ours.

The extremely high operations tempo, critical tight testing schedules, and the security sensitivities surrounding much of what is done at Edwards, as well as the facility’s somewhat remote location, make it tough to hold annual open houses. So much is riding on what goes on there, you can imagine how pulling off such a massive event without temporarily degrading the base’s primary mission to a serious degree is incredibly challenging, but doing so occasionally is also incredibly important.

Edwards AFB is a national treasure — a historic place whose legend was literally born out of breaking barriers. Allowing people to come and take a look at what it is like and see the hardware closeup and flying in the sky not only maintains public support for installation and its many missions, but above all else, it will inspire the next generation of flight test maintainers, engineers, support personnel, and yes, pilots. Regardless of the technology, the key to winning in the air is having the absolute best people on the ground — especially those that support the absolutely massive research and development ecosystem that makes tomorrow’s air combat ideas a reality.

What looks like another interesting area with chalet tents as well as a long line of semi trucks has been set up near the threshold of the lakebed across from ‘contractors’ row’ on the northern side of the main base. PHOTO © 2022 PLANET LABS INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRINTED BY PERMISSION

So, in an abstract but important way, open houses at Edwards are a key element to the success of its mission.

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another 13 years for the next open house, but considering the massive demands that are now placed on the entire test community, it’s probably anyone’s guess.

You can watch Saturday’s show here:

Enjoy some shots from our contributor Matt Hartman from yesterday’s media day starting with the most high-profile guest in the static area, the Darkstar hypersonic jet movie prop from Topgun: Maverick that got placed right next to its very non-fiction but long-retired forebearer, the SR-71 Blackbird:

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

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.