Sixty Years into the Unknown

A single F-16D accelerated through the sound barrier, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Air Force Flight Test Center pushing the edge of the envelope at Edwards AFB, Calif. With retired Brig Gen. Chuck Yeager in the cockpit, together with AFFTC Commander Brig. Gen. Robert Nolan, the F-16’s sonic wave reverberated, echoing Yeager’s first supersonic flight in 1947. “When the Air Force Flight Test Center was established in 1951, Edwards Air Force Base had already become well known as the place where aviation history was being written,” said Nolan, speaking at the celebration. Since then, the center “has been on the cutting edge of every major development that has transformed the field of flight—the turbo jet engine, supersonic and hypersonic flight,” among many others, he added, addressing the hundreds gathered to mark the anniversary on Oct. 14 among test aircraft in Edward’s hanger 1600. (Edwards report by Kate Blais)