This chapter appears in our up-coming Virtual Guide
The Air Show exhibition at Edwards AFB is one of the best
in the United States, if not the entire world. Edwards Air
Force Base is home to the United States Air Force's Flight Test Center and,
according to the Edwards AFB
website, has been the
location of more major milestones in flight than any other place on earth!
Now, that's quite an accomplishment! Add to that the fact that most aircraft
ever flown by the Air Force were originally flight tested at this base and it
is no wonder that aviation enthusiasts see the Mojave Desert region around Edwards
as the place to visit! You just never know what you'll see flying
around the desert so keep their eyes to the sky.
Attending an Air Show at Edwards is a great opportunity to not only see this
famous facility but to enjoy the static displays and thrilling flight demonstrations
of some of the Air Force's most spectacular and awesome aircraft! Most
of the pictures you'll see in our Photo Tours were taken at the 2003 Air Show
but understand that not every aircraft is at every Show. We have attended
many Air Shows at Edwards, however, and have never been disappointed.
There is always something new to see and the flight demonstrations are always
so impressive - even if you've seen the planes fly before! You just never
know what you'll see at an Edwards AFB Air Show!
The Air Shows at Edwards are very popular with the residents of Southern
California and each year they attract more and more people. Be prepared
for large crowds (in the thousands) and all of the typical delays that go with
an event of this size.
As of 2003, access onto the base was only through two gates:
West Gate at Rosemond (Rosemond Blvd.)
North Gate at Highway 58 and Boron
Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States, there was also
a South Gate entrance via 120th Street but it has been closed since then and
the two remaining entrances are very heavily controlled.
Much of the crowd for any Air Show comes up from the L.A. Basin via S.R.
14 (Antelope Valley Freeway) and their closest entrance is the West Gate near
the town of Rosemond. This makes the West entrance extremely crowded with
traffic and, on two separate occasions, we have experienced a two-hour traffic
jam as we were led from the West Gate to the designated parking area on Rogers
Dry Lake. Although the North Gate is further away, it might be worth your
time to enter the base from there.
From Los Angeles (to West Gate):
Most people coming from Los Angeles approach from S.R. 14 (also known as
the Antelope Valley Freeway and the 14 Freeway). If you are using this
route, continue on the 14 Freeway, past Palmdale and Lancaster, to the town
of Rosemond. Look for Rosemond 20 miles (32 km) north of the intersection
with Palmdale Blvd. (S.R. 138).
Exit the 14 Freeway at Rosemond Blvd. and turn right (east). Continue
on Rosemond Blvd, through the small town of Rosemond,. for about 15 miles (24
km) to the main part of the base. As mentioned above, this route is usually
very congested [see picture].
If you decide that you want to avoid the traffic at this Gate and try your
luck at the North Gate, see the * below under the "From Bakersfield" directions.
From Bakersfield (to North Gate):
Take the 58 Freeway east for about 60 miles (100 km), through Tehachapi,
to the town of Mojave. From Mojave, continue on the 58 Freeway, passing
the Mojave Airport, for about 14 miles (22.5 km) and take the Edwards AFB off-ramp.
* Alternate route from Los Angeles: Follow the directions above but
do not exit at Rosemond Blvd. Continue driving north on the 14 Freeway,
for about 12.8 miles, to the town of Mojave where the freeway ends. Cross
the railroad tracks and, at the traffic light, turn right (east) and follow
the signs directing you to S.R. 58 and Barstow. This road will, after
a few miles, put you onto the new 58 Freeway. From the traffic light intersection,
it is about 16.7 miles to the Edwards AFB off-ramp.
From the Cajon Pass via I-15 (to North Gate):
If you are coming up from San Bernardino or the Counties of Riverside, San
Diego or Orange, take the I-15 north through the Cajon Pass. Just after
cresting the Cajon Summit, go 3.3 miles (5.3 km) the US 395 off-ramp.
Continue north on US 395 for 42.5 miles (68 km). At this point you will
reach Kramer Junction (where S.R. 58 intersects US 395). Turn left at
this intersection, onto S.R. 58, and continue west for 19.7 miles (31.7 km).
Exit the Edwards AFB off-ramp (Not the North Edwards off-ramp) and turn
left to the base.
The main attraction for the Air Force to this location was (and still is)
the large, dry lakebeds here. Their long, flat surfaces make great natural
runways for all kinds of aircraft. The largest of these dry lakebeds was
first known as Rodriguez Dry Lake but somehow became better known as Rogers
The name was changed again in 1933 when an aviator with a vision, named H.H.
"Hap" Arnold, recognized the value of this area and established the Muroc Bombing
and Gunnery Range. At the beginning of World War II, a training camp for
pilots was established at this bombing range and the name was changed once again
to the Muroc Army Air Base. These pilots trained mostly in B-24's and
In the 1930's, when Rogers Dry Lake became known as Muroc Dry Lake, it was
a popular place where "hot-rod" enthusiasts went to race their machines.
Their racing came to an abrupt stop in 1941, however, when the military took
over the dry lake completely and kicked them out. The "hot-roders" moved
their racing to the southeast, at El Mirage Dry Lake near Victorville, and the
Air Force used the dry lake for landing the Space Shuttle and other fast-running
aircraft. Recently, on a weekend in 2001, the Air Force opened up the
dry lake and allowed those same, classic "hot-roders" and their classic race
cars to run on their old "turf" once more.
It was also in the beginning of World War II that American aviators first
worked with jet engines and began experimenting with secret, jet powered aircraft.
The test flights for this new aircraft increased the traffic at Wright Field
in Ohio to the point where it became overwhelmed so plans were set forth to
build a secret testing facility near the Muroc base on the shore of Rogers Dry
Lake. Here, they could take advantage of both the lake's flat surface
and its remote location.
By the end of the war, the Muroc base had taken on two distinctly different
identities - one was for highly experimental (and usually secret) research programs
and the other was for flight testing conventional aircraft of the period.
One of those highly experimental programs was the rocket powered Bell X-1.
Captain Chuck Yeager flew the X-1 at Muroc and became the first person to break
the elusive and long-sought-after sound barrier.
In 1949, the Muroc base was renamed Edwards Air Force Base in honor of Captain
Glen Edwards who was killed during the test flight of another unusual aircraft,
the YB-49 Flying Wing. The main dry lake used by the Air Force, who's
name has changed many times over the years, is now called Rogers Dry Lake by
the military but many people still know it as Muroc Dry Lake.
Also on the grounds of Edwards AFB is NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.
This facility is located on the northern edge of Rogers Dry Lake or about 3
miles (5 km) north of the main Edwards facility. Dryden is NASA's primary
facility for performing flight research on craft inside the Earth's atmosphere
and they have their own
Photo Tour: Click on
picture to enlarge
Pictures taken October 2003
Common during Edwards AFB Air Shows are aircraft reviews
that give the crowds a chance to compare different types of aircraft in
flight. Here, an A-10 Warthog (right) and a P-51 Mustang fly over
the flight line.
Driving across one of Edward AFB's taxiway to the designated
parking area. NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is in the background
(view is looking north).
Part of the flight line at Edwards.
The Air Shows at Edwards always bring out the big camera
In the hills to the southeast of Edwards are some curious-looking
structures. These are actually rocket engine test platforms but they
are not for sending rockets into the sky. Here, the rockets are pointed
upside-down for testing and are never actually launched. Almost all
rocket engines that have been used to launch vehicles into space by NASA
are test fired here. When driving along Highway 58, on the north side
of Edwards, you may be lucky and see a large plume of smoke suddenly appear
over one of these platforms which means that they are testing. This
division of the Edwards testing facility usually has its own display in
one of the hangers at the Edwards Air Show.
Another view of the rocket test platforms. The Joshua
Tree in the foreground identifies this picture as being taken in the Mojave
One of the long, wide runways on Rogers Dry Lake, made of
dried mud (Mother Nature's pavement), ends here and funnels onto a paved
One of the least-favorite attractions at an Edwards AFB
Air Show - traffic congestion at the West Gate. It is here, in line
to get into the Air Show, that we typically enjoy hearing Chuck Yeager open
the show as he flies by making a sonic boom.
Many of the static displays on the flight line allow visitors
to sit in the pilot's seat. Here, an enthusiastic 10 year old sits
in the cockpit of a C-141 and dreams of one day becoming a pilot.
Driving around Edwards, you'll see all kinds of assorted
"junk yards" where the pieces of many years of spent aeronautical experiments
are now kept.
A Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 sits on the flight line at Edwards.
A static display of one of the unusual UAV's (Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles) in one of the hangers. More and more
UAV's are being displayed at the Edwards Air Shows.
Read about the RQ-4A
Global Hawk UAV.
Side view of a the same UAV pictured above.
Another UAV parked in a hanger.
A V-22 Osprey "tiltrotor" aircraft sitting inside of one
of the hangers. The V-22 has an unfortunate history of being difficult
to fly because it is a completely different type of aircraft (half helicopter
and half airplane) and is here at Edwards because it is going through intense
Side view of the V-22. It can takeoff vertically,
like a helicopter, and then it tilt its two rotors forward to fly like an
airplane. This gives the V-22 the best features of both types of aircraft.
Designed to be a troop transport, the V-22 can carry 24
passengers and cruise at 315 mph (507 kph).