History

An Extraordinary Past, Present—and Future.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and future flight advances yet to be discovered—they are all being imagined, built, tested and refined every day at Edwards Air Force Base. Learn about our history of achievements and about the engineering history we continue to make today.

History at a Glance
The 1930s – Airmen Arrive 
  • September 1933: The Muroc Bombing and Gunnery Range is established by Lt. Col. H.H. “Hap” Arnold
  • Throughout the years of World War II, B-24s and P-36s thunder through the Muroc skies
The 1940s – Strange Shapes in the Sky
  • October 1, 1942: The Bell XP-59A Aircomet lifts off. The turbojet revolution arrives
  • During the postwar years, America’s first generation of jets, both Air Force and Navy, undergo testing at Muroc
  • October 14, 1947, Captain Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager flies on the Bell X-1 and becomes the first human to exceed the speed of sound
  • December 1949: Muroc is renamed Edwards Air Force Base in honor of Capt. Glen W. Edwards
The 1950s – The Golden Age of Flight Test
  • June 25, 1951: The base test community is designated the U.S. Air Force Test Center
  • November 20, 1951: Scott Crossfield becomes the first man to reach Mach 2—less than a month later, Major Chuck Yeager sets a new record of Mach 2.44 (1,650 mph)
  • September 1956: Captain Iven Kincheloe becomes the first man to soar above 100,000 feet
  • September 27, 1956: Captain Mel Apt becomes the first human to exceed Mach 3
The 1960s – The Space Age
  • The X-15 becomes the first, and only, airplane to fly in near space
  • The highly modified X-15A-2 reaches a top speed of Mach 6.72 (4,520 mph), which remains the highest speed ever to be attained by an airplane
  • The mysterious Blackbird, described as the first-generation “stealth” aircraft, routinely cruises at speeds in excess of Mach 3 and at altitudes well above 80,000 feet

Modern Skies

  • The 1970s: New aircraft types arise: the F-15 Eagle, the single engine F-16 Falcon, and the B-1 Lancer
  • 1978 and 1979: Testing leads to the development of the F-117A Nighthawk—the stealth revolution is underway
  • 10:20 a.m., April 14, 1981: The wheels of the Space Shuttle Columbia touch down at Edwards. The era of reusable space vehicles has dawned
  • The B-2 Spirit, representing third-generation stealth technology, is introduced in the late 1980’s
  • The F-22 became the first airplane to blend stealth with agility and high-speed supersonic cruise capability
  • February 1998: The Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle later used in Afghanistan, makes its first flight at Edwards
  • October 2000: The X-35A and the X-32A, competing models for the Joint Strike Fighter program (JSF), make their test flights
Today
  • The Joint Strike Fighter is testing all of its systems and technologies to ready it for final deployment
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are stretching remote flight capabilities to previously unimagined levels
  • Sensor-fusion technologies are driving new breakthroughs
  • The next generation of yet-to-be-revealed technologies is destined for Edwards—we’ll tell you more when you get here