Taken earlier this month by photographer Dafydd Philips, the following spectacular video features two Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-35 Lightning II’s thundering through Star Wars Canyon, California.
Brought to my attention by Philips himself the clip in this post is the full version of a short video already appeared on several websites so it’s worth taking a look.
Noteworthy this cool footage clearly shows why the Rainbow Canyon, which is tucked in the western edge of Death Valley National Park and is known as “Star Wars Canyon,” is an aviation geek mecca.
Known as the Jedi Transition to the military, the canyon – that was carved by an ancient lava flow – is located near Naval Air Weapons Station (NAWS) China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), deep in the California desert. The area has been used for low altitude flight training since World War II, with the narrow rock walls too alluring for fighter pilots to pass up.
This creates the side benefit of giving observers and photographers the unique ability to look down on the jets as they scream by, afterburners lit.
The airspace around Star Wars Canyon, which got its nickname due to the reddish, rocky terrain that resembles the planet Tatooine from the film series, is used exclusively by military aircraft. Nevertheless since the canyon is in the National Park and accessible to the public, anyone can park at a site named Father Crowley Point (about a four hour drive east of Los Angeles) and take in the spectacle. There are even restrooms at the point.
But be warned: flight schedules are not posted and you could be there all day and not see a thing in the air but the occasional red-tailed hawk, which is cool but may not satisfy your need for speed.
Moreover in the summer months flights can be limited by the extreme: hot air in fact is less dense, which means less lift.
By contrast if you’re lucky, in just the space of an hour or so, you can get some amazing views of powerful fighter jets like RNLAF F-35s turning and burning.
As one of the original nine partner nations for the F-35, and the second international partner to receive the F-35, the Netherlands is a key contributor to the development, production and sustainment of the F-35 program.
In May 2016, the F-35 landed on Dutch soil for the first time, fulfilling a promise Dutch defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Passchaert made the previous year to show the nation the new fifth-gen fighter. While in the Netherlands, the F-35 performed several “experience flights” to allow the Dutch public to evaluate the difference between the F-35 and legacy fighters, the F-16, noise levels. According to Lockheed Martin the test results showed negligible differences between the two jets’ noise levels.
The F-35 is highly interoperable and functions as the center for sharing information across military forces. With the ability to integrate into existing systems, the Netherlands continues to be a valued partner and contributor to global security.
Photo credit: Dafydd Philips
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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