Today in History – June 18, 1981 – First flight of the YF-117A Nighthawk

18 June 1981 – “At 6:05 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time (1305 UTC), the first Full-Scale Development Lockheed YF-117A Nighthawk, 79-10780, made its first flight at Groom Lake, Nevada, with “Skunk Works” test pilot Harold C. (“Hal”) Farley, Jr. at the controls. The super-secret airplane was made of materials that absorbed radar waves and built with the surfaces angled so that radar signals are deflected away from the source.

Hal Farley is a former U.S. Naval Aviator who spent eight years testing F-14 Tomcat fighters for Grumman before going to work at Lockheed’s “Skunk Works.” He flew the Have Blue proof-of-concept prototype and the Senior Trend F-117 program. When he retired from Lockheed, Farley had more that 600 flight hours in the F-117s. His call sign is “Bandit 117.”

Commonly called the “Stealth Fighter,” the Nighthawk is actually a tactical bomber. Five developmental aircraft and 59 operational F-117As were built. They were in service from 1983 until 2008 when the Lockheed F-22 Raptor was planned to assume their mission. They are mothballed and could be returned to service if needed.”

Click here to see video of the 1st flight

Source: ThisDayinAviation by Bryan R. Swopes c. 2018

Scroll to Top