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History of the Boom: Edwards AFB Air Show revisits the history of Supersonic Flight

  • Published
  • By Katherine Franco
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

Edwards Air Force Base, has staged test flights for generations of the Air Force's most advanced aircraft. While it has been testing US military aircraft since the mid-1940s, the Bell XS-1's supersonic flight in the Mojave Desert made Edwards famous and paved the way for decades of flying experiments.

In 1944, researchers for the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) met with representatives of the Navy and Army to discuss breaking the sound barrier. At the time, the Army rejected the idea, but continued to advocate for such an effort.

On October 14, the sound barrier was officially broken, and the phenomenon known as the “sonic boom” was first experienced. The risky mission by the Bell X1 team to achieve supersonic flight proved Edward’s value for flight testing experimental aircraft. Using the unique airspace above and around the field, in less than 15 years, Air Force experimental aircraft would approach speeds of Mach 6 over Edwards.

Conditions suited for supersonic flight testing to break the sound barrier in 1947 still exist at Edwards today. This allows Edwards to be one of the only over-land areas aircraft can legally surpass speeds in excess of Mach 1, primarily due to the impact of sonic booms. For this reason, the R-2508 complex remains a critical asset in the skies above for the United States and its allies.

NASA, a key partner at Edwards, is currently working to reduce sonic booms to a ‘sonic thump’ with the X-59 aircraft. Anticipated to take flight in the near future, the research aircraft will eventually fly across the United States, with the data potentially paving a way forward for supersonic flight over land. Until that time arrives, Edwards will remain one of the only spots humans can experience the thunderous occurrence.

Thanks to the accomplishments of the Bell X1 team, modern fighter jets can easily reach supersonic speeds. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of supersonic flight, Edwards will host the 2022 Aerospace Valley Air Show & STEM Expo, Oct. 15-16. The weekend will kick-off with a closed ceremony dedicated to the future of supersonic flight, with several sonic booms planned throughout the weekend.

Learn how you can become involved with this landmark event.

Edwards provides care, opportunities for children aged six weeks through high school graduation

Edwards provides care, opportunities for childrenaged six weeks through high school graduation

The Child and Youth Program at Edwards AFB provides care and opportunities for kids ages six weeks old through high school graduation. A brief summary of those services follows:

  •                    The Child Development Center cares for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, with a DOD-wide curriculum. The curriculum is focused on learning through play activities supporting social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Installations across DOD follow the curriculum on the same timeline to allow seamless permanent change-of-station transitions for youth enrolled in care.
  •                    The School Age Center provides before and after-school care and summer camp for children ages 5 to 12. During school breaks, full-day camps are offered. SAC promotes cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, language and physical development through programs that encourage self-confidence, curiosity, self-discipline and resiliency.
  •                    The open recreation program at the Main Youth Center provides a safe space for ages 9 to 12 to attend after school. Programs include Power Hour, STEM, Torch Club, social recreation, youth camps, special events and more.
  •                    The youth sports program provides intro and league opportunities for ages 3 to 12, and promotes inclusiveness, self-discipline, commitment, resiliency and social skills. There are four sports offered annually for ages five to 12: baseball/softball, soccer, flag football and basketball. Smart start programs are available to ages 3 to 5. There are many other sports and camps offered throughout the year.
  •                    The Teen Center is available for ages 13 to 18 during the school year. Programs offered include Military Youth of the Year, Keystone Club, social recreation, STEM activities, college trips, leadership camps and more.
  •                    Youth programs (SAC, open rec and teen) are affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 4-H.
  •                    Family Child Care homes – there are currently three FCC homes on the installation. They can provide care for ages two weeks to 12 years. FCC providers are trained by Child and Youth Program training and curriculum specialists and have the flexibility to determine their hours of operation and the ages of youth within their care. The program’s new dedicated manager, Jennifer Stegmann, may be reached at 661-275-7529.

Although CDC enrollment capacity is 317, not all slots are currently filled because of a shortage of childcare workers. School Age Center enrollment capacity is 156. After-school care enrollment is 130. Before-school care enrollment is 75. Summer Camp 2022 was at its capacity and enrollment for Summer Camp 2023 opens April 3.