In The Western Skies

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An XP-59A Airacomet, America's first jet aircraft, sits on the flightline at Muroc Army Airfield, now Edwards Air Force Base, in 1943. (Air Force photograph)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Earlier this month, we marked two milestones in our nation’s history, both with a nexus here in the Aerospace Valley.

Seventy-eight years ago, at 7:55 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, our country was shaken out of its isolated complacency and pulled into World War II after Japanese aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor on a peaceful Sunday morning.

Following that attack, the Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, lamented the following:  “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

As a part of that resolve, the 41st Bombardment Group was immediately moved from its home station in Arizona to Muroc Bombing and Gunnery Range to prepare for deployment into a war that would span the next three and a half years.  That unit would go on to be cited with “extraordinary heroism” as they executed the first sustained strikes against the Japanese mainland during the war.

A C-53D D-Day Dolly sits in front of a B-52 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (Air Force photograph)

Eight years later, on Dec. 8, 1949, two years after our nation established the United States Air Force, Muroc Air Force Base was renamed Edwards Air Force Base in honor of Capt. Glen Edwards who had died in a crash of the Northrop YB-49 flying wing near Muroc in the summer of 1948.

Captain Edwards perished while shaping and molding America’s arsenal for the warfighter as “a pioneer of the Flying Wing in the western skies.”

On this 70th anniversary of the naming of Edwards Air Force Base, it is clear that a legacy of patriotic resolve and pioneering spirit lives on in each member of our amazing team here at the Center of the Aerospace Testing Universe.  May we be stellar stewards of this national treasure for the next seventy years as we provide world class test and evaluation for the warfighter here in the western skies.