Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane ...
Actually it's four planes.
Sometime around 12:15 p.m. Friday, students and residents of Bakersfield and Tehachapi may want to step outside and turn their eyes skyward, and likely southward.
That’s when they should see a U.S. Air Force flight formation that will include a B-1B Lancer, two F-16 Falcons and a NASA F-18 Hornet streaking low across the sky. It’s all part of the double 70th anniversary celebration happening at Edwards Air Force Base in eastern Kern County on Friday and Saturday, Edwards AFB said in a news release.
That's when the base will celebrate both the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday and the 70th anniversary of the world’s first supersonic flight. It was Oct. 14, 1947, when a B-29 launch aircraft released the X-1 experimental rocket plane in which test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound.
It was also in 1947, on Sept. 18, that the U.S. Air Force officially became a separate branch of the nation's military. Previously, the U.S. Army Air Forces — and before that, the Army Air Corps — were still officially part of the U.S. Army.
Friday's flyovers are part of the 412th Test Wing's STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) outreach to area schools. And organizers provided a list of local schools along the flight path — area campuses the aircraft are scheduled to fly over.
They include Stockdale High School; Charles H. Castle Elementary; Amy B. Seibert Elementary; Planz Elementary; South High School; Fairfax Junior High; Tehachapi High, and other schools in eastern Kern County.
A second formation is scheduled to simultaneously take a flight path over several cities in Southern California.
Both flights paths will be at an altitude low enough for easy viewing by the public, and will take place between noon and 1 p.m., said an Edwards spokesman.
The largest of the planes, by far, will be the Boeing-manufactured B-1B.
Nicknamed "The Bone," the Lancer is a long-range, multi-mission, supersonic conventional bomber, which has served the U.S. Air Force since 1985, according to Boeing's website. The other three aircraft in the formation will be much smaller fighter jets.
The flights are part of a two-day event — an Edwards AFB Family Day on Friday and a Run with History event Saturday — that mark both the 70th anniversary of supersonic flight and the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday.
At 11 a.m. Friday, a ceremony on-base will pay homage to the milestone flight made seven decades ago. Yeager, 94, is expected to be present during the event, and retired Brig. Gen. Robert Cardenas, who flew the B-29 that carried the X-1 aloft, will speak during the ceremony. Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore is also expected to attend.
Friday’s events are not open to the public, but Saturday’s run is, with pre-registration.
Runners can register at tinyurl.com/yb4xn9n9.