I don’t quite remember when i took the following photos of the F-117, but it must have been sometime in the early ’90s. The photos are from both the Mirabel airshow and the airshow at St. Hubert.
For an aircraft nut like myself, being able to see and get up close to the stealth aircraft was something special indeed. However, no one was allowed to get up to close.
No digital cameras back then, at least none that i was able to afford. These photos were taken by a simple 35mm, point & shoot film camera.
As you can see, my composition was not all to bad, but still off in some instances. I will always remember the viewfinder on my film camera, it was ever so clear and large.
The Nighthawk was retired back in 2008, so you will not see this aircraft at any airshows these days. Despite it’s technology being revolutionary, it was still 1970’s era technology that was going up against smarter radar technology when it started to see combat in the ’90s and the first years of the 21st century.
In 1999, an F-117 was lost while on a combat mission in Yugoslavia. It was shot down by a SA-3 surface to air missile system operated by the Yugoslav army.
The radar unit of the SA-3 was able to detect the F-117 once the aircraft had opened it’s bomb bay doors. The fatal missile was launched from 8 miles away.
The pilot survived and the remains of the shot down F-117 are now on display at a museum in Belgrade.
Despite developing new tactics for F-117 pilots, the aircraft was eventually retired due to the high cost of maintenance and the fact that more streamlined shapes for stealth aircraft were being generated by computers.
It was a real treat to be able to see this airplane and take photos of it. If you are interested in seeing an F-117 up close, you will only be able to see one in a museum these days. Though, the aircraft on display in the museums are but the prototypes (YF-117A) and have never seen any combat.
The F-117s that saw service, are all in storage in Tonopah in their climate controlled hangars. However, it has been reported that an F-117 has been seen out on the Nellis bombing range as recently as 2013.
Thanks for looking.
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