Though nearly 30 years old, Northrop's YF-23 looks more futuristic than most modern aircraft. More on this crazy plane later.
Though there are a bunch of real planes, this museum also features dozens of models, most design studies and wind-tunnel testers from the pre-computer days.
Amusingly, this model of the F/A-18 Hornet is bigger than the next aircraft you'll see...
As you'd expect, it's a tight squeeze to fit inside the simple cockpit.
There were six .50-caliber machine guns in the nose.
One of the feed lines for the starboard 20mm cannon.
The F-5A was capable of Mach 1.4 thanks to its GE J85 which produced 4,080 pounds of thrust.
Far more serious of a cockpit than the Bede, for far more serious of an aircraft.
Just slightly different from the glass cockpits found in modern planes such as the Cirrus VisionJet I flew this summer.
That one in the middle isn't a model at all, but a Northrop JB-1 Bat, one of Jack Northrop's flying-wing designs. This is the only remaining airframe of the manned version.
A Pratt & Whitney TF30, the first production turbofan with afterburner. It powered the F-111 and F-14A, among others.
A few examples of some engines from the pre-jet age. On the left is a Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial that developed over 1200hp. On the lower right is a 35hp Righter/Kiekhaefer O-45-35 two-cylinder used by the Navy for target drones. The big one in the back is a Pratt&Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major. It's got 28 cylinders and produced about 3,500 hp. This engine was used by a variety of big aircraft, including the B-36, which I saw at the incredible Pima Air and Space Museum.
Apparently adding an extra seat up front messed with the weight balance, so they elongated the tail. The result is a rather unique-looking Harrier.
Inside is a single Rolls-Royce Pegasus 11 Mk 103 was was capable of producing a massive 21,000 pounds of thrust.
Two nozzles on each side directed thrust anywhere in a 98.5-degree arc.
Also at the field is Robinson Helicopter, who make lightweight and relatively inexpensive helicopters.
Because it was originally designed for the Air Force, many components were changed to evolve the YF-17 into the F/A-18, including the landing gear, folding wings, and more.
Small and light, the F/A-18 is still in service today, 39 years after it first flew.
This A-4 Skyhawk was stationed in California and Japan in the late '50s. Some Skyhawks are still in service around the world.
Ah yes, the iconic F-14. According to Neil, the docent who showed us around, visiting kids from around the world always recognize this aircraft above all the others and say "Tomcat."
Back to that futuristic YF-23. Only two were built, as demonstration craft for the Air Force's search for a new stealth fighter. The other is at National Museum of the United States Air Force in Ohio.
Note the offset air intakes. There's an S-duct inside so radar couldn't bounce off the engines themselves (which are mounted more inboard than the intakes).
Though it was well liked, and rumor has it preferred, by its test pilots, the Air Force chose Lockheed Martin's plane that would become the F-22.
The engine exhaust is mounted above the fuselage to help reduce the heat signature.
These are the same tiles that were used on the Space Shuttle.
There was one last chance for the YF-23, a possible light bomber based on the design from Northrop. That didn't happen either, however.
This surprised me. It's an analog flight sim from before WWII. There are a few dozen level, and I just recently saw another one at a different small and not-well-known air museum: the Malta Aviation Museum.