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Stunning time-lapse video shows F-117A stealth fighter ‘Unexpected Guest’ rebuilt for Reagan Library


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A retired US Air Force F-117 Nighthawk that flew more secret missions than any other of the pioneering stealth aircraft, will be placed on display at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum for permanent exhibition.

The black, angular Nighthawk, tail number 803 and nicknamed ‘Unexpected Guest’, will be unveiled at the Simi Valley, California, museum in December, says the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. 

Reagan had been a proponent of the then top secret F-117 program when he had set out to rebuild the US military through his ‘Peace through Strength’, program, and even invited British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to join in on the development of what was to become the world’s first stealth fighter jet. 

   

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, California, will have its own retired US Air Force F-117 Nighthawk (pictured)

Reagan had even invited British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to join in on the development of what was to become the world's first stealth fighter jet

Reagan had even invited British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to join in on the development of what was to become the world’s first stealth fighter jet

Lockheed Martin released a time-lapse video that shows how Unexpected Guest was rolled out of moth balls on a flatbed truck on its way to the museum in mid-August.  

 

After having its highly-toxic, radar-absorbing skin removed, Unexpected Guest left the secretive Tonopha Test Range Airport in Nevada where it had been stored, bound for the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

The 60 second video shows Unexpected Guest covered in a black tarp without its wings on the road to the Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility. 

Lockheed Martin released a time-lapse video that shows how Unexpected Guest was rolled out of moth balls on a flatbed truck on its way to the museum in mid-August

Lockheed Martin released a time-lapse video that shows how Unexpected Guest was rolled out of moth balls on a flatbed truck on its way to the museum in mid-August

After having its highly-toxic, radar-absorbing skin removed, Unexpected Guest left the secretive Tonopha Test Range Airport in Nevada where it had been stored. The fighter is pictured being driven out of the state

After having its highly-toxic, radar-absorbing skin removed, Unexpected Guest left the secretive Tonopha Test Range Airport in Nevada where it had been stored. The fighter is pictured being driven out of the state 

Unexpected Guest is pictured at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California,  aircraft development facility. Skunk Works was where the F-117 and other well-known fighter jets were developed, including the U-2 bomber and Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Unexpected Guest is pictured at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California,  aircraft development facility. Skunk Works was where the F-117 and other well-known fighter jets were developed, including the U-2 bomber and Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

Unexpected Guest is pictured before having its wings reattached at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility.

Unexpected Guest is pictured before having its wings reattached at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility.

Skunk Works was where the F-117 and other well-known fighter jets were developed, including the U-2 bomber, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

The facility and foundation partnered on a project known as ‘Operation Nighthawk Landing’, to get the work done in time for a December 7 unveiling. 

Workers prepare to reattach one of Unexpected Guests wings at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

Workers prepare to reattach one of Unexpected Guests wings at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

Unexpected Guest is pictured with both its wings reattached at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

Unexpected Guest is pictured with both its wings reattached at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

Workers at Skunk Works begin repainting Unexpected Guest black, which was its original color. F-117s, which were only used on night missions, were painted black so they were even less detectable

Workers at Skunk Works begin repainting Unexpected Guest black, which was its original color. F-117s, which were only used on night missions, were painted black so they were even less detectable

The plane is to be displayed outside the museum, adjacent to a F-14 aircraft.

The F-117’s design allowed it to reflect radar waves, and was bolstered by the use of radar-absorbing material. 

The aircraft, intended only to be used at night, were painted black to make it even less detectable, says the foundation in a released statement. 

Unexpected guest is shown after it's museum conversion was completed at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

Unexpected guest is shown after it’s museum conversion was completed at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, a Palmdale, California, aircraft development facility

US President Ronald Reagan had been a proponent of the then top secret F-117 program when he had set out to rebuild the US military through his 'Peace through Strength', program

US President Ronald Reagan had been a proponent of the then top secret F-117 program when he had set out to rebuild the US military through his ‘Peace through Strength’, program

Lockheed made 59 Nighthawks and five developmental prototypes between 1981 and 2008. The planes were quietly entered into service in 1984 during the end of Reagan’s first term until they were publicly acknowledged four years later. 

Unexpected Guest bares the distinction of having flown 78 combat sorties, more than all other F-117s combined. The aircraft was part of the 416th Tactical Fighter Wing, ‘The Ghost Riders.’

‘I was privileged to fly the airplane when the program was classified’, says retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Scott Stimpert, who secretly piloted Unexpected Guest when it flew on its secret missions.

‘It was an exciting time, and a vitally important capability, but not something you could share with friends or family,’ he says in the foundation statement. 

‘I’m glad the airplane can come out of the dark to take its rightful place in the light, somewhere it can be seen and appreciated by the people it helped to protect’.  

A wheel well in F-117 Nighthawk Number 803 reveals its name, 'Unexpected Guest' (pictured).

A wheel well in F-117 Nighthawk Number 803 reveals its name, ‘Unexpected Guest’ (pictured).

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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