- Plant 42
United States Air ForcePlant 42 (AFP 42) is a federally owned military aerospacefacility under the control of the Air Force Material Command(AFMC) in Palmdale, California. Aerospace contractors at Air Force Plant 42 share a common runway complex and either lease building space from the Air Force, or own their own building outright (commonly referred to as GOCO, or Government Owned Contractor Operated). There are eight separate production sites specially suited for advanced technology and/or "black" program projects. Currently the most well known contractors at Plant 42 are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.
Located in the southern
Antelope Valley, Plant 42 is strategically located near Los Angeles area defense and aerospace contractor companies, as well as Edwards Air Force Base's high-speed test corridors used under the direction of the base's Air Force Flight Test Center(AFFTC). It is 65 miles (105 km) from the LA Civic Center and 37 miles (60 km) from Edwards' flightline.
Plant 42 controls over 5,800 acres (23 km²) of
Mojave Desertland north of Avenue P and south of Columbia Way (Avenue M). The western border is Sierra Highway, and the Plant extends east to around 40th Street East south of Avenue N to Avenue P and 50th Street East north of Avenue N to Columbia Way (Avenue M). It has two runways: 4/22, and 7/25. Runway 7/25 was built to withstand an 8.3 Richter Scale earthquake, and, because of its status as one of the world's strongest runways, is a tremendous asset to the Antelope Valley and to California's infrastructureand economy. Plant 42 currently has an employment level of around 6,400 and has a combined annual payroll of over $320 million (USD).Fact|date=December 2007 It generally ranks third overall as the Antelope Valley's largest employer, trailing only Edwards Air Force Base and Los Angeles Countyin the number of workers employed.
The property now called Plant 42 was first activated as an emergency air landing strip in 1940 prior to the entry of the United States in
World War II. It also provided B-25 training to military aviators during the war. Declared surplus by the federal government in 1946, it became a commercial airport for Los Angeles County. The outbreak of the Korean Warin 1950 caused the Air Force to reactivate the property for use in final assembly and flight testing of military jet aircraft.
Both the U. S. Air Force and its aircraft contractors needed a location away from major population centers - due to sonic booms, other noises and security concerns - but close enough to the major centers of aircraft design and production, while having excellent flying weather the year around. The land which became Plant 42 fit the bill perfectly from the perspectives of all the concerned interests in military aircraft and national defense. Consequently, the Air Force agreed to purchase the land from Los Angeles County in 1951. Lockheed put together a master plan for the property per its Air Force contract, and after the approval of this master plan in 1953, the County transferred ownership of the land to the Federal Government in 1954. Since then Lockheed, looked upon with favor by the Air Force at this time, established its permanent presence at Plant 42. Its first step in doing so was to sign a lease in 1956 for 237 acres (1 km²) for use in its Air Force support programs of manufacturing aircraft and flight testing.
Skunk Works(black project workers), which developed such aircraft as the U-2, SR-71 Blackbirdand F-117 Nighthawk, is at Site 10 of the complex (actually private property with secure access to Plant 42 airfield), near Sierra Highway, and relocated to Plant 42 from its original Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport(now Bob Hope Airport) site in Burbank after the end of the Cold War. Its present hangar was constructed in 1968 and the outer walls of the structure were put up in a matter of days. Its hangar originally was built for the Lockheed L-1011Tristar passenger jet project.
Civilian air transport operations
Los Angeles World Airports(LAWA), a department of the City of Los Angeles, and the U.S. Air Force came to an agreement concerning use of the Plant 42 complex's facilities and land for commercial use. The agreement allows a maximum of 400 flights per day. LAWA has used Plant 42's facilities in past years when at one point in the early 1990s several airlines used the Palmdale Regional Airportterminal sited on Plant 42. This civilian terminal was unused from 1998 to 2004; on December 29, 2004 civilian use resumed when Scenic Airlinesbegan scheduled service to North Las Vegas, Nevada, although that service officially terminated in January 2006. United Airlinesbegan daily service to San Francisco International Airportin June 2007.
Current projects include design, engineering, pre-production, production, modification, flight testing, servicing and repair mission related activities to the following:
Past projects included:
* Each of the
* Modernization of the
Space Shuttle Columbia's cockpit area
Lockheed L-1011Tristar passenger jet
and many, many others besides these few.
Blackbird Airpark and the adjacent [http://www.cityofpalmdale.org/airpark Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark] have recently been opened on Plant 42 property along Avenue P (both are free to the public) with displays of the SR-71, U-2,
Century Seriesfighters and other aircraft designed, engineereed, manufactured, and flight tested at its facilities. The Blackbird Airpark is an extension of the AFFTC Museum at Edwards AFB, while the Heritage Airpark is operated by the City of Palmdale. Both are manned by retirees who had previously worked in the aerospace industry, some actually having worked on the aircraft displayed at the two parks. All of the aircraft have been carefully restored for public display. Operating hours of the airparks are the same - Friday through Sunday (except in inclement weather) from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. Pacific Time. On Federal Government holidays both airparks are closed. The two airparks are located at Avenue P and 25th Street East near Site 9.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) operates its Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) at its site on Plant 42 by Avenue P and 25th Street East. This center controls and tracks aircraft for the western United States, and covers non-local aircraft communication needs flying over California,
Arizona, Nevada, and Utah. The center's staff, which also is made up of personnel in other locations outside the Antelope Valley, was recognized for outstanding service in the FAA and aviation industry in 2004.
California World War II Army Airfields
* [http://www.edwards.af.mil/partners/docs_html/afplant42.html Edwards Air Force Base]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/afp-42.htm GlobalSecurity.org/John Pike]
* [http://www.abovetopsecret.com/pages/plant42.html Plant 42: Link Between Groom Lake and California's Antelope Valley]
* [http://www.dreamlandresort.com/black_projects/plant42.htm Air Force Plant 42]
* [http://www.air-and-space.com/palmdale990924.htm Palmdale, Summer 1999]
* [http://www.edwards.af.mil/museum/docs_html/blackbird_airpark.html Blackbird Airpark]
* [http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=34.625732,-118.093880&sll=34.619629,-118.160324&spn=0.081711,0.126343&sspn=0.232422,0.465738&t=k&hl=en Google Maps satellite photo of Plant 42]
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