ATWATER, Calif. (KTXL) — The Castle Air Museum in Atwater welcomed its new arrival on Friday as crews unloaded a Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft.
The aircraft will undergo a full restoration at the Museum’s Restoration Hanger located at 3040 A Street.
Castle Air will be the only Northern California air museum to house this technological marvel and among few other museums in the country to display the stealth aircraft.
The F-117 was developed by Lockheed’s Skunk Work division in Burbank during the 1970s due to the increased number of surface-to-air missiles that had downed heavy bombers during the Vietnam War.
The odd triangular and pyramid like shape of the cockpit area inspired the Nighthawk’s nickname of “Hopeless Diamond” during its development.
The F-117 would become operationally capable in 1983 and it was kept secret from the public until November of 1988.
In April 1990, two F-117’s landed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada during daytime in front of a crowd of thousands of people.
Nearly 60 aircraft were made in total and some of them saw their first combat operations in 1991 over the night skies of Baghdad, Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
The Nighthawk was retired from service in 2006, but some do remain operational for for training and other purposes.