Stealth Jet Reappears Along with Unconfirmed Claims of F/A-18 Canyon Flights.
Ace aviation photographer Mr. Toshihiko Shimizu, known as “pam_st112” on Instagram, captured several photos of an elusive F-117 Nighthawk aka “Wobblin’ Goblin” that has been seen flying on rare occasions in the Death Valley area. Mr. Shimizu shared three photos of the aircraft that he said were taken at “around 9:30” in the morning on Wednesday, Mar.F 18, 2020.
Mr. Shimizu told TheAviationist.com in an interview that, “I was at the east end of Star Wars Canyon. At 9:36 am, I found a black shadow in the sky of the west side of the canyon. After I looked in my camera, I found it’s F-117. It came from the south, then turned right and headed to north. 5 minutes later, it came back from south again, and flew the same course. [At] 10:27, it came back again from south. It seemed to fly the same course. After that, it didn’t come back again.” Mr. Shimizu shot the photos using a Nikon D7200 with a Nikkor 200-500mm lens. He shared three frames on Instagram of the remarkable sighting.
We have often reported that, despite having officially retired it in 2008, the U.S. Air Force is still flying the F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft at Tonopah Test Range (TTR). Click here to read the article published last year with the full account of all the sightings since then.
Yesterday’s sighting of the F-117 comes a week after reports began to surface on social media that F/A-18s had made passes through Star Wars Canyon. The claimed sightings of aircraft back in the canyon, if accurate, may signal a potential renewal of training in the canyon itself, although TheAviationist.com has received no direct, military verification of this information.
One credible civilian source, The Panamint Springs Resort, told TheAviationist.com in a March 12, 2020 interview via text message that, “I have confirmation that Father Crowley is open again and jets are resuming flights through the canyon”.
Aviation enthusiasts and photographers familiar with the Father Crowley Point/Star Wars Canyon area were skeptical of the claims that aircraft had actually flown down inside the canyon last week, suggesting that the normal flights of aircraft in the region had caused the report to surface. The photographers claim the aircraft were flying at low level in the area, but not actually inside the canyon where they were frequently photographed prior to a deadly July 13, 2019 accident. That accident claimed the life of U.S. Navy Lt. Charles Z. Walker, 33, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, the “Vigilantes” based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore, California. Lt. Walker’s Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet struck the side of the canyon wall on July 13, 2019, killing Walker and injuring seven park visitors who were standing at the top of the canyon according to spokesman Patrick Taylor of the National Park Service.
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Okey, guys. So this happened to me today at Starwars Canyon. I arrived at the canyon around 9:30, and this guy showed up over the west side of the canyon. It was 5 minutes after my arriving. It circled twice, then gone. And about 30 minutes after, it came back the same area of the sky. Then I couldn’t see it again after that. ー まさかの2020年初のF117目撃者になってしまいました😂 DMは炎上状態です笑 9:30ごろに谷に到着して5分ぐらいでしょうか、いわゆる#スターウォーズキャニオン の西側上空に現れました。 旋回して2周した後にどこかへ消え、30分後にまた同じ場所に現れました。 まさか自分が遭遇するとは…
Some photographers in the area have grown increasingly protective of information about aircraft in Star Wars Canyon or Rainbow Canyon, citing growth in the number of photographers and tourists to the area as a concern. Social media groups dedicated to photography of aircraft in the canyon were made private and anyone suspected of reporting on flight activity were removed from the groups, including this reporter. The area is a National Park open to the public with established viewing areas and parking. However, people are still visiting the area. As done by Mr. Toshihiko Shimizu, who had the chance to get up close and personal with the iconic stealth jet.