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NASA's F/A-18 taking off from Ellington Field.

NASA’s F/A-18 Research Jet is Just Plain Beautiful

Take a moment and just stare at this beautiful airplane. Whether or not you have an interest in aeronautics or are a part of the aviation community in some way, there’s no denying this NASA F/A-18 aircraft just exudes power and grace in flight. Based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, the agency uses these aircraft to support research of all types. Sometimes they carry an experiment on board, such as when a radar system potentially destined for use by a Mars lander was tested. Other times the aircraft is used to “chase” different types of research aircraft to provide another set of eyes on what’s happening and/or to capture images and video. In the case of this image, this F/A-18 is seen taking off from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. During a series of flights over Galveston, Texas in 2018, NASA’s F/A-18 flew a number of well-scripted trajectories to generate sonic booms that were quieter than normal. The quiet sonic thumps were aimed at the Gulf Coast community to see if residents below could hear them. The research was part of NASA’s Low-Boom Flight Demonstration Mission that will include use of the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology airplane now being assembled in Palmdale, California. Text credit: Jim Banke, Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate

Image Credit: NASA / Carla Thomas

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