Palmdale Regional Airport & United States Air Force Plant 42 (Plant 42) (IATA: PMD, ICAO: KPMD, FAA LID: PMD) is a classified United States Government aircraft manufacturing plant, used by the United States Air Force. It is also used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an airport in Palmdale, California. Palmdale Army Airfield was declared a surplus facility in 1946 and was purchased by Los Angeles County for use as a municipal airport. The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 caused the Air Force to reactivate the property for use in final assembly and flight testing of military jet aircraft. Both the 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 that became Plant 42 fit these criteria. Consequently, the Air Force agreed to purchase the land from Los Angeles County in 1951. Aerospace contractors at Air Force Plant 42 share a common runway complex, and either lease building space from the Air Force (an arrangement commonly referred to as a "GOCO," or Government Owned Contractor Operated) or own their own buildings outright (e.g., Lockheed Martin Skunk Works). There are eight production sites specially suited for advanced technology and/or "black" programs. Currently, the most well-known contractors at Plant 42 are Boeing, Lockheed Martin (home of the legendary Skunk Works), and Northrop Grumman. Previously, the facilities were operated by IT&T; McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft; Lockheed California, Norair, a Division of Northrop; and Lockheed Air Terminal .
Lockheed's famed "Skunk Works" (a location for black projects), which developed such aircraft as the U-2, SR-71 Blackbird and F-117 Nighthawk, is at Site 10 of the complex (actually private property with secure access to Plant 42's airfield), near Sierra Highway. 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 and assembled 250 Lockheed L-1011 L-1011 TriStar wide body jetliners at their manufacturing plant located at the airport from 1968 to 1984.
Since then, the plant has supported facilities for the production, engineering, final assembly and flight testing of high performance aircraft. During the 1980s it was used by Lockheed to produce the U-2/TR-1 and support the SR-71. Northrop produced the F-5E, and Rockwell supported the B-1B Lancer.
The Blackbird Airpark Museum and the adjacent Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark (Now "Joe Davies 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 Series fighters and other aircraft designed, engineered, manufactured, and flight tested at its facilities.
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