F/A-18A HORNET
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Federal Airfield, CA
(formerly NAS Moffett Field)

BuNo 161521

(Click on thumbnails for larger photos)

Photo courtesy NASA's Ames Research Center Moffett Federal Airfield, CA

This aircraft was no easy find. I saw a photo on the Internet that only showed a partial view of the Hornet. Sent a couple of emails to a museum at Moffett Field but received no reply. So during a 6 hour layover at San Francisco, I rented a car and drove down to Moffett Field to see if I could locate the aircraft and get the Bu No.

Was able to get through the main gate and drove out to one of the hangars that I thought it might be and asked some Air National Guard people if they knew anything about a blue F/A-18. They indicated that there was a blue Hornet parked in hanger #3 and told me it was OK to just walk in a take a look around.

Much to my surprise, there she was, just inside the hangar. As I walked up to her I could see that this aircraft was just painted a solid blue with NASA identification and no Bu No. Feeling disappointment, I took some pictures and was

about to leave when I decided to take a closer look and see if I could detect any kind of identification. As I was touching the fuselage I could feel something embossed under the paint and upon closer inspection, was able to see the outline of "Blue Angels" and then I got excited. Bu No 161521 was one of the original Hornets to be flown by the Blue Angels. She flew the #3 position in her final year with the team. A real find!

Tom Bispo

Upon returning home, I made contact with Mr. Pete Zell at the NASA Ames Wind Tunnel Operations Division, and Pete was able to provide me with the following information:

The photos were taken in 1991, during set-up for F/A-18 High Alpha Fighter Testing, High Angle-of-Attack Aerodynamics in the 80x120ft Wind Tunnel. The largest wind tunnel in the world is at NASA's Ames Research Center. This subsonic tunnel, which can test planes with wing spans of up to 100 feet, is over 1,400 feet long and 180 feet high. It has two test sections: one 80 feet high and 120 feet wide, the other 40 feet high and 80 feet wide. Air is driven through these test sections by six 15-bladed fans. Each fan has a diameter equal to the height of a four-story building. The fans are powered by six 22,500-horsepower motors. 

http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html

Bu No 161521 History

Manufactured in May 1982.
Total Flight Hrs: 1614.9
Total Landings: 1989
Total Arrests: 89
Total Cats: 79

161521 did tours with: NAVPRO MDC STL, May 82 - Jun 82, 4.2 Hrs TSN (Time Since New)

VX-5, Jun 82 - Oct 82, 193.2 Hrs TSN, 63 Arrests, 62 Cat Shots
VX-4, Nov 82 - Apr 84, 632.7 Hrs TSN, 18 Arrests, 17 Cat Shots
VFA-125, May 84 - Jan 86, 842.9 Hrs TSN, 0 Arrests, 0 Cat Shots
NARF NORIS, Feb 86 - Oct 86, No Flight Activity
NAD NORIS, Nov 86 - Dec 86, 856.7 Hrs TSN, 0 Arrests, 0 Cat Shots
NFDS (Blue Angels) Jan 87 - Oct 89, 1614.9 Hrs TSN
NFAC (NASA's National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex) Oct 89 - Present

NASA Ames Research Center
Moffett Federal Airfield, CA
(formerly NAS Moffett Field)