The 418th Flight Test Squadron has a special place in my heart–that was the squadron I called home while I lived and worked at Edwards AFB, CA. I worked with some amazing people, and they stood beside me as I walked with my family through some hardships. Here are 4 questions you might ask about the 418th FLTS.
The 418th FLTS carries its control room with it (in the massive cargo compartment of its airplanes) on almost every flight test mission.
1. What kind of airplanes do they fly?
The Global Reach CTF flies, or has flown, more than five different kinds of airplanes right now:
It also recently tested the CV-22, X-55, and more, and it will soon fly the KC-46.
There are also more than four different kinds of test team members in the 418th FLTS.
2. What is a CTF?
A combined test force (CTF) is an Air Force squadron, contractors (like Boeing), civil servants, engineers, and business team specialists–these all work under one roof to get the test mission done effectively, to deliver airplanes to the warfighter.
What kind of flight test are they doing?
1. Experimental flight test – like biofuel testing in the C-17
2. Developmental flight test – certification of aircraft avionics upgrades like the C-130 AMP
3. Combined DT and Operational Test & Evaluation – the C-17 test team invited OT&E personnel to ride along during 7-ship formation flight testing here.
4. NASA and other agency flight testing – the video below shows NASA noise testing on the C-17 as a testbed.
Where is the 418th FLTS located?
The 418th makes it home on the flightline at Edwards AFB, CA, home of the Air Force Flight Test Center. This unique base in the middle of the Antelope Valley high desert boasts a national treasure in the airspace above it, designed with flight test in mind, as seen here in this graphic.
I could ramble on about the 418th for quite a while, but if you want to know more about life as a test pilot or FTE, check out Launch Your Flight Test Career posts or consider reading You Can Be a Test Pilot.
Every Wednesday features the current events and connections column both here and on twitter. You can also search this website for the tags “current-events” or “connect” or link to this page of flight test organizations to access all of these posts.