This is fun. I grew up during this time and vividly remember the progression of stealth: first news reports of stealth aircraft when President Carter talked about an “invisible bomber,” to it’s confirmation on the opening night of Operation Just Cause in Panama, through Desert Storm and later watching one on radar (or trying to) at my ATC facility as it came into our airspace and down final, and ultimately working what I was told was the last 117 enroute to be mothballed. (I don’t know if that’s fact but we were told that that day was scheduled as the last 117 flights to being mothballed.)
I was also flying out of Indianapolis and preparing to leave my crash pad enroute to the airport when the SLUF (A-7) from the stealth fighter squadron (what stealth fighters?) crashed into an Indy hotel. The first official acknowledgment that they existed was of course Panama, which I learned of it as I dragged into the pilot’s lounge at FedEx in Memphis about 3:00 a.m. and the news was reporting Operation Just Cause (Operation Just ‘Because’ as some wags put it) and the place was abuzz with talk about “they’re finally telling us what everybody already knows that there are stealth fighters out there.”. For many reasons beyond the war, that is still a very memorable night.
Anyway, I really wasn’t all that interested in stealth technology but I was really amused at all the attempts to figure it out and make models of it ahead of time. I remember when Testors jumped everybody and got their model out before anybody else. Along with it Soviet pal, the Ferret. So with all that in mind, you all may be amused this story: