The F-117 Nighthawk was unveiled at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum on December 7, 2019, at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony during the Reagan Foundation and Institute’s annual Reagan National Defense Forum. The jet is located outdoors near the Library’s F-14 aircraft, situated on the west side of the Library’s property and clearly visible from inside the Library’s famous auditorium.
“The Reagan Library will now be one of two places in the nation where the general public can visit an F-117 Stealth Fighter on permanent display,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. “We are deeply grateful to Lockheed Martin for their outstanding assistance in restoring the aircraft for such a meaningful display and to the U.S. Air Force for making it possible for the Reagan Library to exhibit the plane for millions of visitors to enjoy for years to come.”
The F-117 Nighthawk was the world’s first operational stealth aircraft. Between 1981 and 2008, Lockheed Martin produced 59 operational F-117s and five developmental prototypes, but the aircraft weren’t publicly acknowledged until 1988. Known as “stealth fighters,” the F-117’s angular shape was designed to reflect radar waves and was bolstered by the use of a radar-absorbing material. Because the aircraft was only expected to operate at night, it was painted black to make it more difficult to discern against the night sky.
“I was privileged to fly the airplane when the program was classified,” said Lt Col Scott Stimpert, USAF (ret), a pilot for the F-117 tail number 803 going on display at the Reagan Library. “It was an exciting time, and a vitally important capability, but not something you could share with friends or family. I’m glad the airplane can come out of the dark to take its rightful place in the light, somewhere it can be seen and appreciated by the people it helped to protect.”
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett cuts the ribbon, officially unveiling the F-117 to the public.
Learn how exactly this F-117 was brought out of retirement, refurbished, and brought to its new home in Simi Valley. Video courtesy Lockheed Martin.