Photography Magazine

Boeing 747SP, SOFIA- Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy

By Htam

2019_TAM_8682_D500_AuroraHDR2019.jpg@ Moffett Field, CA

October 2019

NASA’s flying observatory, SOFIA, paid a visit to NASA Ames Research Center for a public event.  This aircraft is based at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Palmdale, CA and last appeared here in 2011.  The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) is an 80/20 joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to construct and maintain an airborne observatory which has operated since 2010.  Boeing developed the SP or “Special Performance” version of the 747 for ultra long range flights, modifying the design of the 747-100 by removing sections of the fuselage and heavily modifying others to reduce weight, thus allowing the 747SP to fly higher, faster and farther non-stop than any other 747 model of the time.  This aircraft was in service with United Airlines from 1986-1995, NASA acquired the aircraft in 1997.  At NASA’s invitation, Lindbergh’s grandson, Erik Lindbergh, re-christened the aircraft as Clipper Lindbergh, on May 21, 2007, the 80th anniversary of the completion of Charles Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight.  Nikon D500 w/18-200mm.

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