MiG-29 and N105TB

This trip started a year of research into the activities of Gulfstream II N105TB and other similar aircraft.  On this visit to Tikaboo Peak we watched, filmed and recorded audio of a Sukhoi 27 flying low level over Groom Lake and the aircraft shown above, a Mig-29 and a business jet type aircraft flying racetrack patterns at medium level over Groom Lake in the company of a flare-dispensing F-16.

















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The business jet took a little time to identify; as seen in the photograph it has underwing pods and bumps.  However, as it appeared to be an older model Gulfstream with Spey engines and some blue trim is visible on the rudder it was relatively easy to come to the conclusion that this is N105TB operated by the Massachussetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Labs on behalf of the Department of Defense.  There were no photos of N105TB itself but we were pointed at World Air Power Journal ca 1998 which had an article on special mission Gulfstreams and included a photo of N200CC wearing underwing pods and sporting a blue rudder and trim.


There have been suggestions in the discussion forums at www.dreamlandresort.com that Lincoln Labs have a hangar at the northern end of Groom Lake airbase so having watched the Gulfstream - callsign Cowboy 3 - land at Groom Lake this seemed reasonable.  And once I started tracking the movements of N105TB via commercially available flight tracking programs on the internet such as www.fboweb.com  www.red1aviation.com we gathered far more information regarding its activities, or lack of, as much of the time it is locked up in its hangar at Bedford, Mass.  Using www.flightexplorer.com in combination with the other tracking programs we can watch it flying in real time (well - delayed by a few mins after 9/11) across the USA and even the www.passur.com sites intended for noise monitoring around airports are useful as these can be used in near real time or historically to display the aircraft.  The point here is although N105TB files flight plans e.g. BED-LAS via SPI and PUB we can see that it doesn't land at Las Vegas McCarran but generally tracks north east from Las Vegas to the Desert Rock (DRA) area where it changes to a Nellis Control and a military SSR code and as such stops tracking.  As it does this at say 15000feet on the normal entry route for a Janet 737 going to Groom Lake, it all adds up to a Groom Lake (not Las Vegas) arrival.






Text Box: Tikaboo Peak 8-Apr-2003
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