The NASA SB-3 Viking research plan. Courtesy San Diego Air & Space Museum
A rare S-3B Viking aircraft from NASA considered pivotal to naval aviation history will arrive Tuesday in San Diego, where it will be permanently housed at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s El Cajon Gillespie Field Annex.
“The San Diego Air & Space Museum is honored to be the final home of the last flying S-3B Viking aircraft, one of the most iconic the annals of naval aviation history,” said Jim Kidrick, the museum’s president and CEO. “We are thrilled to display and share it with future generations of visitors to our Gillespie Field Annex in El Cajon. It is a truly worthy and welcome addition to our already impressive collection.”
NASA’s S-3B is the last flight-worthy Viking in the world. Originally designed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. Navy as an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the Viking was put out of active service by the U.S. Navy in 2009.
NASA’s S-3B Viking was completely reconfigured in 2006 for flight research purposes. All weapons systems were removed and replaced with civilian avionics, GPS, and satellite communications systems to conduct flight communications research.
One of its major contributions was helping NASA’s aeronautical innovators define communications standards that the Federal Aviation Administration can apply to the unmanned aircraft systems for safe operation in U.S. airspace.
The Viking departed Cleveland, Ohio, Tuesday morning and will stop in El Paso, Texas, where it will remain for an hour before departing for San Diego. After a scheduled flyover of North Island Naval Air Station, the aircraft will be flown to Gillespie Field, where it will land and taxi to its new home at the museum’s annex at 335 Kenney St.
The progress of NASA Flight 601 can be tracked in real time on FlightAware at https://flightaware.com/live/.
The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California’s official air and space museum and education center. The museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and is located in Balboa Park.
–City News Service