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The Future of Flying



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Hard to See—On Radar and Through a Camera
Photograph by Joe McNally

A new F/A-22 Raptor is steadied by a kevlar rope hanging from the ceiling inside a test chamber at Lockheed Martin's plant in Marietta, Georgia. After each plane comes off the assembly line and is painted, technicians here bombard it with radar signals from all angles using a giant turntable to test its stealthy shape and radar-absorbent coatings. The Raptor is so stealthy that when photographer Joe McNally placed radio-controlled flashes on the far side of the aircraft, they often failed to go off. The plane deflected the camera's signal in one of the same ways it thwarts radar—like some high-tech vampire reluctant to have its picture taken.

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon D100
Film Type: Lexar Compact/Media
Lens: 12-24mm f/4 zoom
Speed and F-Stop: Two seconds @ f/8
Weather Conditions: Indoors
Time of Day: 4 a.m.
Lighting Techniques: Strobes and incandescent lighting
Special Equipment or Comments: The craft was selectively lit to reflect the classified nature of the aircraft and facility. My assistants and I were the first civilian photo crew allowed by Lockheed to photograph in this facility.


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