Stealth Fighter. Nighthawk. The Black Jet. Each name for the F-117 is ominous and the feeling is intensified by its strange futuristic appearance, all flat surfaces and sharp edges. Those odd angles scatter radar waves to effectively render the aircraft nearly undetectable. All other design considerations came second to radar invisibility, even aerodynamics. As a result, the F-117 is wildly unstable; four separate computer systems continuously monitor and adjust its flight path to keep it from tumbling out of control. What fighter pilot wouldn't want to fly such a machine into a war zone?

The F-117 Stealth Nighthawk was a truly groundbreaking aircraft when introduced in the early 1980s. This highly classified program wasn't acknowledged publicly by the U.S. Air Force until 1988. The Nighthawk was retired in 2008 after twenty-five years of service, including bombing missions over Panama, Iraq during both Gulf Wars, and Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war.

Brad O'Connor flew the Nighthawk during the NATO bombing campaign over Kosovo in 1999. His first- person experience puts the reader in the cockpit of this revolutionary combat aircraft. From his F-117 assignment through training, deployment, mission planning, and combat flights, O'Connor relates the day-to-day life of a pilot in the world's first stealth fighter.

Chapter excerpt by Gizmodo

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