The complete base guide to Edwards Air Force Base - We Are The Mighty
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The complete base guide to Edwards Air Force Base

Edwards Air Force Base in California is the Air Force Materiel Command center of excellence. This is the Air Force’s center location to conduct and support research and development. Aerospace systems are also developed and tested. The installation also operates the Test Pilot School and it’s home to NASA’s Dryden Research Center. This is the second-largest base in the Air Force, so expect a robust and vibrant military community both on and off the base. Because of the wide-open spaces, Edwards is the ideal location for its mission – to test Air Force tech. 

Overview

You might know it as the place Chuck Yaeger’s flight broke the sound barrier. Here are the top 14 reasons why Chuck Yaeger might just be the greatest military pilot of all time

Breaking sound barriers aside, Edwards has had other notable moments in its past too. In fact, it was the location of the first landing of the Space Shuttle. These days, the installation hosts a community-building airshow once a year, too, featuring the Air Force’s latest and greatest.

Wondering about the weather at Edwards Air Force Base? It’s desert so it’s really hot during the day but temps can really cool off at night. However, the weather is really consistent, so you’ll get used to it pretty quickly. 

Edwards Air Force Base Location

Located in the western portion of the Mojave Desert, Edwards Air Force Base is about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The installation stretches over 300,000 acres. 

The complete base guide to Edwards Air Force Base
“Captain Marvel” cast members Samuel L. Jackson, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan and Brie Larson, along with directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, pose in front of an Air Force F-15 Eagle from the 144th Fighter Wing, Fresno Air National Guard, California, during a media event at Edwards Air Force Base, Caliifornia, Feb. 20, 2019. (DOD photo by Shannon Collins)

Directions

From Lancaster, take CA-14 N toward Mojave. Then take exit 55 toward Edwards AFB. Next, merge onto W Rosamond Blvd. Finally, continue straight to enter Edwards Air Force Base through the West Gate.

From Los Angeles, take US-101 N toward I-110 N. Be sure you keep left and follow signs for Sacramento. Then merge onto I-5 N toward Sacramento. Take exit 162 for CA-14 N toward Palmdale/Lancaster. Then, take exit 55 toward Edwards AFB and follow signs. 

Transportation

The easiest way to reach your new duty station is to fly into Los Angeles International Airport. 

If you’re planning to arrive to Edwards via Los Angeles International Airport, you can either have your sponsor pick you up at LAX or use the Antelope Express Shuttle. This shuttle will drop you off at the Comfort Inn in Lancaster. It’s a good idea to make a reservation for the shuttle prior to your arrival. The shuttle costs about $70 per person but is reimbursable so keep your receipt! 

You could also make your next PCS epic and travel to Edwards via train. Take the Amtrak to Barstow, which is just about an hour from Edwards! It’ll be an adventure you’ll never forget and it’s a wonderful way to see this beautiful country. 

Currently, the base does not offer any on-installation transportation. There’s also no provisions for buses or taxis. Desert heat is no joke so it’s a good idea to ship your car. You’ll definitely want it as you travel around base. 

Gates and Hours

There are three gates at Edwards. The West gate is considered the main gate. 

North Gate: Open 24/7

South Gate: Open 24/7

West Gate: Open 24/7

The Visitor Control Center is located in Building 1004. It’s open Monday – Friday 0700 – 1600 and closed on weekends and holidays.  

Contacts at Edwards Air Force Base

Airman & Family Readiness Center (661) 277-0723

Animal Care & Services: Adopt-A-Pet Rescue (661) 258-9525

Antelope Express Shuttle (661) 945-2529

Area Defense -Counsel Edwards (661) 277-2809

Base Operations (661) 277-2222

Civil Engineer Work-Order Desk (24 hrs.) (661) 277-3330

Civilian Personnel Office (661) 277-3840

Command Post (661) 277-3040

Communications Squadron Customer Support Center (661) 277-3444

Education Office (661) 277-2713

Employee Assistance Program (661) 277-1183

Equal Opportunity Office (661) 277-7985

Finance (661) 277-4550

Health Promotion (formerly HAWC) (661) 275-4292

High Desert Inn (661) 275-7666

Household Goods & Housing: (661) 385-6051

IDs/CAC/DEERS Office (661) 277-2276

Inspector General (661) 277-4888

Medical & Dental Care Central Appointments (661) 277-7118

Military Housing Office (661) 277-4506

NASA Switchboard (661) 276-3311

Pass & Registration (661) 277-6263

School Liaison Office (661) 277-2456

Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (661) 209-0115

Unaccompanied Housing Office (661) 277-6783

Visitor Control Center (661) 275-9771

cargo plane at Edwards Air Force Base
C-17 Globemaster III is parked while crews prepare the cargo plane for a test mission at Edwards Air Force Base, California, April 1. (Air Force photo by Chris Dyer)

Mission and Units

The mission at Edwards is threefold and includes flying operations, aircraft maintenance, and aircraft engineering.

Edward’s host wing is the 412th Test Wing. It’s responsible for planning, conducting, and analyzing all flights and ground testing of aircraft and weapons systems. The 412th also tests the software and components that go into those aircraft and weapons systems. This host wing oversees the daily operations for the nearly 10,000 military personnel, DoD contractors, and civilians who work on base. 

The Test Pilot School is where America’s next top pilots learn to conduct flight tests and generate data to successfully carry out missions. 

Edwards Air Force Base History

From the earliest days of America’s first jet aircraft to the newest F-22 Raptor, Edwards Air Force Base has played a significant role in the development of almost every aircraft since WWII. Its earliest iteration was as a bombing range in the 1930s. As America prepared to enter the war, Edwards Air Force base expanded. Since then, it has achieved significant aviation milestones, including the testing of the Joint Strike Fighter X-35A, Airborne Laser Weapons and the Predator Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Programs.

Most recently, the Air Force announced that Edwards would lead testing and evaluation of the next generation long-range strike bomber.

Edwards Air Force Base history
#OTD 18 Apr 1958 at Edwards Air Force Base – Commander George C. Watkins flew a Grumman F11F-1F Super Tiger, like the one in this photo, to an official world altitude record for Class C (turbine powered) aircraft. He zoom-climbed the Navy fighter to an altitude of 76,828 feet. (Edwards History Office file photo)

Things to Do Around Edwards Air Force Base

Both Los Angeles and San Diego are within driving distance, so you have plenty of things to do, places to eat, and ways to experience California life. Be mindful of the traffic though because it can really add some time to your travel.  

Hotels

There are so many hotels around Edwards that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one – even if you don’t make a reservation ahead of time.

Best Western Plus Desert Poppy Inn, (661) 418-0550

Comfort Inn & Suites, (661) 418-5690

Hampton Inn & Suites Lancaster, (661) 940-9194

Holiday Inn Express Lancaster, (661) 951-8848

Oxford Suites Lancaster, (661) 949-3423

Food Scene

Edwards has the advantage of being close to several major cities so foodies should be very excited to try all this region has to offer. Craft beer, cocktail and coffee scenes are huge in San Diego, and there are a ton of great restaurants in the towns around base, too. This area of California is known for its fresh fusion cuisine. Be sure to check out the great barbeque restaurants that dot the area as well as the Mexican and southwestern options, too. 

Activities

Both nearby major cities have sports teams, museums, and local attractions. Catch a Padres game in San Diego and check out LA’s vibrant music scene. If you’re up to a drive, nearby Yuma offers world-class golf and not-to-be missed birdwatching. Of course, within the Mojave Desert, you should visit the National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park, and Death Valley National Park. 

Edwards Air Force Base Housing

Edwards Airmen have the entire Antelope Valley to call home! That stretches all the way from Rosamond to California City, so there are so many options when you’re looking for your next residence. Keep in mind that the average cost of living in this area is above the national average. That means it might be more advantageous to live in privatized housing. 

The most important thing to do is call the Housing Office as soon as you receive orders. Corvias Property Management owns and manages privatized housing for the base and offers lots of neighborhood options.  

Of course Airmen E1-E4 live in the barracks. They’re not so bad though – Edwards barracks come with Higher Grounds Cafe access as a place to relax and socialize. Airmen ranked E4 with more than three years of service can live in the local community. Call the Unaccompanied Housing Office for more information. 

Edwards Air Force Base schools
Students and guests at Branch Elementary on Edwards Air Force Base, California, watch a rocket take off as part of the grand opening of the base’s new STARBASE school program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kenji Thuloweit)

Schools Near Edwards Air Force Base

Unfortunately, there are no DoDEA schools on base. Mil-kids who call Edwards home can take advantage of the local school districts. If you live on base, your elementary-aged school kids will attend Muroc Unified schools. Speak with the School Liaison Office for more information to make the best choice for your family. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What major city is Edwards Air Force Base near?

The closest city is Los Angeles. However, San Diego is also nearby. 

Is Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert?

It sure is! Edwards is in the southwest part of the Mojave Desert. 

Is Edwards Air Force Base the largest air base in the United States?

It’s the second largest base in the United States.

Where should I live when stationed at Edwards AFB?

That’s a very personal decision based on your family’s needs. Check out our housing section up top for more info.

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