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On June 18th, 1981, Lockheed test pilot Hal C. Farley lifted the nose of FSD-1 off of the runway at Groom Dry Lake and made the first flight of the F-117A. FSD-2 made it's first flight unpainted on September 24, 1981. FSD-3 was initially painted gray and made it's first flight on December 18, 1981. FSD-4 was delivered in early 1982, but remained grounded for RCS configuration until 7 JUL 82. FSD-5 made it's first flight on April 10, 1982 and was used for navigation/autopilot and avionics development.
On September 25, 1985 the left tail fin "fluttered off" of FSD-2 (#79-781) while doing a pull-up maneuver during a daylight weapons test at Groom Lake. As the black tail with its large white 781 fell to earth, the pilot, Maj. John Beesley, was unaware anything had happened (because of the computer compensation) until the chase plane told him. He brought the aircraft in for a safe landing, and was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Restrictions were placed on certain regimes of flight (high speed) and the all-moving metal fins were replaced by thermoplastic graphite fins. (This incident is on file because the whole test was being filmed, but the footage is still classified.) On July, 18, 1990 FSD-5 (#784) flew with the new rudders. (Possibly lifting the speed restriction) The last graphite rudder was fitted in 1992.