Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Lockheed Dedicates New Skunk Works Site : Aerospace: The facility will become Antelope Valley’s first full-service aircraft company.


The relocation of Lockheed Advanced Development Co. from Burbank to Palmdale is nearly complete, with the last of the nearly 4,000 Skunk Works employees due to arrive here by mid-June.

The Skunk Works will become the first full-service aircraft company based in the Antelope Valley, an area well known for its history of aerospace achievements.

The largest and newest of the 21 buildings the highly secretive aerospace company has constructed at its 542-acre site, located adjacent to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, was dedicated Thursday.

The 225,000-square-foot office building, named the Kelly Johnson Advanced Development Center in memory of Skunk Works founder and renowned aircraft designer Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson, will house nearly 1,000 engineering and program management employees.


“We believe what we have here are the most modern and efficient buildings in the aerospace industry,” said Skunk Works President Jack Gordon.

After nearly five decades at its birthplace in Burbank, Lockheed officials decided in 1990 to relocate Skunk Works to Palmdale and make it an independent company.

“Picking up the stakes and moving out of Burbank involved some risks,” Dan Tellep, Lockheed Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, told a crowd of several hundred employees and invited guests who attended the dedication ceremony. “That’s true to the nature of Skunk Works.”

Local officials, of course, were delighted to be home to the Skunk Works. Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said, “We look forward to a long and lasting relationship.”


Skunk Works is credited with developing and producing some of the most advanced planes of the past several decades.

It started in a shop building at Lockheed’s Burbank plant in 1943 when Johnson promised the U.S. Army Air Forces that Lockheed would build a jet fighter prototype in 180 days. Just 143 days later the XP-80 was ready for flight.

Over the years, Skunk Works has continued to operate in super secrecy, designing and building such aircraft as the U-2 spy plane, SR-71 Blackbird and F-117 Stealth Fighter.

Those attending the dedication ceremony, while kept outside of the guarded buildings, were treated to flyovers by a U-2 and an F-117, one of which will also be put on display outside the Johnson building.