In the 80s the F-117 Stealth Fighter changed the way people thought of fighter aircraft forever. Looking like either a flying hat box or a flying Hershey Kiss it didn't really look like it could do much flying at all. It was the end product of a process that began with the 1964 publication of a paper by Soviet mathemetician Pyotr Ufimtsev in which he proved that the strength of a radar return was directly related to the edge configuration of the object and not its mass. At the time no country possessed the technological know-how to build on Ufimtsev's idea but in time that would change.

The F-117 was designated a fighter aircraft (hence the "F") but it was not capable of engaging other airplanes or dogfighting. Its job was to sneak in through a country's radar and drop bombs or launch missles at targets on the ground. The F-117 made its first flight in the Nevada desert on June 18, 1981. The following year the first planes were delivered and the plane was declared operational in October 1983. It was still a "black program" however and the air force vehemently denied its very existence for a further 5 years, until November of 1988.

In all 49 F-117s were built and saw service in Panama in 1989, the first Gulf War in 1991 (where it flew with impunity over an otherwise heavily defended Baghdad), Serbia in 1999 (where the first and only of its kind was shot down with the wreckage sold to the Chinese), the Afghan war and the Iraq war.

In 2005 the decision was made to incrementally retire the F-117 in favor of the new, sleeker F-22 and on April 22, 2008 the last of the Stealth Fighters was decomissioned. But though its gone now it will not soon to be forgotten for something about the war plane captured the public imagination and, for better or worse, became part of the new, hi-tech image the country was formulating for itself in the 80s.

The F-117 Stealth Fighter on the ground and in the air. Who knew Hershey's Kisses could fly?