Sometimes, it's really worth the time to travel country roads instead of the freeway. You just never know what gems you may stumble upon while driving the scenic byways and highways of Texas. You may find a really great BBQ joint or a kitschy country store selling irresistible knickknacks -- or maybe a state-of-the-art stealth fighter parked on the side of the road.
Yep. That's what we said when we saw the photos Craig Levisay sent to our 5 and 6 p.m. anchor Mike Snyder this morning. Levisay found what appears to be a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft, broken down along state Highway 1187 near Drury Lane in Rendon.
The $50 million F-35, which has stealth capability and the ability to take off and land vertically, was shrink-wrapped in blue and perched on the back of a flat-bed truck that was partially hidden behind a pile of asphalt.
But the clever cover didn't keep Levisay, or any other number of passerbys, from snapping some photos of the military's next generation aircraft, or even shielding themselves from the hot summer sun underneath one of the aircraft's foldable wings.
We sent a note to Lockheed Martin asking why the plane was parked in Rendon this morning, but so far they have not replied.
At this point we can only surmise that the transport truck had a malfunction and that calling AAA wasn't an option. We hope to hear back from Lockheed and to have an update to this story in the future.
Update: Over the weekend, Lockheed said the truck, which only drives very slow, was not broken down but only runs at night as to minimize it's impact on traffic. The plane was a F-35C variant which had recently done a drop test at Vought Aircraft Industries in Grand Prairie and was on it's way back to Lockheed in Fort Worth to undergo more testing. Additionally, Lockheed said the plane on the truck is a large-scale model that will never fly.
NBC DFW's Mike Snyder contributed to this report.