When the Blackbirds were set to be retired and Gen. Welch's decision to have them scrapped was overturned, all surviving airframes were to be allocated to various museums across the country. All museums were given the chance to put together proposals on why they should receive a Blackbird.
The USAF museum with guidance from Det.6, 2762nd LS at Norton AFB, made the final selection of which museums would get specific airframes. Minnesota was allocated Article 128. At this point all airframes had been properly stored as per the instructions in the T.O.
In due time, all museums were notified that they had been chosen and were allowed to send representatives out to Site 2 at Palmdale to check the condition of their allocated airplane.
At that time the Minnesota plane stored at Site 2 was surprisingly complete. There was even film still loaded in the small aft-facing camera to record missile firings.
Arrangements now had to be made to move the A-12 out of Site 2 for recovery. Many of the other A-12's were moved to an empty area on AF Plant 42 and were disassembled and moved by WorldWide Aircraft Recovery. The Minnesota plane, Article #128 went to Lockheed's Plant 10 facility to allow the Minnesota Team to disassemble the A-12 on their property for 'security purposes'. Two C-5's were brought transport the A-12 to Minnesota once it was disassembled.
While stored at Plant 42 during the preparation of Article #128 by Minnesota National Guard representatives for movement to the Minnesota National Guard Museum, someone removed the seal wrap and vandalized this plane, the A-12 Trainer Article #124, of the components from both cockpits. The following photos show the extent of this shameful destruction of this one of a kind historical plane. The Minnesota plane sitting beside the vandalized plane, Article 128, a single cockpit plane, arrived in Minnesota with a full compliment of cockpit components??
March 2007 - Article 128 was vandalized and cockpit components stolen. See images and details posted below.
The MANGMF has involved the Minnesota congressional delegation and legislation which has introduced in both the Senate (SB-437) and House (HR-812) directing the SAF to convey ownership to the MANGMF as a private organization with continuing care and maintenance provided by the 133rd AW. This was an attempt to block the CIA from moving the plane where it belongs and would in effect deny the Roadrunners finally having a plane to identify with their legacy. Additionally, it is our position that the legislation before the House and Senate usurped the authority of the military services under 10 USC 2572 to manage cultural, historic and educational resources on behalf of all US citizens.
As of 13 March 2007 the A-12 had been removed, in total, from MSP and was now in secure storage with Worldwide Aircraft Recovery in Bellevue, NB where it was prepped for exhibit and then moved to Langley.
Unfortunately, when it became final that the plane was going to CIA Headquarters, this beautiful and well-kept plane was savagely vandalized with virtually all instrumentation ripped out of the cockpit. In an Wall Street article the alleged thief admitted in an interview that he had removed the cockpit instruments to keep the CIA from getting them with "his" plane.
It required a guard to remain with the plane and certainly justified the moving of the plane to a more secure venue.
Members of Roadrunners Internationale supported the mission of our association by also supporting the CIA in acquiring Article #128. Many did this by contacting the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Air Force, and the members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Many also confronted with the truth any media supporting what had previously been falsely represented.
|Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
|Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670
|United States Senate Addresses||United States House of Representatives Addresses|
CIA Article #128 (Serial #60-06931) never achieved the operational experiences of the rest of the A-12 Articles. It was the first operationally outfitted A-12 (as opposed to one of the test aircraft) to reach Mach 3, but it did not participate in BLACK SHIELD. It apparently was deployed as a back-up for the NICE GIRL flyoff against the SR-71 in October-November 1968 but was not used in the competition. Yet it probably enjoyed retirement as much as any of the planes thanks to the Minnesota National Guard, the Minnesota Air National Guard Historical Foundation, Inc. and the citizen volunteers of Minnesota. Some said its pristine condition was the reason for the CIA picking it to be moved to CIA Headquarters at Langley during the CIA's 60th anniversary celebrated in September 2007 to honor the men and women participating in Project Oxcart at Area 51 and Operation Blackshield at Kadena, Okinawa.
Sadly, the moving of the plane from Minnesota caused a lot of disappointment to those losing it to the CIA as well as those standing to gain by its relocation. A former Minnesota National Guardsman took it upon himself to save the plane by going to the media, friends, U.S. Senators, and U.S. Congressmen with false representations about the role the state of Minnesota played in the operational history of the A-12 planes. When he saw that the decision to move the plane was final, he defiantly admitted to the media that he had vandalized the plane by stripping out the cockpit instruments to spite the CIA. This created a indefensible PR nightmare for those trying to retain the plane and raised the fury of the CIA, Air Force, and the Roadrunners who flew it while operational. The matter quickly became a rescue operation.
The CIA had no choice in the plane to be mounted at Langley. The NMUSAF closely reviewed each of the nine A-12s in the national historical collection to include operational histories as well as the rationale for individual aircraft placement locations. When all factors were considered, it was determined that the aircraft on loan to the 133rd AW would be best suited to fulfill the request by the CIA. It was the only A-12 not on loan to an accredited museum activity. Secondly, the aircraft is outside of the scope of collections for the history and heritage of the 133rd AW. (It is also outside of the mission statement of the Minnesota Air Guard Museum Foundation as reported on their most recent IRS 990 filing.) The Minnesota aircraft had the lowest visibility of all A-12?s. Although the aircraft was on loan to the 133rd , the Minnesota Air Guard Museum Foundation reported to the to the American Association of Museums, as published in the Official Museum Guide - 2006, only 1,000 visitors annually.
Being a private organization, the Minnesota Air Guard Museum did not meet the qualifications for the loan of Air Force historical property. The museum failed to meet the legal administrative requirements outlined in 10 U.S.C. 2572. Additionally, it was required to meet the basic professional standards established by the American Association of Museums (AAM) as verified by a site visit. The loan agreement between the NMUSAF and the 133rd AW is an annually renewable document and clearly contains the rights of recall. The 133 AW/CC was not resistive to the recall proposal and he acknowledged that the A-12 was, unlike all other aircraft in the airpark collection.
On 9 March 2007 the disassembly of the A-12 was complete and the nacelles, the forward and aft fuselage were ready to depart Minnesota for Nebraska for preparation for its final move to Langley, Virginia as a memorial to all airmen and CIA personnel involved with the OXCART Program, including their operational losses. While the A-12 will not be on ?public? display, per se, it will be visible annually to a deserving audience of tens of thousands of government employees and official visitors to the CIA Headquarters facility.
The images below show the vandalism and resultant rescue fuselage separation at the 715 station fuselage in preparation for moving.
Contrary to statements made by both the Congressional Delegation and the Minnesota Air Guard Museum Foundation, the A-12 was not "rescued from a California scrap heap". All 9 of the aircraft were in secure storage at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.
The photos below were taken as Article 128 was being removed from storage and moved to Minnesota for display on loan to the Minnesota National Guard
Follow the progress as the vandalism to Article 128 is repaired and the plane moved to CIA Headquarters. Photos will be added as received.