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2002 Blackbird Laurels

Bill Fox holding his Distinguished Alumni Award

2002 Blackbird Laurels

CIA 60TH ANNIVERSARY - 19 September 2007

Roadrunner Bill Fox honoree at A-12 Article 128 Dedication at CIA Headquarters

CIA Director Hayden

A-12 Dedication Invitation


CIA Museum Director Toni Hiley

Bill visiting with Rich Graham

Bill and Jack Layton

Bill with TD Barnes and Director Hayden

Bill with TD Barnes and Director Hayden

Bill was born on August 28, 1933, in Osage, Iowa. He grew up on a farm near Orchard and was the fifth of seven siblings. He attended Orchard Consolidated Schools for 12 years graduating from high school in 1951. After graduation he immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was placed in the Naval Aviation Branch. After a year of special training he was assigned toxx a squadron which was on orders to Korea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany. After one year he returned to the States and was assigned to a service squadron until his honorable discharge in June of 1954.

He started school that Fall at Iowa State College of Engineering and later attended the University of Minnesota. He then went to work for Honeywell in the Engineering Flight Test Division developing requirements and testing programs for auto pilots and control systems for the most advanced military aircraft. This work soon took him to St. Louis, White Sands, and California for various ongoing aircraft test programs. While in California he was assigned to the highly classified Blackbird program which was still in the concept phase. Bill was responsible for developing the Flight Control Simulator. He was then assigned to Area 51 to take part in the development flight test program. His primary responsibility was the Autopilot and Stability Augmentation System but he soon became involved with nearly every system on the aircraft, including the Inlet Control System, Instrumentation, Fuel Quantity and CG System, and pilot survival equipment.

This aircraft was designed as a spy plane that could fly safely over Russia by flying extremely fast and very high. Though it is now out of service it is still the fastest aircraft ever built and considered the greatest Aviation Achievement of the Twentieth Century.

Following that program he became Engineering and Program Manager for the Lockheed/NASA/Airforce YF-12 Blackbird Research Program. Then as stealth programs began in the late 1970's it was back to Area 51 as Lockheed's Site Manager and Engineering Flight Test Manager for various stealth programs, some just now being released to the public. Following these programs Bill was assigned as Test Manager for the Blackbird and U2 aircraft follow on development programs in Palmdale, CA.

When Lockheed started a division in Texas, Bill transferred to that division as Engineering Flight Test Manager for the Aquila, an unmanned aircraft used as a battlefield overhead target designator for the U. S. Army.

Bill retired in December 1988 and moved back to Osage. He moved to Charles City in 1999. He spends much of his time giving presentations about the Blackbird to various school and youth groups , Rotary, Lions, and Kiwanis Clubs through out Iowa, ROTCs, Experimental Aircraft organizations, speaking to well over 10,000 people in all.

Bill was selected in 2002 as one of 20 charter members of the Blackbird Laurels Society which was organized to honor those deemed most responsible for the success of the Blackbird. In April of 2005 Bill received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Osage Educational Foundation for outstanding achievements and contributions to society following graduation.

Bill is a member of the VFW, American Legion, Amvets, Moose, Elks, Knights of Columbus, Experimental Aircraft Association, Roadrunners Internationale (Past President), and the Blackbird Association.


This is where we moved to when I was 3 years old (1936). We sold it in 1991. We had a trout stream on the south edge of it and a large river (Big Cedar) on the west edge. When I was too small to help in the farm operations I usually went fishing every day. It was a wonderful place to grow up and the memories from there are endless.

Click on images to enlarge

Me in the 8th grade

I played Varsity Basketball 4 years and Varsity Baseball 4 years but the most fun was traveling with the Band. I was lucky enough to be the lead trumpet 4 years. Did not read music well but once I heard it I could play it. This photo was taken in 1950 at the new Court House in Charles City, Iowa with my lifetime friend Jerry Simpson.

Me and Karen: Karen died in 1998 after a 3 year battle with cancer. We were married in 1955

My siblings. Front- Ann Fox Stanek, Dolores Fox Faley, Judith Fox Leonard Back- Lawrence J. Fox, Ralph J. Fox, JR (1926-2004), Sister Pauline Fox, and me

My Children: L to R- Dorian, Rick, Lisa, Doug, (all in Antelope Valley California) and Mary of Austin, TX

Tis sort of gathering took place every time we would go back to Iowa on vacation

Karen, my Mom and Dad and the 5 children

Sister Pauline. Sister Pauline was a Sister of Mercy and was an English Professor and head of the English Dept at Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, IA. She is now retired and is a volunteer at a Hospital in Cedar Rapids. She had her hands full trying to keep the rest of us in line!!!

Me as a junior in high school


Blackbird Laurels Presentation - Top Left- The late California Congressman and former Rocket Aircraft Pilot Pete Knight telling me the ribbons a snug fitting. Bottom Left- The attempt to get it on starts . Top Right- Did not work well and backed off for a second try. Bottom Right- A few words about the experience. A great Test Pilot giving me a great award. A thrill of a lifetime!!!

Parents and siblings(circa 1970)

My parents. Ralph J. Fox (1901-1980) and Catherine M. (Egan) Fox (1905-1988)

Not a good quality photo but does show the Col giving Hubert Humphrey a tour.

Jon Sharp. Jon works in the composites lab at the Skunkworks but worked for me on the Aquila Unmanned Recon drone in Texas. Great with composites, makes his own props and is an excellent designer as well as builder. He has been at the top of Formula 1 racing for many years. Life is easy when you have good people working for you.

Me and the Blackbird

First Flight F-117. Lockheed Test Pilot Hal Farley gets his dousing after the first F117 flight. It was a tough job but someone had to do it !!!!

This was the group of Flight Testers from MAC, Hughes, and Honeywell doing the MB1 Genie Missile firing from the F101B Test Aircraft, primarilly at manned targets (F100s). This program, at Hollaman AFB, is where I first met Jim Eastham, Gen Doug Nelson, Col

Test team including Acft Ground Crew and Honeywell Engineering team and Honeywell Test Pilot Jim O

Honeywell F104G Flight Test Team 1960

F-117 First Flight Party. Everyone had the chance to get wet at this party!!!

My father, Ralph J. Fox, having an incredible visit to the NASA Flight Research Center. He said it was the greatest day of his life seeing all this stuff and shaking hands with some guys that walked on the moon.

Gen. Bill Campbell. A great pilot and a great friend.


Col. Jack Layton. A great pilot and true friend.

NASA Flight Crews. Some of the best friends I have ever had, the NASA Flight Crews. L to R. Ray Young, Fitz Fulton, Don Mallick, and Vic Horton.

Joint NASA/USAF Flight Crews. L to R: Gary Heidlebaugh, Vic Horton, Fitz Fulton, Sam Ursini, Slip Slater, and Ray Young

Larry was a Flight Test Engineer for many years on the SR71 and YF12 Programs.

Col. Joe Rogers - This pilot did a lot for the Blackbird Programs and is a Blackbird Laurels recipient.

Col. Slip Slater. There are no words that can say what this man has meant to the Blackbird Program. To me, he was the

This is one

Aquila at Fort Huachuca, AZ

Aquila Launch at Fort Huachuca, AZ

CL-1200 Lancer

Pilot Merv Evenson and Backseater Red McNair. Palmdale AF Flight Test Crew

AF Pilot Dick Gerard and Backseater Ron Selberg. Palmdale AF Flight Test Crew

Darryl Greenamyer setting the World Speed Record for a jet powered aircraft at sea level well over a 1000 MPH.

Darryl Greenamyer's Bearcat. This machine dominated the Reno Air Races for a few years.

Darryl Greenamyer's F104

CL-1200 Lancer. This was Kelly Johnson's lightweight fighter which was on target weight price and capability but lost out to the F16 and F17, which neither met the specs which were later changed.

When you think about this it is mind boggling !!!

Winter in Palmdale

Winter in Palmdale




Driver's License signed by CIA

Area 51 ID Badge

Area51 Rad Handbook


27 September 2008

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