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The Jack Weeks A-12 Accident

By. BG Dennis Sullivan - Dutch 23

 Jack returning from an A-12 flight
This is the only photo we have of Jack Weeks in his flight suit.
If you have a photo of Jack in his flight suit please send us a copy.

rightIn Okinawa we had 3 A-12’s conducting Operation BLACK SHIELD, the OXCART program’s operational phase. The Original plan was to change out planes periodically, but with the SR-71 coming, it was never done. The SR was delayed two or three times, which added to the time the 3 A-12’s stayed in place.

It is my opinion that the A-12 support deteriorated near the end. Jack Weeks had performance problems trying to fly over North Korea. My last local flight was a routine test hop for engine work. On takeoff, all was normal until about 200 knots when I noticed the left engine temp rising out of limits. I down trimmed the fuel control to no affect. I throttled back, watching the temperature stay high all the way to the idle stop and then shut the engine down. I took off single engine, which had never been done before, and eventually landed OK.

The downside of all of this was that Jack Weeks flew the same airplane and engine a week or so later on a test flight and had the same problem as I did just as he hit Mach 3. When the engine overtemped (first four birdwatcher chirps were engine overtemp), he did not know that all he could do was to shut it down, which I don’t believe had ever been done above Mach 3. Shortly thereafter, the airplane broke up and he was lost.

That left two airplanes to ferry home. Ken Collins and Frank Murray took a week and I took four and one half hours to the West coast. Only one of the three planes made it home OK. A sad finish that should not have happened to a great program.



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