1968 Passport Photo

2013 Ed Power





I did not work in the Aerospace Industry at the time, however unplanned events enabled me to witness the development of one of the world's most advanced and exciting aircraft.

In the summer of 1963, when my section at Sylvania Electronic Defense Laboratory in Mountain View, California ran out of work, the company loaned me to another department developing a very compact receiver. That effort was for yet another group in "systems" so most of the workers did not know the purpose. I helped with the severe environmental testing to develop a system capable of working under high G vibrations and extra high temperatures. When the company lost a technician, they asked me to transfer, which entailed my filling out the required Extensive Background Investigation (EBI) questionnaire that sought my personal history back to 1936!

In November 1963, we were busy working and there had been some "horsing around" among the team, like pouring left-over potting compound into someone's tool box. Consequently, when George Lane came in and said "President Kennedy has been shot in Dallas," we thought that he was just kidding around again and did not believe him. But, he insisted that we were the only ones still working and not listening to radio broadcasts.

After about three months, my new security access came in, so Haig Shalvargian briefed me on the A-12 program, code named, OXCART. Someone had a real sense of humor; they called the fastest, highest-flying airplane in the world an Oxcart! We learned that our system's purpose was to protect the new "super secret" A-12 aircraft by recognizing and jamming the unique guidance signal for the Russian SA-2 Surface-to-Air guided missile.

This would be my first of many jobs in the "Black World" of Compartmentalized Special Access projects, even though I had held an active DOD Top Secret clearance for many years.

A few weeks later, all "cleared" people attended an urgent meeting in Haig's office. Haig was not there at the time. The names that I now remember attending were Dr. Joe Armstrong, Anne Hunt, Ralph Leurgans, Lynn Murrell, Kieth Root, Bob Stubbie, & Gary Worth. He finally arrived, shut, and bolted the door. He apologized for being late and said that he had been waiting for the teletype type message that he took out of his brief case. He handed out secrecy agreements that stated that we would not disclose the contents of the message we were about to hear. He had us sign them before he read the message to us. It was from the "Program Office" in Washington DC. It said that President Johnson would make a TV and radio announcement on Saturday evening about a new aircraft called the YF-12. The complete text of Johnson's speech was included. All persons cleared on our program were required neither to comment on the announcement nor to give any credit to any speculation of a tie-in between our project and the YF-12. Had it not been for those secrecy agreements, any one of us could have been able to make front-page news by disclosing what the president was about to say!

President Johnson made the announcement on Saturday, 29 Feb. 1964 as expected, however, I noted a few changes in wording, (or reading errors, as he often made). The YF- designation meant prototype fighter. He did not reveal that there was a reconnaissance version of the aircraft. The announcement made front-page news and several articles and pictures followed. It was hard to act ignorant on the subject, since it became a main topic of conversation around work for several days. When the cleared were alone together, we wondered WHY Johnson had revealed its existence. The only cause that we could agree on was because of a possible security leak. [Later, we wondered if it related to the A-12 flown by Ken Collins that crashed on 24 May 1963 near Wendover, UT.]

I worked with engineers, Keith Root and Ed Louie doing the environmental testing of the units and then the complete Red Dog System crammed into a very tightly packed titanium case. Two of our trusted sheet metal men with only secret clearances signed secrecy agreements that enabled them to work on putting holes in the titanium cases for cable connectors. The metal was so hard that it took a big supply of drill bits and "Greenlee Punches."

The system required proper operation with high shock, vibration, temperature, and altitude. The extreme altitude was above 80,000 ft. and temperature up to 650 degrees Fahrenheit. (A kitchen oven does not get that hot!) After we finally had it through those tests, we were about ready to send the first system to the field for flight-testing. The location of the field site was a carefully guarded secret and none of us had yet been there. The flight tests would take a careful planning so that our test van's antennas would have clear line-of-sight to the aircraft for several minutes. The "Customer" provided us with a topographical map of the area around the test van's location, with no names, but mountain peak elevations and positions. That was so that Ralph Leurgans could plan the best flight path over the gaps between peaks. A flight path, near north to south was the only one not blocked by a mountain peak as the aircraft flew over the site.

Lynn Murell and Gary Worth went to the site to setup the van for the series of flight tests. The program office approved each new person visiting the site along with someone who had previously been there to escort them. They spoke of flying out of Burbank in a Lockheed "Constellation" for a little over an hour. I overheard enough that it seemed like I could find that site on a map. The mountain peaks (shown on that unmarked topographical map) formed a unique pattern and several of them were near ten thousand feet high. The cruise speed of the Constellation aircraft was easy to find, so I just drew a 325-mile ring, centered at Burbank on a road map, and found that pattern of mountains north of Las Vegas, Nevada in the Atomic Test Range. It looked to me like it must be around Groom Dry Lake, Nevada. The mountains were Bald Mountain at 9,248 ft., Mt Irish at 8,741 ft., Hayford Peak at 9,912 ft., and Quartz Peak at 6,370 ft.

Arriving at the site in May 1964, there was no surprise to me. It was located where I expected it at the south west corner of Groom Dry Lake, Nevada [N37 15' - W115 49']

The site's security people met all newcomers at the airplanes and took us to a security briefing. Part of their briefing was for everyone to sign an agreement never to reveal the location of this site to anyone having never been there. Then they played a little game of asking the newcomers to guess where we were. Many of the new guys that day were from the East Coast and they had some pretty wild guesses. The security guys were having too much fun with them, so I said that Las Vegas was maybe one hundred miles in that direction (S/E) and that the Yucca Flats of the Atomic Test Range was just to the south west. It got very quiet for a while, and then one of them asked where I got that information. I said that no one had told me, that it did not take too many brains to figure it out, using the plane's time of flight and having some knowledge of Western geography. I said that the "Connies" fly at about 300 mph, so I combined that with the plane's heading shown on a bulkhead and our seeing the craters of the Test Range. That was true, for I DID do that to confirm my earlier guess. They accepted that explanation and went on with the briefings. They told us that to know the location of the site was a "Level-2" access. (Later I learned that to know who the "Customer" was required a "Level-3" access.)

The required "cover story" that we used at our Plant was, "We are field testing our system at Holloman AFB." We used that location on all of our Trip/Expense Reports. (No one at our Company ever asked us why we flew to Los Angeles and NOT to El Paso, which is closer to Holloman.)

That need to falsify either our travel documents or face a possible 10 years in prison, or $10,000 fine, or both, for exposing 'classified' information was the one big negative aspect to an otherwise very satisfying project that we could always be proud of. I sometimes had a nightmare of a gleeful auditor jumping up, as I was about to be introduced in front of a large crowd and loudly accusing me of being a liar and guilty of perjury.

In the intervening years, numerous books and articles in the papers, especially Aviation Week and San Jose Mercury News have revealed the existence and location of Area-51. The UFO weirdos have also picked Area-51 as a favorite place to fantasize about the U.S. hiding UFOs and alien beings. I have seen at least four television exposures on it. There may have been some unusual people at Area-51, but none of them was space aliens, nor did they ride in on UFOs! The Site was NOT on any maps and the Government would not acknowledge that it even existed, until President Bill Clinton released a "Presidential Determination" that admitted to: "Gthe Air Force's Operating Location near Groom Lake, Nevada."

One of the other security requirements was that we were not supposed to know whom the other specialists worked for. Each company operated under a "Cover Name." Ours was Evans Packing Co. Security guys quizzed each of us new guys and asked if we knew who anyone else worked for. I told them that I recognized two guys when we got off the plane and that they knew whom I worked for and visa versa. There was another silence. They then told me not to reveal it to anyone else.

The site was called "Area-51" or earlier "The Ranch," "Watertown," or "Dreamland." It is inside the Restricted Atomic Test Range and part of a Wildlife Refuge. Nellis Gunnery Range's northern border was next to the south side of Area-51. There were at that time, only three big hangers with the about four-story control tower at the N/E corner of one of the hangers. The single story operations building was next to the southern hanger. North of the hangers and near the dry lake was the light blue EG&G Building [Edgerton-

Germeshausen-& Grier] and their huge tracking radar dish. The living quarters were about 110, single story, wood frame, duplexes with asbestos shingles on their exterior walls, and dividing walls removed from many of the units to produce 4-6 bedrooms. The buildings moved in from some other location formed in a little town appearance. They named the streets in one direction for the states of the USA and numbered those in the other direction. The living quarters were located near a high rocky hill that shielded them from radio/TV signals from Las Vegas. Later on, a television repeater on that hill near the Petroleum Oil Lubricants (POL) tank farm provided reception from two Las Vegas TV stations.

When we first arrived at the site, a big diesel power plant just west of the hangers provided all of the electricity. After a year or so, they brought in power lines from the west, and used the diesel plant only as a back-up source.

Most of those working at Area-51, flew in from Burbank every Monday morning in three Lockheed L-1049-G/H Constellation airplanes and returned on Friday evenings. The planes left Burbank at 6 & 9 A.M., with return trips at 7:30 & 10:30 during the day. On Friday, they flew a mid-day round trip and two evening trips. We exchanged an envelope containing ALL of our IDs for a colored, numbered tag for plane and seat assignment, so it would have been difficult to identify the victims in the event one of the Connies crashed.

The Connies usual flight path flew northeast from Burbank to Mojave, where it turned easterly to fly over the desert towns of Radsburg, Red Mountain, and Johannesburg. The flight path went between the two Restricted Zones of China Lake Weapons Center and the Argus Test Range. When clear of the Restricted Zones, it turned a little more to the east to head across Death Valley National Monument and across the south end of the Panamint Range. They may have used "Palmdale" and "Beatty" VORs.

At that point, we were over Nevada, crossed Highway 94 near Beatty, and went over Yucca Flats, Nuclear Test Site. We could look down on the giant, circular depressions that were a result of the underground Atomic testing. The flight usually went north of Papoose Dry Lake and let down as it flew to the north end of Groom Dry Lake, then turned right for a landing to the south. I have often wondered what kind of flight plan the pilots filed with the FAA.

A single, paved runway, 8,500 ft. long ran north/south across the western third of the dry lake and extended into the sagebrush south of the lake. There were a couple of other runways marked out on the surface of the dry lakebed. Only once did I see one of those used. The winds shifted direction and became strong while an airplane was up, so it had to land on one of the natural runways so he could land into the wind. When he touched down, there was a big burst of dust, and we did not know if he had crashed for a couple of seconds, until he rolled out in front of the growing cloud of dust and his drogue chute blossomed. The pilot's comment, later was, "HEW-EE, that's fun but you can't see anything for a few seconds!"

Reynolds Electrical Engineering Co. (REECO) employed the male, housekeeping crews and they rode the long bus ride in and out from Las Vegas. [According to rumors, only one-woman auditor came out ONCE a year on Kelly Johnson's Jet Star but NEVER spent the night!] The employees of Edgerton-Germeshausen & Greer (EG&G) who operated the tracking radars also lived in Las Vegas. No one else (except "customer" people) could come in via the long highway. The supplies not coming in on the "Connie" airplanes were hauled in by white, semi-truck tractor trailers with hand lettered on the doors in red, "NO-SO CAL TRUCKING".

We spotted our test van on a dirt road at the south end of the lakebed just past the EG&G building and near their big tracking radar tower. That allowed us to slave our antenna trailer to their radar. We put up a hand made sign on the dirt road that read, "Lakeside Drive."

After a few days, we saw the A-12 in flight, for the first time. It was a most beautiful sight, that black, dart shape in the deep blue sky. That flight came in slowly, over the buildings and made a few gentle turns before going out and landing. A test pilot (possibly Bob Gilliland) leaving the program received special permission to fly that last flyover.

A-12s at Groom Lake
Figure 1 - A-12s at Area 51. Photo from TD Barnes Area 51 Special Projects Collection

As previously mentioned, they used fictitious companies in order to try to hide the identities of the specialties and the companies represented. They used names like "Brand-X," "The Can Company," "Acme Company," and "Evans Packing Co.," etc. It was impossible to 'cover' Lockheed, REECO, and EG&G. It was rather easy to pick out the East Coast guys, in the winter, for many of them wore felt hats and wool overcoats, so chances were that they were with Westinghouse at Baltimore. They were testing a synthetic aperture radar with a long, slotted array, X-Band waveguide antenna mounted in one airplane in the opposite chine from our system.

A funny thing happened to our cover company. One weekend, the L.A. and San Francisco papers had a front-page article about the real Evans Packing Co., burning to the ground. The owner said that he would not rebuild and would lay off all of the employees. We took a lot of kidding about being unemployed.

When we worked at the site, we traveled what may have been the world's most ridiculous, indirect commute! We would leave home on a Sunday evening and fly from San Jose to LAX on a Pacific Airlines Fairchild F-27A, or a PSA Lockheed Electra. There we would rent a car, and drive back to a motel in the San Fernando Valley. Security prohibited us flying commercial flights into or out of Burbank, or using the same motel again for two months. We had to check in at the Burbank Airport before 6:00 A.M. for the flight to the Site, so we had to get up rather early.

It was frustrating to realize that after traveling about 570 air miles, we were just a little south of being 328 miles directly east of San Jose, but only our system could fly directly from Moffett Field to the site! It once surprised the Sylvania Maintenance men to load a system on a C-47 airplane at Moffett with the Atomic Energy Commission name on it. [We thought that it was a glaring security violation for them to use it for that purpose!] I made 11 round trips to Area-51 during 1964 and spent 45 days there. In 1965, I had only three trips, with 9 days there. In 1966, 3 trips and 12 days, but did not go out at all in 1967. In 1968, there were four trips with 15 days there. That made a total of 21 trips and 81 days on site.

The normal practice was for us to stay at the site for the week and to return home on Friday evening, but sometimes it was necessary to remain there over the weekend. Those who were there on Sunday afternoons could check out a four-wheel drive pickup truck to go "boon docking." We were required to stay within the boundaries of Area-51 and to be back by sunset. We carried a big, metal water can, a snakebite kit and wore high top shoes or boots. Our first boon docking was to the south where we found and explored around Kelly Mine. There was a huge stack of rusted cans and some other junk scattered around. One of the other guys searched for collectable old bottles. I went up on the opposite slope and found a big, flat rock where you could see up and down the desert valley. I found a weathered, burl pipe and took it back to the house. After we returned, we found that Kelly Mine is outside of our boundary and well within the Nellis Gunnery Range. I was glad that they were NOT flying that Sunday! The sign that was supposed to mark the boundary was missing!

On another Sunday, we went north and a short way past the end of the runway, we found an airplane crash site. Even with most of the wreckage removed, we still found a piece of aluminum with a Data Plate on it. It had been an F-101. With the pieces of the airplane was part of a refueling tube. We speculated that the fighter had broken it off the tanker while trying to refuel in air, so he ran out of gas before getting back to Area-51. (There was no sign of fire at the crash site.)

From there we tried driving up the rough, rocky road on 9,248 ft. high Bald Mountain. After slowly grinding away for over an hour, we did not see enough attractions to continue, so we turned around and went back down. We drove up a wash and almost became stuck in loose sand until noticing one of us having accidentally kicked it out of four-wheel drive. We went on to an old cattle corral where there was an intact windmill and most of the parts of a Model-T truck. We though of loading up the parts and making it a hobby shop project at the site, then wondered if we were again beyond the boon-docking limits. So, we forgot the idea.

Gary Worth was a young technician who worked with us during the early part of the program. He was overly concerned about the secrecy and security of the job. He was concerned that a spy would contact him and try to get classified information from him. One morning he had to go to the site alone, when an amusing coincidence scared him-big time!

Since we always had to stay at a different motel each week, he was not familiar with the area where he stayed, so he was a little more apprehensive about being alone. He got up before daylight and started on his way to the airport. He drove up the freeway toward the airport. There was almost no other traffic, but Gary noticed a car that stayed back behind him. He turned off the freeway for the all night restaurant in the area and the car followed him. When he turned in the parking lot, the car also turned in.

Gary went in and ordered his breakfast. The other driver came in, sat at the counter, and had coffee and a doughnut. Gary thought he had a "tail," so he wolfed down his breakfast before the other guy could finish his doughnut and coffee. As Gary paid his bill, the guy looked at his watch, took a sip of coffee, laid his money on the counter and also left. That convinced Gary that the guy was tailing him!

Gary started in the direction of the Burbank Airport and the other car followed. Gary took the very next off ramp and frantically drove around on side streets until he convinced himself that he had ditched the tail. He drove on to the rental car turn-in near the airport. When he walked into our "terminal building" on the airport, there sitting in the pilot's lounge, making out his flight plan was the guy who Gary thought was tailing him! He was the pilot who would fly them to the Site!

A short time after that, a young, single engineer named Ted Algren went out to Area-51 for several tests. His roommate decided to be smart and sent him a letter addressed to: "Ted Algren, with the CIA" that caused a big, security flap! The wise guy was required to sign a secrecy agreement and they had to change the post office that our mail went through. I think that Ted may have lost his access, since he left the project the week he went back to the Company. Mail to the site went to P.O. Box 4306 Valley Village Station, North Hollywood, California and flown to Area-51 on the Connies.

At the Site, I developed a friendship with Ray Torrick. He was a Lockheed Flight Test Engineer who scheduled all of the flight tests of the A-12. He had been a helicopter pilot in the Navy. One of the other guys told him that I was working on getting my helicopter pilot's license. He was a devout Christian who attended a Presbyterian Church in Camarillo. He had two little daughters. We seemed to have a lot in common, frequently ate lunch at the same table in the mess hall, and sometimes played Ping-Pong in the Recreation Room. We called the Rec. Room "Miss Kitty's."

Ray lost his life in July 1966 in an accident over the Pacific Missile Range. The article in the San Jose News implied that the accident possibly related to the Lockheed Rigid Rotor Helicopter project. That was not true! What happened was that he was flying in a modified A-12 as a Missile Launch Control Officer/Flight Test Engineer.

A partition in one of the hangers controlled access to the modified aircraft. The modifications included changing the Equipment Bay into a cabin for the Missile Launch Officer. They mounted a high speed, cruise reconnaissance missile (called the D-21) on the back of the airplane to lift it to high altitude and launch it at high speed. Something went wrong in the launch over the Pacific Missile Range. The mother ship was knocked out of control, so the Pilot and launch officer (Ray) had to bail out. Both ejected OK, but Ray drowns after hitting the water and becoming tangled in his parachute. The book: "Deep Black" mentions the incident, but it has some errors. I felt a deep loss in Ray's death, but could not even admit to knowing him, because of the security requirements. He was the third man that I have known who died in a plane crash.

In May 2004, the Internet provided the following details:

"On 30 July 1966 an A-12 60-6941, that was converted to M-21 for launching of the D-21 Reconnaissance drone, was flown by Pilot Bill Park and Launch Control Officer, (LCO) Ray Torrick. There had been three previous, successful launches from 941. In March, Park and Beswick launched 1 and in April and June, Park and Torrick launched 2 & 3 but all had been executed with the mother ship in a .9g dive which assisted in the blackbird/drone separation"

The dive was not an acceptable maneuver for operational launches, so the fourth D-21 launched in level flight.

On this flight, 4, they were able to use the other Mother bird 134 to fly chase. Art Peterson and Keith Beswick were in the chase plane and flew formation with Park and Torrick at Mach 3.3. Keith Beswick had a hand held camera and filmed the launch, collision, and breakup of 941."

For 2-3 seconds after drone launch, everything went normally.

Unfortunately, the drone was not able to penetrate the shock wave coming off the mother ship. The D-21 rolled sharply to the left and fell down on the wing of 941. Beswick got it all on film. When the drone hit the mother bird, it pitched the nose up and caused the nose to break off at the 715 splice. Torrick and Park were in that part. The launch plane went out of view in a hurry because its speed went from ultrasonic to zip in nothing flat." [The chase plane was flying at mach 3.3.]

"Park and Torrick remained in the tumbling wreckage until at a lower altitude where they ejected safely, but they landed in open ocean. Bill Park survived, but Ray Torrick drowned when his pressure suit took on water. The wreckage possibly tore it. All M/D-21 operations ended with the death of Ray Torrick.

We mounted our system in the A-12 within the left "chine" about six feet off the ground. Since it weighed about seven hundred pounds, we lifted it into position using a big fixture containing a hydraulic jack. The antenna array was in front of the box and the cooling tank for our "boiling water" cooling was to its rear. (Water boils about 72 degrees at operating altitude.) The system's case was sealed and behind a fold down door near the left wheel well door.

Early on, every one of us who worked on the system, in the airplane, at one time or the other, ran into the corner of that wheel well door. People could recognize what we did by the fresh cut or scar on our left cheeks. They finally started putting green foam rubber pads on the corners of those doors when the planes were on the ground.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 2 Blue Dog System on side with cover removed

To test our system in the airplane, while it was on the ground, we had to pump refrigerated, de-ionized water through the "Boiling Water" tank. We used a yellow, cooling cart made by a subcontractor that utilized to small a hose for the gravity flow return water, causing the tank to overflow and run water down the chine. That worried some people, so we modified the cart in the field.

When we removed the insulation from the Cart's water reservoir, it surprised us to see that it was a stainless steel, Falstaff Beer keg! Ron Cantoni took a lot of razzing when he had to carry it across the hanger to get the larger connector welded on it.

The airplanes had flush plugs over the cooling water connections. They were about the size of a half dollar. One time, when we were working on a plane in the hanger, Don Strandberg dropped one of the plugs. We heard the 'ping' when it hit the floor, but we could not find it anywhere. We went to lunch while Don went to Supply to get a replacement. When we returned, we noticed the crew chief of the Lockheed F-104 chase plane across the hanger from ours tearing his plane apart. He had found the half-dollar size plug below his plane and was trying to find where it had come from. He was SO relieved to learn that it had NOT fallen out of the F-104, that he was not upset about the extra work. He was tall and thin and wore striped, bib overalls, so his appearance suggested a Kansas farmer rather than a fighter's crew chief.

The starting of the A-12's engine was no small feat! The special thick, very low volatility fuel, (JP-7) required an exotic igniter called TEB, for Tri-Ethyl-Borane. [Sometimes called tri-ethyl-borine] It is strongly pyrophonic, spontaneously ignites when exposed to air, and burns with a light green, and a very high temperature flame. Each engine compartment had a stainless steel, pressure bottle for the stuff. Men wearing complete fire suits charged the bottles from a special cart, after clearing the area of all other people and equipment. The TEB so corrosive and toxic, the handlers vacuumed the lines and then purged them with nitrogen before disconnecting them. I heard that each bottle contained enough TEB for three starts of the engine.

The Pratt & Whitney J-58 engines did NOT have starter motors as most engines do and required turned up by a special starter cart. [Made by the 'Can Company'] It was a four wheel, rectangular cart that was only about belt buckle high and it contained two, 500 hp, Buick "Wildcat" V-8 engines, with an automatic transmission. Near the center, a telescopic, vertical drive shaft pushed up into an opening in the bottom of the engine's cowl through an opening covered by a little hatch. The Buick engines did not have mufflers, so run up to max RPMs produced a loud roar before the guys on the cart signaled the pilot to release the TEB. The roar of the jet engine would almost drown out the backfiring of the V-8s as their throttles were cut back to idle. The guys on the starter carts would then have to retract the drive, close the hatch on the big roaring jet engine, and roll the cart away, while staying away from the intake and exhaust. It was an awesome event that I enjoyed watching.

The engine inlets had conical "spikes" that were moved in, or out by hydraulics. A system monitoring the pressure sensed by the long pitot probe in the nose controlled their position. One purpose of the spike was to prevent the supersonic shock wave from blowing out the engine's fire. The back end of the Spike had a special shape that harnessed the shock wave to accelerate the air into the engine to thus gain more thrust. At altitude, most of the thrust was from compressed shock wave. The engines operated as ordinary jets, but switched to ramjets at high speeds. At cruise, the plane had a nose-high attitude of about 7 degrees, so the engines canted down by that amount for more efficiency.

Rather than just a small, trailing edge flap, the entire rudder assemblies pivot. The twin rudders tipped in by about 10 degrees to take advantage of the vortices from the long nose. The two, trailing edge control assemblies called elevons, worked as both elevators and ailerons.

Ray Torrick and a group of airplane experts would follow the taxiing A-12 out to the end of the runway in a radio equipped Ford station wagon. For our tests, the A-12 took off and flew to the north, while climbing to gain altitude and maximum speed. The F-101 or F-104 chase plane took off first, circled and tried to fly next to the Black Bird as it took off. Near the north edge of the Lake, he would begin climbing, but the chase planes could not match his climb rate, so their flight paths formed a curved leg "V." The A-12 would soon go out of sight, but we could hear the roar of those big engines long after it went from view. The pilot would try to cross above the Airways that went east-to-west between Currant VOR and Coalville VOR.

He would reach altitude and speed near Twin Falls Idaho. The pilot would make a simple radio call that he was beginning his turn. [At Mach 3, the turn radius was 86 miles.] When we heard that call, we had only a couple of minutes to get our equipment on and the magnetic tape recorder up to speed, before he went screaming overhead. Our antenna trailer was slaved to EG&Gs big radar dish next door. That radar relied upon a Nike Radar System to acquire the bird, and then it could track an onboard beacon. During the early tests antenna engineer, George Hahn worked on lowering the radar-cross section (reflectivity) of our can-backed, spiral antenna array, while retaining good gain and pattern. [The A-12's radar cross-section improved to only 22 sq. inches!]

Our van transmitted a simulated "Guideline" signal (SA-2s guidance signal) and the Red/Blue Dog system would respond with the jamming signal. The amplidynes of the antenna trailer screamed as they tried to slew our antennas fast enough to follow the A-12 streaking overhead with the characteristic twin sonic booms. It was hard to grasp that we had just witnessed a manned aircraft that had flown most of the North/South distance across Nevada in just a few minutes!

The southbound return flights usually flew somewhere between Battle Mountian and Elko, Nevada, so they were well within range of the Air Force Radar site on Winnemucca Mountain. The first flights caused some Radar Operators to think that they were seeing incoming Soviet missiles, due to the altitude and speed, so they inititated NORAD ALERTS. The Area-51 Operations had to start notifying them, via Nellis, that on certain days they might see very high and fast targets, but they were not to track them nor declare them to be threats. Many years later, fellow employee, KEN CUNNINGHAM who had served 20 months at the Winnemucca Mountian site, told me that when he served in Alaska, the Operators called that type of order: "NO TELLS".

Our system contained a frequency sensor on the 400 Hz power lines that prevented it from turning on unless the engines (and line frequency) were up to RPM. Some pilots thought they heard sounds in their headsets that might have been from our system turning on early, so we ran a ground test to prove it. [We carefully tested this feature at the Lab., so we were confident that it was OK.]

One night, we towed the suspect airplane to the run-up pad and tied all three landing gears down with big, steel cables. We connected our cooling cart and test cart in order to monitor the system during engine run up. We moved the test cart as far from the plane as the cables would permit. We stuffed toilet paper in each ear and put on "Mickey Mouse ears" sound protectors. Ray Torrick started both engines and we signaled him to turn the system's power switch to ON. Nothing happened while the engines were at idle. He advanced the throttles a little and tried several ON/OFF cycles. It did NOT turn on. The noise was tremendous! At almost half throttle, the plane violently bounced and lurched in the restraints, but the system did not turn on. Ray was taking a beating! The noise was SO loud that you could shout next to a person's ear, but they could not hear you! Ray was afraid to go to any more power, so he shut down and asked the ground crew to add huge chains to OTHER tie-downs, just to be certain that it did not rip out an anchor and run away!

He started the engines again and when he got somewhere above half throttle, our system turned on as it was supposed to. He repeated the cycle several times and he grinned and nodded every time that we gave him a "thumbs-up" for ON. It was a dark, moonless night, so the engine exhausts were red, orange, and light blue torches licking out across the desert. We were standing there, enjoying the show when a guy came rushing out with an updated "Ash Can Report" (USSR Satellite Prediction). We had to quickly shut down and get the airplane into a hanger before the satellite was due over! One of the mechanics decided to play a little prank, so he moved a small plane into the spot vacated by the A-12. He said. "If the Soviets do have IR they will be amazed at the exhaust plumes (heat on the desert ground) from this little plane!" Since the A-12 was a secret plane, we took every effort to keep the Soviet Union from gaining any information about it. For example, how many existed and were at Groom Lake. One precaution was a daily review of the predicted Soviet satellite passes on "The Ash Can Report" by NORAD. The base placed all planes in hangers and out of sight by half an hour before every predicted pass. It was a real nuisance at times to have to stop work to move a plane into a hanger.

Then, the Government wanted to know if our system could still protect the airplane if it had engine trouble and had to fly lower and slower. Lockheed Test Pilot, Daryl Greenameyer flew that test. I was surprised to see that he was smaller than the other pilots were. He would have almost to idle one engine in order to get the plane as low and slow as the flight plan required. The first flight went very well, he was right on the track that we expected, and EG&G's radar reported the correct speed and altitude. When we talked with him at the debriefing, he reported that, at slow speed, one engine kept getting and "un-start." He also said, "Boy, that thing is a handful when low and slow!"

Later, Daryl made news a number of times when, 1) He flew a highly modified Grumman "Bearcat" in the Unlimited Class of the Reno Air Races. 2) He built a Lockheed F-104 "Star Fighter" from spare parts and broke the low-level speed record. He has flown the A-12 (and SR-71) faster than any world speed record. 3) In 1994/5, he led a crew that attempted to recover the B-29 "Kee Bird" that had sat on a frozen lake in Greenland, for 50 years. They replaced the engines and refueled it, but when he tried to take off from a rough, ice runway, the auxiliary power unit (APU) broke loose, started a fire and the plane burnt to the ice. Their only fire extinguisher had been stuck in the rear door where the APU fire started!

On 9 July 1964, a serious control problem caused the crash of A-12 airplane 6939. Lockheed Chief Test Pilot, Bill Park was flying that day and he radioed the tower of his control problem. Given the option to "punch out" or to stay with it, he chose to try to wrestle it back to base. He made it to final approach, from the south, when the airplane suddenly pitched up and rolled to the right. The airplane was almost on its right side, so he ejected almost horizontal from the plane. His parachute did open but he slammed down in the sagebrush on his side, near the end of the runway. He was slightly injured and his space suit was ruined. The plane crashed and burnt. Base fire fighters quickly extinguished the fire.

That morning we were working in the van getting ready for a flight test so heard the UHF radio traffic. There was no radio message about the bailout and crash, but we heard the sirens of the fire trucks and looked out of the van's door just as the ball of black smoke went up. The parachute was already down, so we did not know that Park had survived, until called to a meeting where we learned of the suspension of ALL A-12 flying until they found the cause of the crash.

It surprised some people to see that the boots of the pilot's space suits having little, stainless steel spurs. They attached to small cables that came from a reel under the seat. If he ejected, the cables retracted to jerk the pilot's feet and legs from under the instrument panel, and tight against the seat, before it ejected.

Project management immediately grounded all A-12 aircraft and moved the crashed airplane to a hanger for re-assembly to determine the cause of the crash. There was no flying for 16 to 18 months while correction of the design flaw, which turned out to be a stuck outboard aileron servo valve. The aircraft received a number of small modifications during the down time, including "C" shaped shields in the main wheel wells to prevent a blowout of one of the three tires from damaging the electrical or hydraulic lines. They also stuffed steel wool spacers between the skin and the fuel tank, which always leaked a little on the ground.

On 4 May 1978, Bill Park suffered serious injuries when he ejected from a "Have Blue" (F-117) demonstrator aircraft at Groom Dry Lake. His injuries grounded him so he could never fly again.

There was another A-12 (60-6929) crash at Area-51 on 28 Dec 1967 that did not make the newspapers either. It was due to a stupid mistake/design error. The airplane had an automatic attitude control system named, Stability Augmentation System (SAS). It had two identical, electrical connectors. One carried the UP commands and the other the DOWN commands. Someone had accidently reversed the connectors on that plane. When the pilot, Mele Vojvodich Jr. applied DOWN control, the nose went up. Some people thought that he could have overridden that, but he did not realize it so he ejected. The almost perfectly good airplane crashed into the desert just beyond the runway. It did not take long to determine the cause of the crash and to make the corrections.

The extensive flight-testing of Red Dog proved it to be a sound design that looked like it could protect the A-12 from the SA-2, earning us a contract to start producing 17 systems. It also required doubling the transmitter power. We called the production systems Blue Dog.

Our company set up a cover company called Electronic Research Consultants for Blue Dog within our closed area. This gave us two cover companies, one at the site and one in the plant. They installed several new phone lines the closed area and rented Post Office Box 1346 in Los Altos, CA in our secretary, Linda Hickman's name. That way, the many phone calls to/from the customer would not appear on the GTE phone bills and our mail would not go through the company mailroom. We answered our phones with simply, "Hello," with NO company or personal identification. We had a problem on one phone number. Transposing two digits and one called the number for the California Nurses Exchange. Some nurses were prone to make the error and insisted on knowing to whom they were speaking. We would simply hang up.

Even though each Blue Dog system had to pass severe environmental tests at our company, the Customer still insisted that each system had to prove that it would operate properly in the aircraft, so the flight tests continued at Area-51. We took the job very seriously for we knew that not only our company's reputation, but also a man's life and a very expensive airplane might some day depend upon it doing its job. Only a year or so later, we were extremely proud to see it work! However, secrecy demanded that we could NOT boast of that victory.

I did not spend much time at Area-51 during the Blue Dog testing, but watched over the final assembly and environmental test of every system. The single guys who spent most time at the Site were Chuck Blucher, Ken Swanson, Al Messer, Gary Wagoner, and John Pruitt. Charlie Dengler and "Bud" Mack were married, so they spent less time out there. I did go out one time to help trouble shoot a weird problem with the antenna positioning servos.

The pair of six-foot antennas went crazy every time they moved. After spending most of a day testing or replacing every circuit card, as a last resort, we went out to the trailer, which had only wiring. When we removed the many screws and opened the big junction box, the problem was right in front of us! A good-sized ground squirrel had, in some way crawled over ten feet through a metal conduit containing many cables. He was "Zapped" across several terminals when the power was turned on. His carcass was still gripping the terminals and sending signals to the wrong places. After removing the squirrel, it worked fine. We plugged the end of that conduit so it could not happen again.

During one visit to the Site, we received notification of another underground atomic test in the range to our west. About nine in the morning, we felt the earthquake like shake of the test. (Chicken wire wrapped about the florescent lights on the mess hall and hangers caught any bulbs shaken out by the underground tests or the daily sonic booms from the airplanes. A short time later, we learned of the underground test venting and the prevailing winds blowing the radiation toward us!

The "Connies" evacuated the non-critical people and everyone else assembled in the metal mess hall for possible evacuation. The authorities told us that the planes were on their way back from Burbank and for us to remain inside until then. The mess hall was open 24 hours a day, food was free, and we could order any short order, or sandwich at any time, so we had our favorite snacks.

We waited over an hour and no planes, and then someone told us that two AEC cars were driving around the area, monitoring the radiation levels. One guy in a gray, four-door Chevy with Atomic Energy Commission name on the doors stopped nearby and he was fooling around with some instruments in the rear. He did not seem to like us around and would not answer questions about the radiation levels that he was seeing. He just said, "Its OK." He got in and drove a couple of blocks to the other car. They stopped side-by-side for a few minutes, and then they drove off in different directions.

I have often wondered just how safe were the radiation levels since we were no more than 30 miles down wind of the atomic test site. If there was no risk, why did it take another couple of hours for them to issue the "All Clear"? Did the test expose us to atomic radiation without notice like the people of St. George & Cedar City, Utah during the above ground tests of the 1950s? During my stays at Area-51, there were five underground tests at Yucca Flats: "FADE" on 25 JUN 1964, "DUB" on 30 JUN 1964, "CENTAR" on 37 AUG 1965, "DERRINGER" on 12 SEP 1966, and "TORCH" on 21 FEB 1968.

Department of Energy, in their "Openness Report" stated that 114 of the 723 Underground Tests, since 1963 released radioactive material into the atmosphere! The most common radioactive effluent was IODINE-131 and they mentioned Krypton-85. They said, in part, that the leaked radiation wasG"contained within the borders of Nevada Test Site and the adjacent Government controlled Nellis Air Force Range." Area-51 WAS next to Nevada Test Site!

I-131 has an 8.03-day half-life and emits Beta & Gamma radiation. "Radioiodine has a strong affinity for the thyroid gland, which is the critical organ for exposure. Exposure to I-131 increases the risk for Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid modules, and cancer." Earl "Bud" Mack died of pancreatic cancer & I wonder if nuclear radiation could have caused it. I've lost track of the others who worked at Area-51 and wonder if any of them have had any health problems from the "venting" of underground tests. In January 2012, I phoned Ken Swanson and learned that he had information about some of the guys: Chuck Blucher had died after battling skin cancer on his back (probably melanoma) which metastasized. Al Messer had died (I do not know the cause). Ken himself has Parkinson's disease. Were these just normal events?

One nice, summer day, everyone received instructions to take an extra long lunch and to stay away from the hanger area until about 2 PM. We noticed that an Air Force transport plane arrived during that lunch hour. One end of a hanger was then a Restricted Area that allowed only a few special men. Some time later, we learned the reason for it. A disassembled Russian MIG-21 "FISHBED" fighter had been hauled in by that transport plane and re-assembled there in that hanger. When it came time to flight test it, the security had to be somewhat relaxed, because we were sure to see it at take off and landings. One day when we went to lunch, the MIG-21 was sitting on the ramp in front of the hanger closest to the runway. The MIG-21 was unpainted aluminum, except for red, Russian markings. We were able to walk right up to it and look it over.


Figure 3 - Mig-21 "Fishbed" from TD Barnes' Area 51 Special Projects Photo Collection

I noticed two things: 1) Under one wing, it had a UHF antenna that was an exact copy of the old Radar Altimeter antennas for a B-29. I had repaired or replaced a lot of them. The Russians obtained at least two B-29s during WW-2 and copied them as their "Bear" bomber. 2) The other thing was that through an open hatch, I could see the oblong warts on the rear fuselage were not any new technology as the Intelligence Reports speculated, but simply lead-filled weights for a crude weight-and-balance. I started laughing and said, "I can't believe it!" The guy who was with the plane was curious, so I told him about the antennas and the reports speculating about those bumps on the rear. He made a few notes as I spoke.

Air & Space Magazine May 2009, in the review of a book quotes: "In 1958, the Air Force became the temporary custodian of a Mikoyan-Gurevich MIG-21 Israel had received courtesy of a defecting Iraqi pilot." One afternoon, a helicopter pilot and a fighter pilot treated us to see a demonstration of some precision flying. The Air Force brought in a fire fighting team to Area-51 with a Kaman H-43B "Husky" helicopter. It was the one with dual, counter-rotating main rotors, but no tail anti-torque rotor. They carried several fire fighters inside of the machine and a big, red fire extinguisher down, between the skids.

A McDonald F-101 "Voodoo" chase plane must have called in with an indicated nose gear problem. The helicopter took off and flew toward the north end of the runway and climbed to maybe several hundred feet, then hovered there. His normal speed must have been much lower than the fighter's landing speed, so as the plane approached, he zoomed down toward the end of the runway, to gain speed and flew alongside of the landing F-101.

As he landed, the F-101 pilot kept the nose wheel up until slowing forced him to put it down. He gently touched it down, and then lifted it again. That must have seemed OK, for he then put the nose wheel down and rolled to a stop. The helicopter was right there by him, so the fire fighters could have been on the F-101 in just seconds if the gear had collapsed. I was amazed to see how close that 'copter pilot could chase the fighter. It turned out to have been a non-event, but it was exciting to watch.

We proved out our Blue Dog system a while before three A-12s were deployed to Okinawa under Project Black Shield. Four of the single guys took turns going over in pairs to support our system. Their mailing address was P.O. Box L.C, 824th CSG APO San Francisco 96239.

The first time that Gary Wagoner went overseas, we had a big "flap" on our hands. At Area-51, he took his plague shot, all others that were required, and went to all of the briefings, and then he came back to Mountain View for a week. He was single, so he had to close up his apartment and put his things into storage. He stayed a few days with his sister and brother-in-law. He scheduled to depart from Travis AFB early on a Sunday morning and Ken SWANSON who escorted him to our compound met him at Kadena Air Base. I asked Gary if he wanted me to drive him to Travis, but he said, "No, I will rent an Alamo car and drive myself." They had a rental office at Travis.

On Monday morning, I went in early, as was my habit, but as I started to work the combination on the outer door of the closed area, I could hear the phones ringing. We had four phone lines and all of them were ringing away. We also had a secure communications room. The buzzer and red light were showing traffic there too.

I punched in one of the flashing phone buttons and found our Contracting Office Technical Representative (COTR) Paul Taylor. He bluntly asked, "OK, just where the heck is Gary Wagoner? " Surprised by the question, I said, "Well, by now I think that he should be on Okinawa." Paul said, "Yes, He should be, but he is not, and the Security People are very upset!" I agreed to try to find out where he was, so I hung up.

By then, our Secretary, I think it was Charlotte Wilson [It could have been Chris Mcsweeney] had arrived and I explained what was happening, so that she could help answer the incoming calls. It took both of us several minutes answering calls before we could get free lines to start making our own calls.

Charlotte called Gary's sister and calmly asked if Gary got off on his trip OK. She volunteered that he had rented a car on Saturday. That he left there about midnight, for the long drive to Travis. Therefore, we did not have to tell her that he was missing at that time.

I had to call three different car rental offices before I found the one that had rented to Gary. The attendant gave me the description of his car and the phone number of their office at Travis. That office was open only between eight and five, so I had to wait a few minutes before I could go any farther. The agent at Travis said that the car I described was there when he opened but he could not tell me when someone dropped it off.

I asked him if he happened to have the number of the Military Airlift Command (MAC) Terminal on Travis. He gave it so fast that I needed a repeat. The Airman that answered at the MAC terminal was evasive, but I bluffed him into admitting that a Mr. Gary Wagoner was on a MAC flight manifest. He gave me only the flight number.

Charlotte typed up the facts and began preparing a message to answer the questions via the "Secure Comm.," while I called Paul Taylor back. I told him, in a rather sarcastic tone, that our employee, MR. Gary Wagoner was on the MAC flight number that they gave me. That the Military would not give me any more information and if Gary was not where he should be, it was probably the government's fault and not ours. I then hung up.

About an hour later, Paul called again and apologized for the flap. He said that the Security people had panicked when Gary was not on the expected flight. It all began when MAC changed their rule for reporting in from 2 hours early, to 3 hours. Gary was about 20 minutes short of their new 3-hour rule, so they would not put him on his flight. They moved him to one that was to depart one hour later; however, it had mechanical troubles, so they bussed the passengers to Oakland for a "World Airways" flight that left 3 hours later. While all this was going on, poor Gary was now sitting in the Kadena Terminal waiting for someone to meet him and take him to the project compound!

Gary later became very bitter about how the program treated him after he married an Okinawan girl. The program immediately yanked his clearance and sent him home. He could never again work on a "black" program because of his close ties to a Foreign National. He was bitter because guys (from other companies) openly shacked-up with Okinawan women, but the program booted him out when he married one.

During the last week of OCT 1967, there was a tremendous amount of excitement around our office when an A-12, flown by Denny Sullivan, flew a mission over the Red River in Viet Nam. The Communists made a maximum effort to shoot it down for propaganda effect, as they did with Francis Gary Powers on "May Day" 1960. A courier brought a pouch to San Francisco Airport that our manager, Don Thompson had to pick up. It contained the little, one-inch wide magnetic tape from the BLUE DOG system that went on that ride. The "Analysis People" including Clarke Miller worked all afternoon and into the night on that short, six-minute tape. The next morning, we learned that they could identify at least six, separate, "Guide Line" signal/sites on the tape. That was an unbelievable number in that short time! Each site could guide up to three missiles at one time, so that indicated that they fired from six to 18 missiles at one airplane. That was a huge investment for a poor country like North Vietnam! Dennis Sullivan's internet biography states,"Gat least six missiles were fired at the OXCART." Three detonated near the plane & they found one small piece of metal from a missile imbedded in a lower wing fillet. I can't explain the elation and deep satisfaction we had after working so diligently for several years, to see BLUE DOG work so well to protect the plane and pilot. However, we could NOT boast about it to anyone!

Ken Swanson came home for a quick visit on that week and reported that he heard that the pilot reported, "The sky was full of tumbling telephone poles." He said that the pilot also thought he saw about ten of them he said that some of them made an arc, high above him and turned back down. That description of the tumbling missiles was just what we expected from BLUE DOG jamming. One amazing thing was no one telling the pilot what BLUE DOG did. Their only instructions were to be CERTAIN that our system's switch was in the ON position and if our Red light and Tone ever came on, to immediately go to "Full Military Power" (Throttles to the firewall). The SA-2's reported speed was Mach 2.8, but the airplane could do over Mach 3.3, so it could out run a missile coming from the side or from behind!

Lockheed started modifying the upper hatch of the Equipment Bay after reports of missiles arching and coming back down. It installed a mirrored camera that could photograph this new ballistic, surface to air missile. The Program Office chose to allow them to go ahead with that cost, in order to keep the secrecy of our system. We had to bite our tongues to keep from bragging that the BLUE DOG caused that effect and saved the airplane and the pilot's life.

Charlie Dengler made a couple of two-month tours on Okinawa, but he became gravely ill with a combination of mononucleosis and hepatitis. He was off work for over six months and could not go overseas again even after he was well enough to work again. Chuck Blucher made several tours, and then he announced his quitting and joining a new company named Probe Inc. That made us short of two men. Ken Swanson became our prime man at Kadena. The Customer had a contract with another company for field support of all the other electronic systems, but they did not train them on our system. (Security Reasons?)

By then, we were at the bottom of the barrel for qualified field technicians. Gary Fahl was going through a divorce so he talked our Program Manager into sending him over as a replacement. I knew nothing about it until we got a furious telephone call from Ken Swanson. Gary had absolutely no experience or training on the system, so he was more trouble than help! Ken convinced him to go home after a week or so. We heard reports that the Air Force SR-71 squadron was replacing our A-12 Detachment, so there was no point in training more people.

I was asked to go over for less than two weeks to help Ken Swanson close up the shop and pack up for the return to Area-51. Ken was alone, doing a two-man job, so there was some urgency in getting there to help him.

During a quick trip to Area 51 29 March 1968, I was briefed and sent to get the required Plague shot. It surprised me to see a number of low, metal alert hangers built at the south end of the complex and two A-12s housed in most hangers. The military Doctor giving me the shot asked, "How soon are you going over?" I told him, "Early next week." He responded, "OH, No, that's just too close!" "These things are NO fun, and will probably make you very sick for a couple of days!" Tell you what I am going to do, I will sign your shot record, but put a note on it for the Medics on site if you will promise to get the shot just as soon as they can give it to you. You'll be sick there." I went home the same day, and did not spend the night at Area-51.

I also had to make a quick trip to San Francisco to get a new Passport. Because of their short hours, I had to go back the next day to the Public Health Hospital to get a Yellow Fever shot. Our Company Nurse could give me all of the other shots that I needed.

My flight on a World Airways 707 from Travis AFB was at seven A.M. on 1 April 1968. I had to use Alamo Rent-A-Car, as Gary used. In order to make sure that I did not miss my flight, I got there four hours early. The Airman at the MAC Terminal pulled my bags under the check-in counter and handed me the claim tags.

Most of the other passengers were young enlisted men from all three services. There were also several Dependant families, with small children, who became fussy after a few hours of flying. There were two families of employees of "Foreign Information Broadcasting Service" (FIBUS) called 'Fee-Buss'. There were a few military officers. I received the first seat by the entry door next to an Army colonel. We had plenty of legroom, which was scarce on cattle-car like flights of contract carriers. We later learned that the code words COIN READER on our orders indicated that we were to have the priority and privileges of a V-I-P traveler and could "Bump" almost anyone for a seat on a flight. That was why they seated me beside the colonel. Our orders listed us as employees of Lockheed California Company, Burbank, CA. (our "Cover Company" while we were overseas.) We also were to claim that we provided engineering services to the USAF.

We flew north along the California and Oregon coasts, which seemed all wrong, since we SHOULD be flying west to Japan. However, the Great Circle Route is shorter and loops up over the edge of Alaska and the Aleutians. Cloud cover hid the surface until just before we let down for landing at Anchorage. We flew down a waterway, between rugged, sharp, mountains, that disappeared into the clouds. It was very beautiful. We made a couple of gentle turns as the passage got narrower, and then we went over a peak and could see the Anchorage Airport. I later learned that the waterway was the beautiful Prince William Sound.

There were a few, scattered, frozen piles of snow in the shaded areas of the airport, and the temperature was in the 20's. One or two of the military families got off, along with the Armed Forces Courier. The rest of us remained seated with the doors opened for safety while they refueled the plane. The colonel and I enjoyed the fresh, cold Alaska air from our privileged seats! The flight attendants finally brought each of us two blankets that helped to quiet our shivers. There was broken cloud cover all the way from Alaska to Japan, so the only thing I saw were a few islands in the Aleutians and an occasional white trail wake behind a ship. We landed at Yokota Air Base, Japan in the early evening, just as the sun was setting. They allowed us to get off the plane, but restricted us to the Transient Waiting Room, while they serviced the plane. We lost about a third of the passengers there, but gained a few replacements.

As we taxied out to leave Yokota, we went by a parking area near a number of parked U-2 airplanes. The crew cautioned against anyone taking photographs, and the flight attendants watched to see that we obeyed the warning. The Departure Control kept us low and slow, so we were able to see a lot of the countryside. There were many small houses with blue, red, or green roofs. My Polaroid sunglasses caused the little streams to have multi-colored surfaces, so I wondered it they were that polluted.

We landed at a dark, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa at 8:30 P.M. local time (3:30 A.M. Pacific time) on 2 April 1968. I thought that was a dirty, April Fools joke! Because we had crossed the International Date Line, we lost the night of the First, and day of the Second of April! It was 23 years and 1 day after the U.S. troops landed on Okinawa in WW-2.

The smoke filled, Kadena Terminal was crowded with GIs, and there was no one there to meet me. I was very concerned, but went out to the baggage carts and found that the airman at Travis had given me the wrong claim tags for my bags. The ones I had matched a pink case and a woman's make-up kit. My bags WERE there, but with wrong numbered tags on them! I went into the terminal and attempted to phone our Compound with numbers given me at Area-51. They would NOT work!

I waited outside in the dark while wondering what to do about my lack of an escort. I was watching another plane approaching when a '65 Ford Econoline van drove up with Ken and Bill Beckers (of another contractor) to drive me to the hanger and security for a briefing and a badge.

We traveled about a mile off base to our Quonset hut in the Morgan Manor compound where they showed me my room. I went right to bed. I slept soundly until just before noon. Getting dressed, I found myself all alone in a strange place and did not know how to get around or how to contact any one. Fortunately it was not too long before Ken came back for lunch and took me to our mess hall that was operated by the Kadena Officer's Club. We were required to go on Base to join the Mess and pay the $5 monthly dues. Ken then showed me around the place. I got the Plague shot and it DID lay me low for over a day!

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 4 - Our House In Morgan Manor Okinawa

Morgan Manor was a group of WW-2 Quonset Huts in a little compound that was a mile north of the little town of Kadena Circle, at the north edge of the Air Base. It appeared to have been a U.S. Dependant housing area. Each Quonset hut divided in half with an entrance at each end. Each half had a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and four bedrooms. The closets in the bedrooms had two, high wattage light bulbs, near the floor, that were on continually, in order to try to reduce the humidity and to prevent mold. Those lights were just marginally effective for the glue in the single pair of cheap shoes that I had, became soft and they fell apart. I had to replace them at the Base Exchange.

There was a laundry and cleaners, both were in mobile home type trailers at the entrance to our compound and across from our mess. An old, yellow dog hung around the Mess trailer, probably for scraps from the guys. It would answer to the name of, "Hi, Dozo" [Japanese for: 'Yes, Please']. House Maids took our bundled laundry over and turned it in for us, but we had to pick it up when done. Since theft from Americans was a big problem on Okinawa, Okinawan Guards dressed in gray uniforms with white pith helmets patrolled Morgan Manor unarmed except for nightsticks.

I got a big surprise on my first day at work. I went to the restroom and when I washed my hands, & looked in the mirror, I saw the feet of an Okinawan cleaning woman under the door of a stall! Ken thought it was funny how I learned that the hanger's one restroom was "co-ed"! After that, I was careful to check on who might be in there before I started 'doing my thing'.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 5 - Okinawan guard at Morgan manor 1968

My tour on Okinawa was supposed to last just a week or so, but unusual circumstances caused it to stretch out to over six weeks. The reasons were:

1) The Dr. Martin Luther King assassination occurring on 4 April 1968, two days after my arrival. Since some of the other Black Leaders like Malcolm-X were preaching for the Black people to "Rise UP," so the military went on alert for widespread riot control. They pulled ALL air transports back to the Mainland for possible use in moving large number of Troops to the location of riots.

2) A Squadron from the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing form Beale AFB, with SR-71s replaced our Detachment of old civilians (under an Air Force colonel). Their One aircraft arrived at Kadena with a small group of support people, but the lack of transports also hindered them in getting Operational. They temporarily took over a small, light brown round top hanger, but were to move into our new, light blue hanger when we went home. Nothing much could happen until the transport aircraft came back.

Our work was relaxed, most of the time, since no missions flew during April. The last A-12 mission flew 2 days after I left for home, in May. Our electronics shop was a shielded room on the side of our hanger toward the town of Kadena Circle. The fire station in the town had a three-story training tower. We could not understand WHY a fire-training tower needed four or five different log-periodic antennas, ALL pointing toward our shop! We took extra care to keep the shielded door to our shop properly closed when our system was ON.

Our living quarters in Morgan Manor were about a mile north of the town of Kadena Circle, which was adjacent to Kadena Air Base. Kadena Circle was at the junction of North/South Highway One and the Cross-Island highway at the edge of the Air Base. The town was the favorite assembly point of the "Okinawa reversionist movement" (on Sundays). Their purpose was to get Okinawa to "revert" to Japan, and one of their favorite chants was "B-52 Go Home! "

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 6 - Reversionist's Car Passing Kadena APR 1968

We had strict orders to avoid the Demonstrations at all costs! Americans were NOT to be within sight when the demonstrations were going on. One Sunday, Ken and I were on a local bus that had just passed the Main Gate, when a convoy of "reversionists" came down Highway 1 in their overloaded Toyotas. They had both Japanese flags and huge, red flags on broomsticks held out of the rear windows. As they passed the bus, I was able to snap one quick picture out of the bus window. I thought Ken was going to choke! He was upset about us being in sight during their demonstration and photographing it. We could hardly have avoided them.

I did not think that they even saw us, so nothing happened. Okinawa DID revert to Japanese control on 14 May 1972. The U.S. retained the ability to maintain some of the Bases on the Island under a Status of Forces Agreement.

I could sympathize with their desire to get rid of the B-52s, that the GIs called BUFs (Big Ugly Fellows). The Vietnam War was near its peak, so there were nearly daily bombing raids flown out of Kadena. The Okinawa "Morning Star" paper said that they were bombing the North Viet's supply base in the Ashua Valley. The range to the targets was so great that it was necessary to refuel the bombers in flight. In order to get the B-52s over the targets during daylight, they took off between 3 and 5 A.M. The Tankers took off 1 to 2 hours earlier, so you could expect to hear the continuous roar of heavily loaded airplanes from about midnight until 6 A.M. Then some of them would start returning about 7 A.M. The poor people who lived near the air base could not get a good night's sleep! That is the reason for me to agree with them GG. B-52, GO HOME!!

However, if you wanted to hear some real noise, just hear one of the A-12s or SR-71s take off!! It was kind of a joke about how many people had car trouble on Highway 1, by the end of the runway when one of them was on the taxiway! The Air Police were not very effective in keeping them moving. Some "Locals" tried to fix their engines with a camera!

There were two bus systems on Okinawa, The Ryukyu Bus Co. and The Okinawa Bus Co. Some of their routes overlapped, since the main highways run along the edges of the Island. The two companies were as different as night and day. The rust color Ryukyu buses appeared to have rust spots. They rattled, smoked, and were in general disrepair. The Okinawa buses, painted a cream color, with light green trim, all seemed in good shape. The drivers decorated the inside of each bus with plastic flowers and played the radio for the passengers. When we got on, they would change stations to get U.S. music for us.

Ken Swanson and I found that when we had time off, we could take the bus all over the Island, which was usually on Sunday afternoon. The bus fare was just a quarter (U.S.). We took several self-guided tours while most of the others in our group never ventured beyond the bars in Kosa City and the other towns around the Base. But, we never did find a schedule or map of the bus routes, so our tours were on a trial-and-error basis. If our bus started going in a direction that we did not want, we just buzzed and got off and watched for a bus appearing to be going the way we wanted. It was a little challenging but fun. We saw sights like "Tea House August Moon" in Naha [Made famous by a '50s movie.], "Bembo" Laquerware Factory, and Suicide Cliff. Suicide Cliff is at the south end of the Island where many Okinawans and Japanese jumped to their deaths, in fear of the U.S. troops. There are many, large granite memorials on the bluff above the cliff.

IE SHIMA ISLAND. One of the most memorable trips that we took was to the Island of IE Shima (pronounced, ee-ah-sheema). It is a little island off the northwest coast of Okinawa. WW-2 War Correspondent Ernie Pyle died on that Island in April 1942. A ferry made one round trip per day from the Port of Toguchi. The road from Nago to Taguchi was only dirt at that time. So, the regular bus only went as far as Nago. We got to Nago in the afternoon, so took a taxi up to Toguchi. It was from the cab driver that learned that the ferry only ran once a day and left in the morning. We found the ferry landing, then went back to Nago & found a 'traditional' hotel for the night.

Ken and I found a place to eat breakfast, and then stumbled onto the one infrequent bus to Toguchi. It went right to the lane to the ferry slip and I think all of the bus passengers were gong to the ferry. There was a little booth at the end of the narrow lane down to the dock, where we bought our round trip tickets. People on their way to the ferry treated us to an interesting parade. There were young families with picnic baskets, old people with big bundles on their shoulders, young lovers clinging to each other, a group of schoolgirls in uniform, and a USO bus full of "round eyes."

The ferry's crew were all dressed in light grey, or tan shirt and pants, with yellow plastic hard hats. The crossing to the Island took two and a half hours. The peak of Mt. Shiro slowly poked its head above the horizon. A pier was all there was at the landing area on Ie Shima. Near the landing were scattered, small houses of the village of Kawahira and cane fields. A path leading up the slope toward the mountain also split to the west.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 7 - Some of The Ferry's Crew on Bow/ approach IE Shima

Most of the visitors seemed to be going toward the mountain. A small sign that read: "Memorial" pointed to the west, so Ken and I took it. We walked about a half mile with the group of schoolgirls following us to where we found the memorial to Ernie Pyle.

The monument for Ernie Pyle is a tall, white, concrete marker in the middle of a tree-ringed plot with a very moving tribute on a brass plaque. It reads, "ON THIS SPOT THE 7th INFANTRY LOST A BUDDIE ERNIE PYLE, 17 APRIL 1945." Fields of the island farmers surround the plot. It is a very peaceful place, so it was hard to imagine the terrible war that raged across that very place some 23 years earlier and that other Americans had lost their lives around this place. He was buried on site with other G I casualties, later they were moved to the Army cemetery on Okinawa.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 8 - Ernie Pyle Memorial Ie Shima Island 1968

In 1947, moving Ernie Pyle's remains laid him at rest among some of his "Buddies" in The Punch Bowl National Cemetery of The Pacific, on Oahu. He was the first civilian awarded the Purple Heart and buried in Punch Bowl.

We took photographs and roamed around the plot, until we noticed that the schoolgirls were holding back, out of respect, while we were there. We left and went back to the path to the peak. Many of the other visitors were having lunch at picnic tables along the path up the peak. It was then that Ken and I realized that we had come to spend the day on this island with no lunches!

On the back side of the peak, we could look out across a number of sugar cane fields and also see what appeared to be a military communications site with a big "antenna farm". There was a steep path down the backside of the peak, so we followed it down to a paved road that ran through the cane fields toward the antenna farm.

It was a blistering hot day and I could feel my exposed skin starting to get sun burned. We found a Day Room Quonset Hut outside of the chain-link fence that surrounded the Comm. Station where we were able to each buy a "Coke" and cool off for a few minutes. We left when the USO bus drove up. West of there, we enjoyed watching the waves break against a high, rocky cliff with built in water works. A little more to the west was an abandoned runway built by the Japanese during WW-2. There were several huge, anchor chains across the end of that runway that hooked Navy planes making an emergency landing. John Downey, a programmer at GTE, surprised me when he said that he was familiar with the Island and that airstrip. He had to land an A-26 Bomber on that airstrip at the end of WW-2. He said that there had been a control tower and a few other buildings there then.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 9 Ken Swanson at a Monument on MT. Shiro, IE Shima

We spent the entire day walking around and exploring the little Island of IE Shima. The ferry returned us to Okinawa at sunset.

Jack, Doc, & Eddie

Inside of our compound was a volleyball court and since I love the game, I became a regular player. We played most evenings after work, if it was not raining. Two of the other regular players were the Flight Surgeon, "Doc" and one of the pilots, Jack Weeks.

Doc was an unusual, super achiever type of individual. He was a medical doctor, with an Air Force rank of major and designated as a flight surgeon. He also wore pilot's wings along with paratrooper's wings and a Combat Infantryman's Badge. They said that he had just completed a tour of Vietnam. Doc continued to work on his serve, putting different spins on the ball. It already was nearly impossible to return one of his serves.

Jack was a little bigger than Doc was, near six feet tall, the limit on A-12 pilot's size. He had a booming voice and a great sense of humor. He loved to needle the other players, especially if we would respond in kind. He was the one who formed our team and named it: "Jack, Doc, & Eddie," a take-off on the old radio program of "I Love a Mystery" with Jack, Doc, and Reggie. Every day, he would ask me if I was ready to change my name to Reggie.

On most evenings, we would have a variety of other guys join us to form a complete team. The other guys seldom came out two days in a row. Due to the skill of my two teammates, we usually won every game against the impromptu teams that played us.

My only other contact with Doc was when I got the Plague shot, but I did occasionally see Jack around the hanger and the airplanes.

I had gone to Okinawa with the understanding that it would be for only a week or less, but the tour stretched out to over six weeks because of the assassination of MLK. All transport aircraft pulled back to the Mainland for possible movement of troops for riot control. During April, while I was there, the Unit was alerted a couple of times for possible missions, but none were flown.

The team on Okinawa regularly talked to our man at Area-51 via the secure, "Scrambled" phone. Ken relayed a message that our program manager, Bill Marcum wanted to show his appreciation for my filling in. He would send my wife to meet me in Hawaii, so we could have a couple of days there. (He hid the airfare under a charge for "pre-paid freight.) I left for home at 10 A.M. on 4 May 1968 on a brightly painted Braniff Airlines 727 to Hickum Air Base, Honolulu. Most of the passengers were military families with lots of squalling kids. Actor Fess Parker was also on board. He and his aides were returning from an USO tour to Vietnam. Four days after I left, Jack Layton flew the last A-12 "Black Shield" mission over North Korea. We had no idea of the political battles in Washington DC that ended the flights of the A-12.

The flight attendants were required to check the travel orders of everyone on the plane before departure. When they saw the words: "COIN READER" on mine, they wanted to move me up front, but finding a couple of rows of bawling kids, I chose to stay put.

Our plane landed at Hickum, Honolulu in the early morning hours and we had to go through US Customs. Everyone lined up and shuffled along in a sleepy daze. No one gave the Customs men any problems, so it went very smoothly.

My wife was not scheduled to arrive until about 10 A. M., so I decided to get a motel nearby and to get some sleep. I asked a cab driver to take me to the nearest motel so it took only a few minutes to get there. It turned out to be right under the takeoff path from Hickum/Honolulu Airport. The Air Force C-141 "Star Lifters" were going through there to the war zone, so they went over every hour or so. I said to myself. "It's a good thing that I am used to this kind of noise." She arrived at 10 A.M. on 5 May 1968, on a Pan Am 707.

Reddog Bluedog

FIGURE 10 My wife [Pink Dress] arrives Honolulu on Pan Am 707

We enjoyed five days on Oahu, and then we had to return to the Mainland on different planes. I put Midge on a Pan Am flight to San Francisco, and then went around the airport to Hickum for a contracted Continental flight to Travis AFB. They had a tuna casserole that made me very sick for about two days.

A few weeks after I left, Jack Weeks lost his life in an A-12 accident. He took off on a test flight with intent to fly in a triangular pattern over the Pacific. The first leg was to be from Okinawa south to a point opposite Manila, then the second leg was to go north/east, with the final leg back to Okinawa. He was on the second leg, about 500 miles east of the Philippines when the airplane disappeared. We learned that

"Birdwatcher" telemetry signal, via HF radio, suddenly went dead. That was startling, since it had a dual system that had never before failed. And, extensive air & sea search never found any trace of plane or pilot. I though a lot about the plane's disappearance and wondered if there was a possibility of someone mistakenly refueling it with the more volatile JP-4 jet fuel. The plane's extreme heat could cause that fuel's vapors to explode!

Jack Weeks was a fine man and I felt a deep grief and loss over this tragedy. It was the third time that someone that I have known did not return from a flight over the ocean. In his biography on the internet, one line pays the highest possible tribute to him: "Jack always carried a Bible with him when he traveled. He was a man of integrity who had the following creed hanging on the family room wall of his home." 'I DO NOT CHOOSE TO BE A COMMON MAN'

In 2004, I learned the following details of his accident:

"On 4 June 1968, Jack Weeks flew A-12 129 [60-6932] on a check flight prior to returning her stateside, after the right engine had been replaced. He refueled from a KC-135 Tanker 20 minutes after takeoff. Refueling was completed 13 minutes later and the tanker crew observed the A-12 climbing on course in a normal manner. This was the last visual sighting of the aircraft. A Birdwatcher transmission received 19 minutes later indicated right engine EGT in excess of 860 degrees C. Seven seconds later, Birdwatcher transmission indicated fuel flow less than 7500 pounds per hour and repeated the EGT exceeding 860. Eight seconds later, Birdwatcher indicated the A-12 being below 68,500 feet, and repeated the two previous warnings. This was the final transmission.

"Birdwatcher constantly monitors various aircraft functions, as well as equipment functions. The items monitored included: generators, altitude low, hydraulic pressure low, oxygen pressure, exhaust gas temperature (EGT), angle of attack high, fire warning, etc." [It ALSO monitored Blue Dog for activity]

"If a function exceeded the established limits, the Birdwatcher would key and modulate the HF transmitter with a coded signal. The coded signal was a multiplexed sample of each monitored item, including the item, which triggered the Birdwatcher. The aircraft was declared missing some 500 miles east of the Philippines and 600 nautical miles south of Okinawa. The accident report declared, "No wreckage of aircraft 129 was ever recovered. It is presumed totally destroyed at sea."

A-12 129 was the same aircraft that forced Jack to land at Wake Island for repairs, on the way to Okinawa.

On 26 June 1968, the Director of CIA, V. Adm. Rufus Taylor presented "Black Shield" pilots: Jack Layton, Frank Murray, Ken Collins, Dennis Sullivan, Mele Vojvodich Jr., and the widow of Jack Weeks with the "CIA Intelligence Star of Valor" medal at Groom Lake.

On 24 July 1968, the 1129th Special Activities Squadron, Bolling AFB, DC sent us civilians who had served with project "Black Shield" a Letter of Appreciation with the 'Air Force Outstanding Unit Award' ribbon printed on the header. Colonel Hugh C. Slater USAF signed it.

Reddog Bluedog

Figure 11 - Letter Of Appreciation Project "Black Shield"

San Jose Mercury News June 12, 1984 (section 6A)
President W. Clinton: Determination 95-45 "Air Force's Operating Location Near Groom Lake, Nevada."
San Jose News August 1, 1966 "Mystery Surrounds Test Pilot's Death"
William Burroughs "Deep Black" page 160.
Jim Goodall "D-21 Senior Bowl"
Jay Miller "Lockheed Skunk Works-First 50 Years"
James C. Goodall "America's Stealth Fighters and Bombers" page 16.
Jay Miller "Lockheed Skunk Works - The First 59 Years"
James C. Goodall "America's Stealth Fighters & Bombers" page 19
http://roadrunnersinternationale.com/vovodich.html "Groom Lake Duty"
Sandia National Labs. Jul 1994 "Official List of Underground Explosions" (UNEs) in Nevada
American College Of Preventive Medicine web site
Steve Davies "Red Eagles: American Secret MIGs" Osprey Press
Jeffery Richelson :Wizards of Langley" page 143
Jay Miller "Lockheed's Skunk Works - The First 50 Years:"
Jeffery T. Richelson "The Wizards of Langley" page 144
Morning Star Okinawa April 27, 1968 "Fresh Fighting Near Saigon, B-52s pound Ashau Valley"
http://www.voodoo.cz/sr71/timeline.html "A-12, YF-12A, & SR-71 Timeline of Events"
Jeffrey T. Richelson "The Wizards of Langley" page 146
San Jose News May 26, 1968 "Spy Plane Pilot Lost Over Pacific"
http://www.roadrunnersinternationale.com/weeks.html CIA PILOT Jack Weeks
www.habu.org/a-12/060932.html Aircraft 0-6932
Paul F. Crickmore "Lockheed SR-71 The Secret Mission Exposed"

Photos provided by Edward Power:

Burbank Air Port Gate BoardingPass for flight to Area 51
Burbank Air Port Gate Boarding Pass for flight to Area 51
Red/Blue Dog Magnetic Tape Recorder (Mfgr name & numbers had to be removed)
1964 Ed Power & Keith Root install High Power Traveling Wave Tube in Red Dog
1964 Red Dog going into Alt/Heat Chamber Bobbie Young below. Boiling Water tank on left
1965 Earl "Bud" Mack installs RF Circulator/isolator below TWT
1965 Aerial view Sylvania Mt. View, CA borders: Whisman Rd., S.P. Tracks, Mt View/Alviso Rd (237)
1964 Gary Worth & Lynn Murrell use Red Dog/Blue Dog Test Cart with System on Shake Table
1964 Red Dog Team: Chuck Blucher, Ted Algren, Don Strandbert use Test Cart