RR Patch Roadrunner Heading U2_SR

YF-12 STORIES BY FRED TROST



YF-12I ( as an aging Captain) was appointed as the new Dep Director, Test and Deployment of the YF-12A's in early Jan 1963. After several visits to the Area via the Connies out of Burbank , we were ready for our First Flight. As I recall, it was about August of '63, and Jim Eastham was the Test Pilot. We all attended the pre-flight briefing with no problem. The flight was successful, and, as we all gathered for the debriefing, I was informed that there would be TWO debriefings. The first, Skunk Works personnel only; then the second with all the rest of us, including me, the customer! I asked why' I was informed that Larry Bohannon had set the rules and that was the way they always did it. I attended the second briefing and then headed back to Burbank and asked to see Larry. I was informed that, "that was the way Kelly wanted it!" I asked that we modify the ruling for all future YF-12A flights and was turned down. (I reported to Col Horace Templeton at the time, as SPO Director). I called "Temp" and explained why I felt that this was important to have ONE debriefing and he agreed with me! Temp called Kelly, and from that point on, we held ONE debriefing for all YF-12A (and subsequent SR-71) test flights! We all worked quite well together for the next 6 years!
In late 1963, the YF-12A's were starting to stretch their legs and preparing to test fire the AIM-47 (GAR-9) missiles. One of our test requirements was a launch at Mach 3.0 at 80,000 feet. Since the missile was capable of Mach 3.0 PLUS launch, we had a Mach 6 bird to worry about. We had to show the folks at Holloman that, with 'locked fins', the bird could fly at least 100 miles. This caused some concern among the ranchers living in the extended north range area!
We decided that it might be easier if we were to fire over the Pacific Missile Range . Two of us went of Point Mugu where I as the Test Boss and our Security Guy. We briefed two people at Point Mugu: a civilian named Fuller in Special Ops, and the Admiral, 'Jocko' Clark, USNA Class of 1927! (Happens to be the year I was born!). ((And, I was Class of 1951!)). We invited the two to accompany us to the Ranch for a formal visit and show and tell. They accepted, naturally! We picked them up a few days later in the 'non-existent' U-3A from North Base and flew them to the Area for a full day walk about, and returned them to Point Mugu late that evening.
From that point on, all our missile launches were over San Nicholas Island and all were successful! We had a guy 'in a trench coat' positioned at each tracking camera, who took possession of the tracking data as soon as the mission was over. Likewise, we removed all the 'timing pips' from the vertical plotting boards in Master Control to make it a little tougher for those in the room to see how fast the bird really was!
Final point: the entire YF-12A mission activity over the Pacific Missile Range was on the basis of a handshake between Admiral Clark and me. NO paperwork and NO funding was ever requested nor provided!!  I am afraid we could not get away with that today!


back         Home         Email
See a broken link or error, have a story or photo to add - please email the webmaster  - -  Page last modified 07/31/2008