September 2011 Roadrunner News
As some of you know, Frank Murray of A-12 Pilot fame is authoring another bit of our Roadrunner history that has never been published before. The subject of his latest contribution to our OXCART and BLACKSHIELD history and legacy is the secret moving of the A-12 Articles from the Skunk Works to Groom Lake. Many have seen the declassified photos of the convoy of California highway patrol, CIA security, etc. escorting semi trucks loaded with huge boxes containing the A-12 planes. What few realize is that this classified movement occurred for the transport of each of the A-12 and YF-12 Blackbirds we flew at the Ranch. (Two SR-71s were also delivered to Palmdale in these boxes). At the time, it was a really big deal. We have some photos of the boxes being constructed at the Skunkworks and those of that one trip to Nevada. Frank is seeking any additional photos, stories about the moves, details on the routes taken, security concerns, incidents, etc. How were the planes removed from the boxes; were the boxes torn down for transport back to the Skunkworks, etc. This is an unknown piece of our legacy and history, folks, so get those brain cells working and help Frank put this in the history books.
Along this same line, Col. Sam Pizzo has provided an excellent article about who all arrived when he did at the Area, how he was recruited by Col. Holbury, and a descriptive account of what the mission planners did at the Ranch during the OXCART flIghts. Sam is adding this chapter to his book that he will soon have available as an ebook for download on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It is an excellent book and Colonel Pizzo is to be commended for his time and effort to record this for the sake of history. The added paragraph is being published by the Atomic Testing Museum for distribution on October 4 during the Roadrunners Internationale reunion.
Concerning the Roadrunner reunion (3-6 October, Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas), we are very happy to report a much larger turnout than previously expected. The registration count is now over 200. Initially, the Roadrunner reunion organizers planned two activities: A day at the Atomic Testing Museum similar to the last reunion where we would have conducted panel discussions before the public and the media (last reunion it was for C-Span). For a second activity, we planned a tour of Bigelow Aerospace, the company with two expandable modules in orbit, a concept that will eventually develop into human habitats in space. When the Roadrunners attending the reunion stated a lack of interest in either activity, the reunion organizers dropped both activities and are leaving it up to those attending to make their own fun.
The lack of Roadrunner interest in the Atomic Testing Museum event did not terminate the event. The Roadrunners were given the privilege of kicking off a 2-year exhibit titled “Area 51 – Myth or Reality. Details of this project were covered in previous newsletters and we thought that the Roadrunners would welcome being a part of it. Some of the Roadrunners do want to participate, so NVAHOF, the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame stepped in to assist the ATM (Atomic Testing Museum) in making it happen. Several Roadrunners are participants in NVAHOF and support its efforts to maintain the legacy of the Roadrunners as well as the other aviation and aerospace activities occurring in Nevada. Next year, NVAHOF plans to conduct its Hall of Fame ceremony as part of the Reno Air races. While it already has a great track record, NVAHOF is still in the seeking grants and sponsorship stage. Check us out at:
2010 Hall of Fame Induction at the Henderson Executive Air Terminal
Roadrunner Jack Bassick of David Clark Co. made available to the Area 51 exhibit at the Atomic Testing Museum the duplicate pressure suit of A-12 pilot
Jack Weeks, whom we lost in the Pacific during Operation Black Shield. Several other Roadrunners are contributing to the exhibit as well. The Pratt & Whitney personnel are bringing back the great exhibits they brought to the last reunion. Associate member Joerg Arnu, Pete Merlin, and Dr. Paul Suhler are contributing their exhibits as well. The Roadrunner staff will also contribute to the exhibits.
As we mentioned in the previous newsletters, NVAHOF and Col. Allan Palmer, Executive Director of the ATM, and the ATM staff are striving for a permanent Area 51 exhibit at the ATM. The City of Henderson, Nevada is also talking to NVAHOF about it having a building within the future Space & Science Museum for exhibiting artifacts of Area 51. As most of you know, the state of Nevada did not retain any of the technology demonstrators first flown in Nevada, starting with the U-2 and A-12 that flew out of Groom Lake. We intend to persuade the state to adopt and modify the motto of Las Vegas to - “What happens in Nevada stays in Nevada.” In this regard, besides the mentioned museums, Nellis AFB has expressed an interest in our obtaining a U-2 or A-12, however it appears that neither are available at this time.
Regarding the 18-month Area 51 exhibit that the Roadrunner members and others are kicking off on the 4th of October, this is not a one-time event. Each month, we plan to organize a public educational event where a group, our CIA security guards for an example, will field an informal Q&A session for the public visiting the exhibit. Each month will be a different team or declassified project occurring at Groom Lake. I emphasize educational as many of those attending will be organized school events to educate our youth. Both NVAHOF (a 501(c )(3) nonprofit) and the ATM are devoted to education. While NVAHOF will be participating in the ATM project, being an entity covering the entire state, NVAHOF will initiate similar activities with the Navy at Fallon, NASA, and the civilian sector. To explain the Oct 4th event more fully, the following is from the organizer at the ATM:
The museum is gearing up for the Men of Area 51 event on Oct. 4th and the
Area 51 exhibit that will open in the Spring.
We are hoping that you will all participate in our events.
The Oct. 4th event will include meet/greet and talk segments. Rather than do panels that can only have a few participants we are doing a series of talks throughout the day. I am setting up the program so is you or a group you put together would like to give a talk on some aspect of Area 51 or project development let me know. If you want to participate in the meet and greet and need a table area -
also let me know.
The exhibit on Area 51 will have a number of areas that spotlight the workers of Area 51. Visitors will receive an ID card with real peoples names, photos and job on them and that persons story will be woven into the exhibit. I want to spotlight you! If you are willing to participate in the exhibit please send me a photo (then or now), and information that includes}
Height, Weight, Hair Color, Eye Color, Job Title and brief description of your job.
The last event we did at the museum was incredible. This year, the Oct. 4th event will be bigger and better and is the kick-off for the Area 51 exhibit and 18 months of events. Already both the Travel Channel and the History Channel have been to the museum to do stories on the future exhibit. I really would like you to be a part of this event.
Thanks for your help,
Karen Green, Curator
Atomic Testing Museum
755 East Flamingo Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89119
We hope our fellow Roadrunners will think of NVAHOF as a disposition of your memorabilia affiliated with Groom Lake or any other aviation/aerospace activity occurring in the state of Nevada. Speaking for NVAHOF, we hope you will consider supporting our goals. Besides honoring those who significantly contributed to aerospace in the state of Nevada, we are seeking to establish two student scholarships to assist our future engineers, astronauts, etc. In meeting their goals. We welcome you to visit the NVAHOF website being constructed by students: http://nvahof.org/. I am attaching our latest news release to enlighten you further on our activities to carry on the legacy of the Roadrunners and those serving after us at the Ranch.
Putting my Roadrunner hat back on, the Roadrunner staff has made great headway towards getting our aging house in order. The Roadrunner website is now being administered by Associate Member, Joerg Arnu. Arnu was born in Hamel, Germany in 1962. He obtained his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Hanover in 1986. He worked as a software engineer for Siemens in Berlin and then founded his own software company to develop control systems for stage lighting. Arnu lives in Las Vegas and is employed as a software engineer. He has assisted with the management of the Roadrunner website for the past 4 years. He and Barnes will continue to work together on the website with the intent for Arnu to continue it when Barnes no long can. Arnu will be the prime maintainer of the site on non-personnel matters. Barnes will continue upkeep of the roster and technical matters relating to OXCART.
Frank Murray will continue as our historian as we establish and record the history of the Roadrunners known only to those with boots on the ground at the time. However, to maintain our legacy project, Associate Member Pete Merlin is taking custody of our association administrative records. Merlin was born in Hollywood, California. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Studies from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Merlin is a member of the Flight Test Historical Foundation and Nevada Test Site Historical Foundation, as well as an associate member of Roadrunners Internationale. Merlin has worked as an archivist and historian at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, under various contracts since 1997. He is the author of Mach 3+: NASA/USAF YF-12 Flight Research, 1969-1979 and co-author of Donald L. Mallick’s autobiography The Smell of Kerosene: A Test Pilot’s Odyssey, both NASA publications. He has written From Archangel to Senior Crown – Design and Development of the Blackbird for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a technological case study of the design evolution of the A-12 and SR-71. With Tony Moore, he wrote X-Plane Crashes: Exploring Experimental, Rocket Plane and Spycraft Incidents, Accidents, and Crash Sites, a collection of stories about aerospace archaeology published by Specialty Press. As a freelance writer, Merlin has published numerous articles on the Internet as well as in a variety of periodicals, including AIR&SPACE Smithsonian Magazine, covering subjects from aerospace history to nuclear weapons accidents. He has also appeared on such television programs as Man, Moment, Machine: Shot Down – The U-2 Spy Plane; Modern Marvels: Edwards Air Force Base; Inside Area 51; UFO: Down To Earth – Retrieval; Return to Area 51; Mystery Hunters; and Atomic Journeys: Welcome to Ground Zero. A founding member of the X-Hunters Aerospace Archeology Team, he specializes in recovering historic aircraft artifacts from crash sites in the southwestern United States.
Fred White is our official Roadrunner photographer. For those events where Fred could not be present, Associate Member Mike Schmitz has been fulfilling this position. Schmitz covered our event in Mobile where we and the CIA paid remembrance to Jack Weeks on the 40th anniversary of his death. He participated in this capacity at the recent 10-day OXCART Legacy Tour in Washington, and covered the 80th birthday bash of CIA U-2 pilot and legend Marty Knutson. Schmitz has provided photographer services at all our last few reunions, and has designed and produced the legendary photos of the A-12 pilots grouped with the image of the A-12 that Roadrunners Internationale presented to the Director of the CIA, top officials of the CIA, various museums, and dignitaries having interest in our proud legacy. Schmitz served in the Air Force as an enlisted man with the SR-71.
Each of these individuals are affiliated with the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame as historians to ensure the legacy of the Roadrunners is not forgotten. Associate Roadrunner Member Connie Pardew-May is the NVAHOF Director of Communications and Development for Northern Nevada. Dawn Curtis is the Director of Communications and Development for Southern Nevada. Jim Braum is the treasurer. Associate Roadrunner Mike Schmitz is the official photographer. Schmitz covered the inaugural induction last year. Associate Roadrunner member Robert Friedrichs is the co-founder of NVAHOF with Roadrunner president T.D. Barnes, the Director of NVAHOF. Friedrich recently retired from DOE where he served as Scientific Advisor for the National Nuclear Security Agency. Friedrich continues to consult for _ _.
Those attending the reunion, we'll see you very soon. We hope to see the rest of you at the reunion after this one.
Thornton D. (TD) Barnes
468 Palegold St., Henderson, NV 89012 (702) 566-4168
"You can delegate authority but not responsibility"
What did you do today for freedom?