(Not to be confused with the Stars and Stripes)


The Atomic Testing Museum is proud to partner with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Roadrunners of Groom Lake in the Roadrunners’ celebration of their 21st Biennial reunion on the 7th and 8th of October. This will be the first public event where Nevada residents and visitors to the state can at long last be informed of the Roadrunners’ participation in winning the Cold War. Together we have teamed to organize and publicize a Roadrunner day where the Roadrunners and guests attending the Roadrunner’s 21st biennial reunion would spend two days conducting symposium panels and otherwise interfacing with the home town public for the first time ever. Adding to the event will be the Central Intelligence Agency supporting and participating with the EAA CIA store and in the symposium panels.
Forty years ago the Central Intelligence Agency’s ultra secret A-12 Project OXCART and Operation Black Shield were terminated and the planes retired. It wasn’t until the last few years that declassification of information about various cold war projects revealed the existence of the highly classified A-12 CIA project OXCART and Operation Black Shield where, for 6 years, the A-12 CIA pilots flying 15 miles above the earth photographed the movements of adversaries around the globe. During the flight phases of Area 51-based Project OXCART, 2,850 flights were completed for a total of 4,800 flight hours. There were 1,032 flights that reached or exceeded speeds of Mach 3.0 for a total of 675 flight hours at or above Mach 3.0. The maximum speed achieved was Mach 3.29 and the maximum altitude achieved was 90,000. During the last three years of OXCART, Mach 3.0 flights out of Groom Lake were made on a routine daily basis.
Project OXCART was the experimental test phase that was conducted in secrecy matching the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb. The CIA’s Oxcart Team at Groom Lake consisted of the 1129th Special Activities Squadron of the Air Force, Lockheed, EG&G Special Projects, and numerous support corporations. In 1962, the pilots transitioned from the Air Force into this CIA project, returning to the Air Force in 1968. Twenty-nine combat missions were flown during Operation BLACK SHIELD. Twenty-four were flown over North Vietnam, two primarily targeted over Cambodia and Laos and three flown over North Korea. The photo imagery taken on these missions was excellent. Enemy radar tracking was reported, ranging from brief reflections of the A-12’s presence to extended and accurate tracking. Surface to air missiles were launched at the A-12 without success.
Five of the A-12s were lost due to accidents. Two A-12 pilots were killed, Walter Ray near Groom Lake in January 1967 and Jack Weeks flying out of Kadena AB, Okinawa on 4 June 1968. After years of bureaucratic battles involving the CIA and the Air Force the program was terminated in 1968 – in favor of an Air Force SR-71. The remaining two A-12s in Okinawa left on 8 and 19 June 1968. The Operations and Maintenance facilities were given to the USAF for the SR-71 detachment. On 21 June 1968 Nevada resident Frank Murray made the final flight of an A-12 in Article 131 from the Area 51 Groom Dry Lake to the storage at Palmdale. In June 1968 OXCART & BLACK SHIELD were terminated as the BLACK SHIELD pilots were awarded the CIA Intelligence Star for Valor in the presence of their wives. Possession of the medal was withheld for many years because of the project’s existence remaining Top Secret.
Formerly classified TOP SECRET-OXCART, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C., Project OXCART and Operation Black Shield were declassified 14 December 1998 and September 2007. The September 2007 declassification coincided with the dedication of A-12 Article 128 at CIA Headquarters during the 60th anniversary of the Central Intelligence Agency. Various participants in the project were brought to CIA Headquarters where for the first time ever the names of the Oxcart participants were declassified and released. This represented to the Roadrunners as being the first official acknowledgment of their individual participation in the CIA’s Cold War Project OXCART in Nevada. The Atomic Testing Museum is proud to be the first to acknowledge and welcome home Nevada’s Secret Warriors of the Cold War. Information about the upcoming events can be obtained on the Internet or by contacting:
Dawn Barlow, M.A. T.D. Barnes
Director of Communications & Development President
Atomic Testing Museum Roadrunners Internationale
755 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119 702 566-4168 office
702-794-5147 office 702-481-0568 mobile
702-561-6372 mobile

Visit our:

Roadrunners Internationale website

Area 51 Special Projects website