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Originally posted by mbkennel
It was Watertown only when it was a CIA base, and used for the development and operation of
the U-2 and SR-71.
Watertown I think was Allen Dulles' (a big CIA director in late 50's--early 60's) hometown.
Now I think it is
"Detachment 3, Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base" which
operates the facility near Groom Lake.
They don't talk much about "detachment 3" in public, but I remember seeing on a
DOD web page, where they had biographies and resumes of high-up generals that
a number of them, especially in the space program (including Shuttle personnel) had
prior tours of duty as AFFTC.
In some ways that makes sense---if you are a shuttle pilot, you have to be really good and able to make a "dead stick" landing of an unpowered rock, coming in at very high speed, on a very long runway.
Where else would you have similar experience? Obviously, high performance high-altitude aircraft, e.g. SR71, U-2, and whatever else. They are designed for high performance and speed at altitude, and are a bitch to fly at low altitude.