"Images of Aviation - Area 51 - Peter Merlin"

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posted on Jan, 30 2012 @ 09:17 PM
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Images of Aviation - Area 51 is book that lives up to it's name. It is over 100 pages of photographs from Area 51. However, each chapter has a page or two of explanation regarding the era that will be covered. Also each photograph has a detailed explanation of what is occurring. For photographs of personnel, I'd be lost without the caption since only a few of the people such as Kelly Johnson are well known. Detail sometimes goes as far as the make, model and year of the vehicles.

One of the most interesting bits of prose is on page 51. The CIA inspect general notes that Groom Lake is "extremely vulnerable" "against unauthorized observation." This was back in 1961. Decades passed before the next land grab.

Many of the photographs show the base's "need to know" mantra. Page 111 shows camo netting over a hangar door so that a passerby couldn't see the YF-117A. On page 67, there is a fence set up to block the view of the first A-12.

Page 60 has an interesting tidbit. The dishes for the RCS at Groom Lake were relocated from Indian Springs. Indian Springs, being next to route 95, is totally unsuitable for any classified program.

Page 81 has a photograph of the Oxcart (A-12) pilots. Walt Ray, the pilot that died in the crash of article 928, is in it. The conclusion of the crash report was that the ejector seat wasn't exactly optimal for his build. You can see he is the shortest of the pilots, though not significantly.

Pages 95 through 98 show construction of the Papoose Mountain and Bald Mountain facilities. Papoose can be reached by road, but perhaps not that the time it was built. Bald Mountain on the other hand is only accessible via helicopter. Both sites were built using various choppers. Bald Mountain required 30k lbs of "cement" (probably concrete) hauled by chopper a 1k lbs at a time.

Of all the photographs in the book, the few unofficial (as in non-government) images were of Janet transports and the Ghost Squadron chopper. In over five decades, no outsider has published a photograph of a test article. The base even taunted the "watchers" when they leaked the "Bird of Prey" patch, as if they were saying "We are flying something, bet you can't catch it.] Nothing was ever photographed that the base really cared about. Thus Area 51 is the ideal classified flight test center.

Perhaps the author can published an index to the book online. That would be really handy to discuss the book.




posted on Jan, 30 2012 @ 09:33 PM
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Peter Merlin is a really cool guy, he definitely knows his stuff, and if he doesn't know, he knows where he can find out.



posted on Jan, 31 2012 @ 11:50 PM
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A few more interesting photos I should have mentioned.

Page 62 shows a RCS test of the A-12, but the model is not on a pole. Rather, it is on an inflatable bag. Mentioned but not really explained is they had the ability to test the reflections due to the exhaust plume using this model. With RCS, there is static and dynamic testing. Static is just for the shape using the pole model. Dynamic is generally looking at RCS while the actual plane in flight. The in flight testing would detect the reflection off the plume. Today this is done with a radar seeker plane like N105TB. It also looks for reflections due to control surface movements.

If you read the CIA declassified paper on the U-2, they mention the "dirty bird." It was an attempted to make the U-2 less observable. Page 27 shows some of the detail of the dirty bird.

Page 31 shows the U-2 chase cars, in this case some old Ford Country Sedan station wagons (1955 and 1957). I parked by the runway to Beale a few times and watched U-2 training. [The base really doesn't care, which is surprising given the crap I get fence watching elsewhere.). The basic scheme is still the same, but the chase car is newer.

There are a few MIG photos, but if you are into that, you should really get Steve Davies "Red Eagles".



 
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