By Ben R. Rich
The onetime director of Lockheed's Skunk Works, the top-secret facility that built the U-2 secret agent airplane and the stealth fighter, unearths the behind-the-scenes drama fascinated about the improvement of the military's aerial expertise. 50,000 first printing.
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Extra info for Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed
S. military airplane or any new Russian MiG. Ten thousand to one hundred thousand times, Kelly. ” Kelly remained unmoved. “Theoretical claptrap, Ben. ” We had a ten-foot wooden model of the diamond, and we took it and the original wooden model for the manta ray–shaped D-21 drone and put them side by side into an electromagnetic chamber and cranked up the juice. That date was September 14, 1975, a date etched forever in my memory because it was about the only time I ever won a quarter from Kelly Johnson.
No one would dare to claim that the Hopeless Diamond would be a beautiful airplane. As a flying machine it looked alien. ” Dave seldom minced words; he kept a fourteen-inch blowgun he had fashioned out of a jet’s tailpipe on his desk and would fire clay pellets at the necks of any other designers in the big drafting room who got on his nerves. Robertson hated having anyone look over his shoulder at his drawing and reacted by grabbing a culprit’s tie and cutting it off with scissors. Another opponent was Ed Martin, who thought that anyone who hadn’t been building airplanes since the propeller-driven days wasn’t worth talking to, much less listening to.
Kelly started the Skunk Works during World War II, had been Lockheed’s chief engineer since 1952, and was the only airplane builder ever to win two Collier Trophies, which was the aerospace equivalent of the Hollywood Oscar, and the presidential Medal of Freedom. He had designed more than forty airplanes over his long life, many of them almost as famous in aviation as he was, and he damned well only built airplanes he believed in. He was the toughest boss west of the Mississippi, or east of it too, suffered fools for less than seven seconds, and accumulated as many detractors as admirers at the Pentagon and among Air Force commanders.
Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich