A-12 Oxcart Spyplane

A Short Detour Into Modern History

At work, I try to keep my staff’s stress levels in check by having a “Word of the Day” or a “Trivia Question of the Day” posted on a white board.  The way this works is that I, or anyone on my staff, will write a word or trivia question on the board for everyone else to look up at their leisure.  For words, someone on the staff is to write the definition of the word on the board along with a sentence using the word of the day.  For trivia, they are to answer the question on the board with any interesting supporting details.  The Word of the Day often leads to a Trivia of the Day.  For example, the word “Laconic” led to the history of the inverted “V” on American armored vehicles seen Desert Storm and on Spartan shields in recent movies like “300”.  Needless to say, this diversion has become quite popular, and we’ve moved the white board into the public space outside our office so that others can participate.

Last week’s trivia of the day was “What is the A-12 Oxcart?”.  There was a lot of speculation about this question and a quick search of the interweb reveals an airplane everyone assumes to be the SR-71 spyplane.  However, the A-12 is the almost unknown predecessor to the famous SR-71.  Additionally it was faster and flew even higher than the SR-71.  The A-12 shown below is on display in Huntsville, Alabama, at the US Space & Rocket Center.

A-12 Oxcart Spyplane

A-12 Oxcart Spyplane

This plane is awaiting restoration and the construction of its permanent display.  It is currently sitting just outside the main entrance to the museum.

The “Archangel” #12 (A-12) was developed by the CIA in conjunction with Lockheed and was operational from 1963-1968.  To put this into perspective, this was only five years after Sputnik was launched into space, and the A-12 program ended before the NASA moon landing in 1969.  The first digital wrist watch didn’t even hit the market until 1970, a full two years after the A-12 was retired.  The A-12 is an amazing piece of technology from an era of flight that was only 60 years after the Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk.  So if the A-12 spyplane became operational 53 years ago, what is flying up there today?


2 comments on “A Short Detour Into Modern History

  1. Nick Van Valkenburgh

    Restoration is complete. Let me know if you would like updated photos

    1. techwriter007

      I’d love to add them to the post!

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