My, my, my…..It appears pigs can actually fly.
After ONLY 3 stinkin’ years and 5 months, the good ol’ CIA finally coughed up the hairball that was my FOIA request for the crash records of 928. This was after several bouts of annual letters from me to Congressmen and Senators, whining about things dragging on so long. Not that I think that sped things up in the least…I’m sure the CIA works at its own speed.
But it was worth the wait! A wondrous pile of 52 documents, perhaps totalling 150 pages or so, mostly stamped “Top Secret”. Maybe a quarter to a third are simply press reports tracking what the media got wind of (those were merely stamped “Secret”), but the remainder consist of some very choice stuff, including the results of the investigation. Not too much was blacked out, except CIA/Groom personnel names, ANY reference to Groom and certain security channels. There were no photos, only documents. In all, the documents fill in all the remaining blanks in the story, and I finally get to put it to rest. While there are plenty of references mentioned to other documents I did not receive, and suitable for further FOIAs, I have no interest in waiting another three years. I’m done. I have what I want.
Beyond the actual crash reports, this great pile of documents also contained a number of gems. Here are the more interesting of them:
- The crash incident was given the code name “LAW CODE” in all correspondence.
- The canopy wasfound by a helicopter five days after the crash just over a mile away from where Ray impacted. What appears NOT to have been found (and apparently still to this day, as there was no reference to them ever being found) were two cameras, mounted inside the canopy. These could have provided info on cockpit activities.
- Kelly Johnson objected to the official cover story of it being a crash of an “SR-71 type aircraft”. He wanted it referred to simply as “an experimental model”, apparently eliminating any reference to a Lockheed product. After discussion, the official press release ended up describing it as “an experimental model of the SR-71 aircraft.”
- A U-2 photographic overflight was launched the day after the crash and the resulting photos used to search for the pilot, canopy and cameras.
- There were over 80 personnel in Meadow Valley at times, overseeing recovery operations. They created a small economic boom in Caliente, booking all the rooms in town. Local ranchers were employed to help with some of the operations (probably camera searching), and horses were going for $5 a day. Military roadblocks into Meadow Valley were at Elgin and Carp.
- Special instructions were issued for for staff wishing to attend Ray’s funeral in Palmdale:
- It should be limited, if possible, to close friends.
- No uniforms were to be worn.
- Personnel were instructed not to sign funeral registers.
- Conversations with unrecognized individuals should be avoided. If pressed about where they worked, attendees were instructed to just say “Lockheed”. Staff from Hughes and Pratt & Whitney were allowed to ‘fess up to working at their actual companies.
- Any staff from the SR-71 group at Edwards AFB planning to attend were urged to wear their uniforms.
- There were two memos generated on January 10th, concerning Marvin Miles, then the Aviation Editor for the Los Angeles Times. Apparently he had been calling the Edwards Public Information Office saying he thought something was up, and unless he was given a firm reason to believe otherwise, we was going to publish an article with some undefined “exposure” of the entire incident. It was suggested the issue be passed on to Kelly Johnson for comments. As far as I know, nothing particularly revealing was ever published in the LA Times.
Finally this: There was a chase aircraft along for at least a good portion of Ray’s flight. At the end, the chase aircraft didn’t see him eject, but noted the flameouts and watched 928 nose over and descend steeply into a cloud deck at 18,000′. It would appear this second craft was either an A-12 or SR-71. The reason the second craft is probably another Blackbird is due to the description of the two aerial refuelings by the accident report summary. It states the second left him 4 to 5,000 pounds below what was programmed for him. It also says that “…during the second refueling the chase aircraft refueled first and took 4,000 pounds of fuel which if available to the primary aircraft would probably have enabled the aircraft to return to home base.” If the chase plane was burning the same exotic fuel as 928, it pretty much has to be a Blackbird.
So, for the first time anywhere, here are the actual reports, describing the incident. (Who else treats you this well!??) Rather than scan them in as multiple large gif files (and their quality is pretty poor), they’ve been scanned in as regular HTML files. The small amounts of censoring contained within them are denoted by [XXXXX].
- Preliminary Report of the operations staff, up until the time of the crash.
- The Summary Report of the accident investigation team.
I’m outta here……….