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Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir from the U-2 to the Stealth Fighter

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Skunk Works is the true story, told for the first time, of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the story of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a high-stakes drama of cold war confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds.

Here, for the first time, is the inside story of Lockheed's Skunk ...

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Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed

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Overview

Skunk Works is the true story, told for the first time, of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the story of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a high-stakes drama of cold war confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds.

Here, for the first time, is the inside story of Lockheed's Skunk Works--the supersecret facility that developed the U-2, America's most successful spy plane; the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest-ever production jet; and the F-117A stealth fighter, the radar-invisible attack plane used during the Gulf War. "Dynamite--the true story of one of America's crown jewels!"--Tom Clancy. of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lockheed's Advanced Development Project has set standards for the aerospace industry for half a century. Under its presiding genius, Clarence ``Kelly'' Johnson, the Skunk Works produced America's first jet fighter, the world's most successful spy plane (U-2), the first three-times-the-speed-of-sound surveillance aircraft and the F-117A stealth fighter. Rich was Johnson's right-hand man and succeeded him as director in 1975, retiring in 1990. In an entertaining style, the authors describe Johnson's tyrannical managerial style, his thorny but productive relationship with the Air Force and the stealth-technology breakthrough that revolutionized military aviation. Writing with freelancer Jonas, Rich also recounts Skunk Works' failures, including experiments with liquid hydrogen as a propellant and spy-drone flights over China's remote nuclear test facilities. He has much to say about the Defense Department bureaucracy and warns, ``Everyone in the defense industry knows that bureaucratic regulations, controls, and paperwork are at critical mass... and... in danger of destroying the entire system.'' This is a significant book for those interested in aerospace research and development. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Since its inception in 1943, the Skunk Works has been one of the most top-secret military contractors. Now that the Cold War has ended, its story is uncloaked by former chief Rich, now retired. Using a small number of expert employees, the Skunk Works built technologically advanced aircraft that were disavowed by the government and its users, the Air Force and the CIA, for years after the aircraft were operational. The Skunk Works built notable planes such as the P-80 (the first operational jet fighter), U-2 (the high-altitude spy plane), and F-117A (the Stealth fighter). The story of Stealth's development is most interesting not only in the design, building, and testing but also in its origina in a Russian scientist's paper on aeronautics. There are first-person accounts of some of the missions flown by pilots and notes from many government officials. Highly recommended.-William A. McIntyre, New Hampshire Technical Coll. Lib., Nashua
Booknews
An account by the head (1954-1975) of Lockheed Advanced Development Co. Rich guided the creation of the U-2, Blackbird, Stealth. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Barbara Jacobs
The U-2, the stealth fighter, and the Blackbird are all products of Lockheed, or, more specifically, the company's Skunk Works--probably the first example of corporate TQM in the U.S. Rich, the second executive to head this highly classified aerospace division, now recounts tales of his predecessor, Kelly Johnson, including employees' eccentricities and the perils and pleasures of working for the U.S. military establishment. Even for those not fascinated with aerospace, the building of these planes is intriguing as he details the secret missions and machinations of the CIA, Operation Desert Storm, and the like. Written in a down-home style and interspersed with "other voices" ranging from test pilots to Carter's national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316743303
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/15/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.35 (d)

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