Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Chapter Four: Arriving at Area-51
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My aerospace career took off -- pardon the pun -- like a rocket, once my thesis advisor contacted the chief scientist at Lockheed Martin and shared my thesis results on the problem of gravitational lensing. This was a phenomenon in which light from a celestial source, such as a star or galaxy, was deflected by a massive object (or objects) between the light source and the observer, and it turned out that Lockheed Martin had been struggling with the problem because of its Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) project. ISIS was a disruptive Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance extremely large aperture radar capability integrated in a fully autonomous stratospheric unmanned airship. Sounds complicated, I know, but just think of it as a really big blimp. This thing was supposed to hang up in the stratosphere practically forever, and spy on everything. My results and some work I did subsequent to my hiring by Lockheed Martin helped get the ISIS program off the ground (whoops, another unintentional pun).

I soon became a superstar at Lockheed Martin and the next thing I knew I was assigned to Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Program, otherwise known as the “Skunkworks.” This super-secret research and development (R&D) operation was where many of America’s most advanced aerospace vehicles were developed, including the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird. I was being assigned to the F-35 Lightening II, Joint Strike Fighter program to help solve some issues with hypersonic flight and distortion of the upper wing skin, which was made from newly developed composites. At least that’s what I thought I’d be doing. I didn’t learn of my true project assignment until the VLJ on which I was flying crested Tikaboo Peak and set smoothly down on a small landing strip on the southern shore of Groom Lake at Area-51.

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