Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed - A Book Review
If you are interested in the history of aviation, military technology, or secret projects, you might want to read Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed by Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos. This book is a fascinating account of the development of some of the most advanced and secretive aircraft in the world, such as the U-2 spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Stealth fighter, and more.
Skunk Works is the nickname of Lockheed's Advanced Development Projects (ADP), a division that was responsible for designing and building cutting-edge aircraft for the US government and its allies. The name comes from a comic strip called Li'l Abner, where Skonk Works was a place where a foul-smelling brew was made from dead animals and old shoes. The Lockheed engineers adopted the name as a joke, but it also reflected their unconventional and secretive work culture.
The book is written by Ben R. Rich, who was the head of Skunk Works from 1975 to 1991, after succeeding the legendary Kelly Johnson, who founded the division in 1943. Rich tells the story of his career at Lockheed, from his early days as an engineer working on the F-104 Starfighter, to his leadership role in developing some of the most revolutionary aircraft in history. He also shares his personal anecdotes and insights into the challenges, successes, and failures of Skunk Works projects, as well as the personalities and politics involved.
The book is co-authored by Leo Janos, a journalist who interviewed Rich and other Skunk Works personnel for this project. Janos also provides additional information and context for the historical events and technical aspects of the book. The book is written in a conversational and engaging style, with a mix of technical details, humor, drama, and suspense. The book also includes several photos and diagrams of the aircraft and their features.
Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed is a captivating and informative book that reveals the behind-the-scenes stories of some of the most amazing machines ever built. It is also a tribute to the vision, creativity, and courage of the people who worked at Skunk Works and made aviation history. Whether you are a fan of aviation, engineering, or espionage, you will find this book hard to put down.Some of the highlights of the book include:
The development of the U-2 spy plane, which was designed to fly at high altitudes and take photographs of Soviet territory during the Cold War. The U-2 was so secret that even President Eisenhower was not fully informed of its existence until it was shot down by a Soviet missile in 1960.
The creation of the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft ever built. The Blackbird could fly at over three times the speed of sound and reach altitudes of over 80,000 feet. It was used for reconnaissance missions over hostile areas such as Vietnam, China, and the Middle East.
The invention of the F-117 Stealth fighter, the first aircraft that could evade radar detection and deliver precision strikes. The Stealth fighter was a radical departure from conventional aircraft design, with a faceted shape and a special coating that absorbed radar waves. It was used to great effect in the 1991 Gulf War, where it destroyed key targets in Iraq with minimal losses.
The book also reveals some of the challenges and setbacks that Skunk Works faced, such as budget cuts, bureaucratic interference, technical problems, espionage attempts, and accidents. Rich also describes some of the unconventional and innovative solutions that Skunk Works came up with, such as using titanium from the Soviet Union, borrowing engines from NASA, and testing models in a secret lake.
Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed is not only a fascinating account of technological breakthroughs and daring missions, but also a testament to the power of teamwork, creativity, and passion. It shows how a small group of dedicated and talented people can achieve remarkable results under difficult circumstances. It is a book that will inspire and entertain anyone who loves aviation, engineering, or history. aa16f39245