Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben R. Rich
Skunk Works is a fascinating book that tells the story of one of the most secretive and innovative aerospace operations in history. Ben R. Rich, who led the Skunk Works from 1975 to 1991, recounts his personal experiences and achievements in developing some of the most advanced and revolutionary aircraft ever flown, such as the U-2 spy plane, the SR-71 Blackbird, the F-117 Stealth fighter, and the F-22 Raptor.
The book reveals how the Skunk Works operated under extreme secrecy and pressure, often defying conventional wisdom and bureaucracy, to deliver cutting-edge technology and performance to the US military and intelligence agencies. Rich also shares his insights into the personalities and talents of the maverick engineers and pilots who made the Skunk Works so successful, including his mentor and predecessor, Kelly Johnson, the legendary founder of the Skunk Works.
Skunk Works is not only a thrilling account of Cold War espionage and air combat, but also a tribute to the spirit of innovation and excellence that characterized the Skunk Works team. It is a must-read for anyone interested in aviation history, engineering, or leadership.
The book also reveals some of the challenges and failures that the Skunk Works faced, such as the cancellation of the F-12 interceptor, the loss of the U-2 over the Soviet Union, the near-disaster of the D-21 drone, and the controversy over the stealth bomber. Rich also discusses some of the future projects that he envisioned, such as hypersonic aircraft, space planes, and energy weapons.
Skunk Works is a personal memoir that offers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the most secretive and successful organizations in history. It is a captivating and inspiring story of how a small group of dedicated and visionary individuals changed the course of aviation and warfare.
The book is divided into 12 chapters, each focusing on a different project or aspect of the Skunk Works. The first chapter introduces the origin and meaning of the name Skunk Works, which was derived from a comic strip called Li'l Abner. The second chapter describes how Rich joined Lockheed in 1954 and worked on the propulsion system of the U-2, the high-altitude spy plane that was designed to fly over the Soviet Union undetected. The third chapter recounts the development and deployment of the A-12, a faster and more stealthy version of the U-2, which was later modified into the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest and highest-flying manned aircraft ever built.
The fourth chapter covers the creation and testing of the D-21, a supersonic unmanned drone that was launched from the back of an A-12. The fifth chapter details the design and production of the F-12, an interceptor version of the A-12 that was intended to replace the F-106 Delta Dart. The sixth chapter explains how Rich became the director of the Skunk Works in 1975, after Kelly Johnson retired. The seventh chapter reveals how Rich and his team developed the F-117 Nighthawk, the first operational stealth fighter that was used in combat during the Panama invasion and the Gulf War.
The eighth chapter discusses some of the other projects that the Skunk Works worked on or proposed, such as a stealth helicopter, a stealth cruise missile, a stealth transport plane, and a stealth bomber. The ninth chapter describes how Rich and his team collaborated with other companies and agencies, such as Boeing, NASA, DARPA, and CIA. The tenth chapter reflects on some of the lessons and principles that Rich learned from his experience at the Skunk Works, such as keeping things simple, trusting your intuition, and being flexible. The eleventh chapter explores some of the future challenges and opportunities for aerospace technology, such as hypersonic flight, space travel, and energy weapons. The twelfth chapter concludes with Rich's personal thoughts on his career and legacy. a474f39169