Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Oxcart Legacy: Day 6

Today the Oxcart Legacy tour went up the Hill...Capitol Hill. The group consisted of Ken and Sandra Collins, TD Barnes, Dennis Nordquist, Roger Anderson, Linda Cady, Bob and Mary Jane Murphy, Peter DeForth, Connie Pardew, Annie Jacobsen, Dr. David  Robarge and his wife Cheryl.  The group was led to the Capitol Hill Club right down the street from the Capitol Dome.
It was a VIP tour from beginning to end as these aviation pioneers were personally escorted by former Congressman Jim Longley who is now Executive Director of the Advanced Technical Intelligence Association (ATIA).

They watched opening session of Congress, were taken to a number of points of interest that the Capitol has including the old Senate room, the gallery and the rotunda. It was followed by a luncheon hosted by the ATIA at the Capitol Hill Club for Oxcart members and interested congressional members and staff.
 Plaques of appreciation presented by Advanced Technical Association during presentations and ceremony at Capitol Hill Club to Roadrunner President and Director of Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame Thornton D. "TD" Barnes, Peter Deforth,  Chief Historian at the Central Intelligence Agency Dr. Robert Robarge by  former congressman and ATIA Executive Director Jim Longley on the left, and ATIA Secretary/Treasurer Barbara Sanderson  on the right. Joining them on the right is Roger Andersen, 1129th SAS Operations Officer during Project Oxcart at Groom Lake and Operation Black Shield at Kadena.
"Thank you for what you have done for our country," said Barbara Sanderson, secretary/treasurer of ATIA. 'Your innovations in aerospace, technology and flight have set the standard-we can't loose your history."

Dr. David Robarge, Chief Historian for the Central Intelligence Agency introduced Oxcart members and each gave a brief  talk about their experiences with the still ahead of it's time program. Robarge who wrote the Oxcart History for the CIA said it was an honor to be part of this tour and presentations around the Washington DC area. "I have learned so much more from our A-12 veterans," he said

Bob Murphy, who was the Industrial Manager at Lockheed Skunkworks spoke about the cohesiveness and 'hands-on aspect of working for aerospace genius Kelly Johnson. "It was a privilege to work for Kelly and on the Oxcart program," he said. "And it was a very patriotic group."

Dennis Nordquist who helped design the J-58 engines for the A-12 started in his early 20's with Pratt and Whitney. "My time on the Oxcart program and the J-58's helped me to be success later in my career," he said. "They had a 'can-do' attitude."

Col. Ken Collins (Ret) was one of the six mission pilots for the A-12 and said it was a great experience working so closely with the engineers and other personnel on the program. Collins flew six missions in the A-12 over Vietnam.

The United States Air Air Force played a key role in supporting the Oxcart program while they tested at the Nevada desert and set up operations for the A-12's Blackshield missions at Kadena AFB in Okinawa.

USAF's Roger Anderson was there today to talk about his role as Operations Officer"It was a great program," he said. "I was so glad to be a part of it."

TD Barnes president of Roadrunners Internationale and Director of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame (NVAHOF) explained his duties as hypersonic flight support specialist and foreign radar and aircraft expert. for the A-12 program.  Barnes who along with Robarge and tour coordinator Peter DeForth were given special recognition plaques from the ATIA. Barnes also spoke about the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame and the mission to continue the state's rich aviation legacy.

Later some members of the group met with Nevada Senator John Ensign where they discussed the goals of the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame.

Nevada Congresswoman, Shelly Berkley expressed a desire to meet with the NVAHOF team, but encountered scheduling conflicts.

"Our aviation legacy is important to the country," said Barnes. "People need to be educated on the rich history we have and the technologies that have fostered what we have today."

Submitted by Connie Pardew
Photos by Mike Schmitz

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