The SR-71 Blackbird's Predecessor First Flew 53 Years Ago Today

The first clip in this amazing video, shot 53 years ago, shows us the very first time the legendary A-12 Oxcart, the predecessor to the famous SR-71 Blackbird, first took to the air from its Groom Lake test base.

The A-12’s first flight was a squirrely and short one. Just look at the wild rudder deflections and oscillations as it roars down the runway! The next flight, just two days later, was executed with all three axis dampening systems turned on, which made the aircraft a joy to fly.


This historic video, narrated by Lockheed test pilot Lou Schalk, has to be one of my all time favorites. Not only is it shot at Area 51, but the identification of all the characters involved and incredible imagery of the titanium A-12, which still looks exotic by today’s standards, cannot be beat.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address


Wow! That was great. Thanks for posting that.

I think Skunk Works should be mandatory reading in high school here in the U.S. Too bad our education system is stunted with such a liberal perspective that something like this would never fit the mold.