The Neglect of A-12 #122

Experimental aircraft including -but not limited to- X-planes, from the Bell X-1 to the Su-47
  • Author
  • Message
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post28 Mar 2005, 10:13

Sadly, I must report that one of the coolest spy planes of all time has fallen into disrepair while on display at the USS Intrepid museum. This is probably the most fragile of all the blackbirds due to its largely composite construction. They've used latex house paint on it and left the inflight refueling door open as well as the fuel dump, allowing water to get inside the airplane. The outer skin of the plane is also the outer skin of the fuel tanks. I understand the desire to display a Blackbird at this or any air museum, but it should also be properly taken care of.

Take a look at this page and the photos on it. CBS News and some other media outlets are going to make this more public soon, but every call and letter counts! Just think of how you'd feel if this happened to the first Viper prototype :cry: .

http://area51specialprojects.com/articl ... e_122.html

Image

I wonder what happened to the original pitot?
Image

Image

Degradation of the panels - these have asbestos in them!
Image

The struts are pumped up beyond safety so that the aircraft can be seen from the street and the chains put a lot of stress on the airframe.
Image

A worker is sanding on the composite vertical stabilizer, which contains asbestos.
Image
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline

TC

F-16.net Moderator

F-16.net Moderator

  • Posts: 3998
  • Joined: 14 Jan 2004, 07:06

Unread post29 Mar 2005, 07:10

I quote Tony Soprano: "Well that makes me sad, and it will be dealt with in time".

Whoever let the plane get into such pi$$ poor shape, needs their knee caps broken! :twisted:

My rant is through.

Beers, MiGs, and @$$holes who don't take care of planes, were made to be pounded!
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post29 Mar 2005, 17:43

Thanks for the rant, TC :D ! I'll get the addresses posted soon so that everyone can write and make their feelings known.
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline

kmceject

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 345
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2003, 03:48

Unread post29 Mar 2005, 19:32

TC- I used to volunteer at the Intrepid (mostly on the armored vehicles) and when I did they were trying to take care of the Blackbird. Some of what that web site says is repeated misrepresentations of events, but much is probably true. I won't get into a rant about the leadership at the museum, but I will say that most of the people I worked with there and liked and respected are no longer there.

Not all the stabilizers are composite, and not all the composite contains asbestos. Also while I was there they had hired an aircraft mechanic who had replaced many of the panels with metal so seeing them with a sander at some place on the aircraft doesn't necessarily mean they are sanding composite. The damage in the photos is clear. I also know of a gash in the bottom of the wing from something that hit it while it was being moved. Did some aircraft engineer say that the chains put a lot of stress on the airframe? Keep in mind the main mounts are the 'hook' on a Blackbird. They were designed strong enough to catch a wire on landing. Also the chains (the last time I was there some years ago) are balanced fore/aft across the mounts cancelling out some of the stresses.

The missing pitot angers me, as does the damage to the edges of the airframe. I bet the pitot got snapped off by some idiot doing chin ups. They occasionally had the bird roped off with the nose sticking out and more than once I saw someone try that. I hated the way the main mounts were extended, and was told that was so people in front of the aircraft could look up along the top a bit. Who knows, because the people I was working with were not allowed to have input on the bird.

If you had asked me when I was a volunteer about the rumors I would have told you that is what they were, but now... I don't know any more. I would have fought to keep the aircraft there, but now I'd rather see it go somewhere safer. Too many 'events' like the idiot motorcycle jump occur there.

Very sad. One of the last things I did while I was still a volunteer was to sneak into <a href="http://www.ejectionsite.com/a12tour.htm">the cockpit</a>. It wasn't easy, and I won't tell the details of how to open it, but I will say it can't be done alone. I would have been officially allowed in, and had secured permission but the way things were going it was easier to sneak in (when the museum was closed) than it would have been waiting for the right time to do it with the aircraft mechanic there. Of course I did no harm, and corrected a few minor things that had been knocked around when the cockpit was open to the public. That was when the bird first arrived. I still feel privileged that I was able to sit in that seat and look thru the windscreen. Eerie feeling as the aircraft rocked a little in the cold wind...

Kevin
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post29 Mar 2005, 21:33

Kevin, thanks for your input on this subject. I mean no disrespect of any kind to the people who really care about this aircraft at the Intrepid (especially you), but I hate to see what has happened to it. The person who originally posted the information that I included with the pictures is TD Barnes. TD is the webmaster for the Road Runners Internationale and Area51specialprojects.com. He worked out at "The Ranch" back in the day and personally knows many of the pilots and engineers who worked on the jet. This particular A-12 is considered by many to be the most fragile because it has the most composite construction on the jet of any Blackbird built. The page about this particular A-12 is http://area51specialprojects.com/articl ... e_122.html . TD Barnes can be reached at tdbarnes@area51specialprojects.com. His email address is on his website, so I doubt he'd mind me posting it here. More information about this jet and the effort to save her can be found at http://www.savetheblackbird.com/.

I just hope we can save this jet!
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline

EriktheF16462

Forum Veteran

Forum Veteran

  • Posts: 540
  • Joined: 19 Mar 2004, 18:24

Unread post29 Mar 2005, 22:17

http://www.hill.af.mil/museum/photos/coldwar/sr-71.htm

I voluteered here while TDY many years ago. This is great example of how a A/C museum should be run. Very nice facilty and great displays. I think the National Air and Space may be the only one better. Militrary A/C of course.




Image
F16 462 AD USAF. Crew dog for 3 and Even a pointy head for a few months.
Offline

kmceject

Senior member

Senior member

  • Posts: 345
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2003, 03:48

Unread post30 Mar 2005, 02:40

Parrothead- I have not been involved with the museum for about 8 years or more now. I last visited about 2 years ago when a friend from Wales came to town. I was saddened by what I saw then, and more so by what I have heard since. The museum, like many others, is running on a cash deficit. I could tell you tales I heard there, but they would be hearsay. My personal tale, and one of the main reasons I stopped working there, is about the T-72M1 tank there. For about 3 years I was the only person to touch that vehicle. I personally fixed a dozen things on it, for example adding a plastic sheet over the shot out searchlight to make it look decent. (Took some form of HE round from behind that detonated above the turret and scoured off the top of the turret lightly with the splash blowing a hole in the light from behind and out the glass.) At my own expense I bought tools and parts, and even went on a trip to Fort Knox to do research on the paint job for the tank. Their vehicle had come in from the USMC via Camp Pendleton. While it was there someone had painted it a sickly shade of yellow trying to match the original Iraqi paint. I had located several of the covered markings on the tank by careful paint removal and was prepared to repaint the tank. We calculated the necessary amount of paint and I sent a request to the higher ups for about $40 dollars worth of paint. It was turned down. A few days later I got a call from my sponsor there who reported that they had spent $2000 to paint all the garbage cans and flower pots in the museum after refusing our $40 request!!!

Shortly thereafter my sponsor was let go, along with many other of the old guard people who had been there from the beginning.

Later on they tore out the sail locker (where parachutes and seats were worked on), and another of my friends there had made his workshop to repair and replicate materials for the exhibits. They installed an IMAX theater in that space. They also have installed a climbing wall there. I also know they were tearing out steel bulkheads to install sheetrock walls!?!?!? What kind of museum does that sort of thing???

I stopped considering volunteering there when I heard they were requiring a set amount of hours per week from the volunteers or they would revoke their credentials.

Not the way to induce loyalty...

Kevin
ps- Just before I stopped volunteering someone told me they wanted to paint the T. They did indeed shortly later painting it in Soviet colors because they wanted it to match the M-60 (slick) that they had as well on opposite sides of a fragment of the Berlin wall. Bugged the crap outta me that they took the artifact out of its historical context that way...
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post30 Mar 2005, 07:01

Kevin, thanks for the reply. I seriously considered volunteering on the USS Midway in San Diego, but I really didn't have any free time between work and school. I still have a membership that I plan to renew each year, even though I live in Las Vegas. They want to focus on the Navy and Naval Aviation and they're doing a really good job of restoring the ship and the aircraft that are being brought aboard.

From what you've told me and some of the other things I've read about the Intrepid, I doubt I'll ever visit it. I can understand a cash crunch, but there comes a time when a good caretaker looks at the benefit to preserving history and what decision and action best suits it. And $2,000 to PAINT TRASH CANS :x ??? I'm sorry to hear about the tank, I really dislike painting a vehicle differently than original just for the sake of making an exhibit look good. As for the modifications to the ship, well, I'll reserve my comments.

I also had to say a big thank you for posting the link to your A-12 cockpit page :D ! I've never seen pics like these and I really like the job you did taking them! The guys at work were almost as amazed and mesmerized by them as I was :) . Thanks for lightening my mood when I really needed it!

Erik, thanks for the post, the link, and the pic! It's nice to see a museum show off that jet like that. San Diego put theirs on a pole out in front of the museum in Balboa Park. It looks great up there, but I love the way it looks on its special landing gear with the canopy up! It's almost like it's saying "Alright, it's time to fly a mission! Come on and climb in so we can go get some pictures and dodge some SAMs!" Great looking display with the American Flag and the engine :D !
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline

habujeannie

Newbie

Newbie

  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 30 Mar 2005, 23:51

Unread post31 Mar 2005, 00:15

Hi guys,

I'm the author of A-12 Declassified (MBI books). The rudders on 122 are indeed composite. #122, #123, #125, #133 were in fact high temperture composite plastic rudders, #121, #124,#134, #135 were titanium alloy rudders.

The incident of the rudders being sanded in the photo was done by an "aircraft" mechanic" who was hired by Intrepid.I was the one who took the photo. The gentleman worked on commerical aircraft. He had no clue what he was working on as he had no information on the A-12 airframe. It wasn't until another A/P was hired along with his part time A/P's and volunteer help (me) that things really started to look up for the A-12 and all the other navy planes. However, the Intrepid then killed all of that when they decided to bring in a new "CEO" to run the museum. All of the people that knew anything were let go.I myself resigned. Since then, the aircraft, all of them have seen no restoration.

As to the saw-toothed V shaped panels that were replaced, I helped work on them. They had asbestos in them.The RTV and other sealants and special composite stuff that filled the space in between that absorbed radar energy were reverting,not to mention that rivets were popping out. These are some of the reasons that they were being replaced, under USAF Museum supervison ( the Nat'l USAF Museum Wright Patterson AFB is the owner of the A12 on Intrepid).

If you look at any A-12 or SR-71. you will note that the main gear is always low enough so that the wheel well doors are just about mid way covering the tires. I was told by "higher up's" at the Intrepid that the gear was pumped up so high so that people could see her from the street. i have been on the Intrepid deck during the foulest of NYC weather (i.e nor'easters, bad ice storms, and heavy wind) you need only to stay there for a while to see the strain being put on the airframe as the wind comes up from the stern and blows right up the A-12's butt. The aircraft literally rises off the deck a half inch or so and rocks back and forth. At the time, we knew how to tie down aircraft, since then no one seems to know how to do it safely.

Hope this helps and thank you so much (from the heart) for your interest in 122.

Jeannette
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post31 Mar 2005, 06:38

habujeannie, thanks for the reply and the information :) ! I'll have to go search out that book! I'm going to send you a PM, so check your inbox soon :wink: .
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline
User avatar

Lieven

F-16.net Webmaster

F-16.net Webmaster

  • Posts: 3664
  • Joined: 23 May 2003, 15:44

Unread post31 Mar 2005, 20:13

Habujeannie, weclome to the forum and thank you for your input.

Parrothead, the book can be obtained via Amazon: <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0760310009/threefournineA">A-12 Blackbird Declassified (Motorbooks ColorTech)</a>.
Lieven Dewitte
Webmaster F-16.net
Offline

parrothead

Elite 3K

Elite 3K

  • Posts: 3279
  • Joined: 10 May 2004, 23:04

Unread post01 Apr 2005, 03:27

Thanks for the link to that book Lieven :D !
No plane on Sunday, maybe be one come Monday...
www.parrotheadjeff.com
Offline

habujeannie

Newbie

Newbie

  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 30 Mar 2005, 23:51

Unread post01 Apr 2005, 17:44

Thanks for the welcome and the book post, Lieven. Much appreciated!

Jeannie

Return to X-planes

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests