Heli-Expo ’13 attendees may wish to spend some time following the event to attend a lecture about a storied aircraft and the secret military installation that emerged to support its earliest operations.
U-2: From Area 51 to the 21st Century will be presented March 12 at the National Atomic Testing Museum (NATM) by AIN defense editor Chris Pocock, whose research into the Lockheed aircraft’s history has developed over the years into his personal passion.
“The site at Groom Lake was specifically chosen in August 1955 for flight testing the U-2, which at the time was being manufactured in Burbank, California,” Pocock said. “The parts were airlifted to what would become Area 51 and the planes were assembled there.”
The U-2s left the base in 1957, but Area 51 has since evolved into a significant testing ground for the most advanced U.S. military aircraft designs–as well as a source of international folklore and speculation about what else may be hidden in the hangars of the isolated base.
Pocock’s presentation will explore the early development of the U-2, as well as its continuing mission as the primary U.S. manned reconnaissance aircraft. “The U-2 has repeatedly been threatened with replacement, from the SR-71 Blackbird to today’s Global Hawk unmanned aircraft,” he added, “and yet it remains today. The Air Force would like to keep the planes flying for another 10 years. It must be doing something right.”
The 6:30 p.m. presentation will be preceded by a 30-minute meet and greet session. More information is available from the NATM at 702-794-5150.