Area 51: Origins
America’s once-secret air base had humble beginnings.
- By Peter Merlin
- AirSpaceMag.com, March 26, 2013
Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
Lockheed built a 1/8-scale model of the A-12 to test the aircraft’s radar cross-section. The model was mounted atop a 22-foot-long inflatable pylon positioned within line of sight of a radar facility half a mile away. Though the pylon was incapable of supporting the weight of a full-size model, the structure was nearly transparent to radar. Straight seams on the bag, however, generated measurable radar reflections. The A-12 scale model included structures to simulate afterburner exhaust plumes.