Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cold case: Oxcart and UFO

Hi all

Like Pauline, I have been reading a copy of the new book "Area 51" by Annie Jacobsen. There are many interesting stories in this book, but one in particular caught my eye (page 205.)

In April 1962 the NASA X-15 rocket plane was being flown between California and Nevada, by test pilot Joe Walker. Walker took photographs, and NASA released these. "But NASA had not scrutinised the photos closely before their public release, and officials missed the fact that a tiny "UFO" appeared in the corner of one of Walker's pictures. In reality, it was an Oxcart, but the press identified it as a UFO." (Click here.)

The Oxcart's full name was the Archangel-12 Oxcart, the CIA's Mach 3, black program, spy plane built by Lockheed. (Click here for more.)

Jacobsen continues, "Two weeks after the incident, the CIA's new director, John McCone, received a secret, priority Teletype on the matter stating that "on 30 April, A-12 was in air at altitude of 30,000 feet from 0948-106 local with concurrent X-15 tests." and that "publicity releases mention unidentified objects in film taken on an X-15 flight." This message, which was not declassified until 2007...In total 2,850 Oxcart flights would be flown out of Area 51 over a period of six years. Exactly how many of these flights generated UFO reports is not known."

My comments:

1. The USAF had three versions of the Oxcart; the YF-12A the attack version; one which carried a drone on its back; and the RS-71 Blackbird (later renamed the SR-71 Blackbird.) Did the A-12 or SR-71 ever visit Australia? I searched the net but couldn't find any references to it visiting Australia. However, one of my neighbours (now deceased), who at the time was based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, South Australia, once saw an SR-71 on the ground at that base.

2. I found that the CIA teletype which Jacobsen mentions, is available on the net on the CIA's webpage, click here, to read it for yourself.

It does raise a question in my mind, as to whether any Australian UFO reports were due to SR-71 aircraft? Do any readers have information about the plane in Australia?


  1. Keith, it's an interesting pursuit, but chances are there's much still classified about deployments.

    The U2 flew out of RAAF Laverton and Avalon from 11/60 to 7/66 and might have generated some UFO reports in the period. The flights were mostly high-altitude sampling for nuclear fallout through testing.

    Around the same time, the SR-71 was deployed from Okinawa, but I haven't found any specific dates to correlate to Japanese UFO reports. We both know there were quite a lot of reports from there in the late 50s and early 60s so who knows?

    You might find this clipping interesting (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-s3dFgZ-KYWQ/Taqp9giD8DI/AAAAAAAAIZI/J1a21PAAzE4/s1600/Empire%2BNews%2B7.4.57.jpg). It's from Jon Downes'new'Haunted Skies' blog. He's slowly building a great collection of UK UFO news reports from the 40s onwards.

    In the early Flying Saucer Reviews are numerous references to silvery triangles and fast aircraft; I've wondered the same thing as you about them. Could they (some at least) have been aerial reconnaissance craft?

    (link to the SR-71 and U2 deployments: http://www.ais.org/~schnars/aero/ol-det.htm )

  2. Apologies. Haunted Skies is run by John Hanson and Dawn Holloway.


  3. Hi Kandinsky

    Thanks for the response. I have written about my research into Operation Crowflight, the deployment of U-2 and RB-57 aircraft to Australia in the 1960's at

    Thanks for the links which I will go take a look at.

    I had a quick chat with a friend of mine who is into aviation and aviation history and his initial response was that he was not aware of any deployment of A-12 or SR-71 aircraft to Australia. However, he is doing to conduct some further research.



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