The Slow Demise of the CIA’s A-12

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The companion blog to this episode is over at Medium:

I forgot to add the card of conversions at about the 2:30 mark, and I don’t want to spend hours exporting another version, so here’s that paragraph with other measurements!

“The U-2 was 63 feet long (19.20 meters) with a wingspan of 103 feet (31.3944 meters), had an operational altitude of 70,000 feet (21,336 meters) with a 2,000-mile range (3,218.68 kilometers), and a top speed around Mach 0.8. The A-12, by design, had an altitude of about 90,000 feet (27,432 meters), a top speed of Mach 3.2, and a range of 4,120 miles total (6,630.49 kilometers) or 3,800nm range at altitude (4372.96 miles or 7,037.6 kilometers). It was, in short, a significant improvement.”

Part 5:

Wardrobe: Vixen by Micheline Pitt. Not sponsored or anything, I just love her and her company values and want to shout out an incredible brand!

  1. HomersIlliad

    “On time, and on budget.”
    That’s something I’ve never heard of in government acquisitions.

  2. Luka David Torkar

    I’ve been watching your videos for years now and I’m still surprised that a girl would be as interested in space age technology as I am. I really hope I meet someone like you.
    Anyway great video as always!

  3. Ian Mansfield

    Great hair Amy! This whole series has been great to watch, very detailed, well researched and presented. I’m appreciating the higher definition camera work too – it makes it feel like I’m watching you live, which makes it all the more engaging. Great job!
    Looking at the figures here, it’s not really that surprising that they cancelled the A12 in favour of the SR71 – $2.1bn was nearly a 10th of the cost of the Apollo program up to the end of the 60s.
    My feeling is that ‘they’ – McNamara and Johnson – thought the A12 had paved the way – in research terms – for the SR71, but also in your brief here I got the feeling that there was some political infighting between the intelligence agencies and the military. It’s an interesting story and I wonder how much McNamara, whom I’ve always found an interesting figure in political history, actually resented the CIA’s encroachment into surveillance overflight programs.

  4. Jim Schoenwetter

    Thanks! I thought I had done a deep dive on Oxcart but you still uncovered some nuggets.

  5. Akshay Anand

    There’s a few audio bugs that bothered me, but overall another fine episode.

  6. Bluetop Guitar

    Great video. It shows the lengths our country went to in the cold war. I’ve seen the SR71 at the air and space museum in Dulles. I went to a lecture on the sr71 at college park air port in Maryland. There was a question and answer session with the pilot and backseater. “How fast can you go?”. The pilot said they could go fast enough to melt the airplane.

  7. Glen Clark


  8. John Knapp

    We have an A-12 in front of the San Diego Air and Space Museum which I’m sure most people mistake for a SR-71.

  9. Mijc Osis

    Awesome video, one small bit of feedback, where you positioned the airflow arrows on the J58 was invariably where the shaft of the turbine is, the air flows round the small gaps at the sides.

  10. Unnamed RedShirt

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I wanted to share my personal theory…

    She doesn’t actually use the KSP music as her background. She’s just always playing and forgot to mute her computer while filming. I can’t say I blame her.

  11. Justin Coyne

    Script, sound, delivery are all top-notch. If you had a little bit better lighting, (hard shadows on your right side), it would be perfect.

  12. Den Van

    I’m interested in cold war aerial espionage, U2?

  13. Explore Southwest

    I love the Canadian “Reconnaissance” 😀

  14. Rob Mrowiec

    I’d be interested to see what you can dig up on Blue Gemini.

  15. Aaron Johnson

    SR-71 is my favorite aircraft. Love hearing about it.

  16. Karen Parker

    Another video about the D-21 would be interesting. The information is out there but it would be nice to pull it all together. The need, the technology, particularly the engine and camera/data retrieval, development difficulties during flight test, culminating in the loss of one aircraft and one crewman, the transition to B-52 launch, four attempts at an operational mission over China, and finally a piece of one of those four drones being delivered to Ben Rich at Lockheed by a representative of the KGB!

  17. William R Warren Jr

    The U-2 was an F104 with wings instead of razorblades. Long Live Kelly!!!

    When I worked at Uncle Boeing, one of my mentors was artist Michael Cased, who told me he was asked where he’d like to be in five years in his hiring interview. His answer: “I want to work for Kelly Johnston!” (a competitor’s brilliant designer, but not a Boeing answer.) They hired him anyway … me some, too … And I met and learned from guys that were teammates with Ralph “little old lady” McQuarrie, whose beautiful gouache sketches sold “Star Wars” to the world!

  18. Doug Carroll

    Awesome work! You covered one of the most beautiful planes ever made in style! Wish schools could teach subjects half as good as you do. Love the hair.

  19. MidwestNerd

    Always the best content! I learned so much from this one as well as the rest of the series

  20. Christopher Young

    Hi Amy I’ve been subscribed to your channel for idk 6 or 7 years and have watched most of your videos, but the ones you’ve put out in the past year have been on an entirely new level. Keep up the amazing work and thank you for everything

  21. Don Mears

    Hearing mention of the Cuban Missile Crisis reminds me of Drop Drills done by diving under your desk at school and squatting with your arms around your head. Oh the “Wonderful” memories of the Cold War.

  22. Michael Thompson

    Awesome I was ready for another video!
    Much all the best!

  23. Tomas Aquino

    When will we go back to the moon amy?

  24. wrightmf

    Amusing to see the NACA markings on the U2. At least Hugh Dryden never got cornered into having to explain what these are.

  25. michaelfink64

    Great series, Amy. Love this stuff.

  26. Graham Rankin

    Here in McMinnville Oregon the Air & Space museum has an SR71 on display. A docent there told us about the time a former Soviet air force pilot visited. He walked up to the plane, grabbed the wing and said, “Finally caught you”.

  27. James King

    Have you visited the US Air Force museum in Dayton Ohio?

  28. Chris K

    No spiderweb top huh :( interesting video

  29. Phelonius Friar

    An excellent series!

  30. Stephen Michalski

    Why the hell didn’t I get a notification for this? One of my favorite channels.

  31. Sloane Mac Tíre

    Great series! I learned so much through it all. Awesome job!
    Also, the tied-up scarf with the bun looks really nice. Though really, you always are on point with your ensembles.

  32. Jure Šimić

    Fantastic as always

  33. Find your Purpose. Find Y

    A-12 was such a leap in tech and its evolution into the Blackbird cemented it in aviation history. One wonders what black box projects might be going on now. I first studied the history of the A-12 years ago in Ben Rich’s book Skunk Works. More recently, Annie Jacobsen’s Area 51 was an excellent history.

  34. Paul imWald

    I think there is an echo or non synconised audio starting at 2:00 seems to be the case when you are on screen. Havent watched it all yet.

  35. gmaglio

    This series is great! Please do a piece on MOL

  36. steven brown

    Excellent video. Very informative. Thank you for posting.

  37. Herbert Miller

    Thank you for such a wonderful series shedding light on the often overlooked Corona and 12 Oxcart programs. Can’t wait for your Ceres on the X planes this will be epic

  38. James Simon

    Amy, I made a point to show you and your talents to my daughter. Thank you for the example.

  39. kiwidiesel

    Yay I’ve been hanging out for part two, thanks Amy🥰 The oxcart program gave Us the godfather of air breathing awesomeness.

  40. Bartonovich52

    My knowledge of the A-12 probably tripled with this series. Thank you.

  41. Dan Thomas-Commins

    Great video, Amy! Thanks for explaining the connection between the A-12 and the SR-71. Also, good day and WeirdChamp to all the rando dudes who only ever comment on her appearance. 😑

  42. Raygun Strange

    Thanks for another brilliant one Amy.

  43. Chasing Different Adventu

    Thanks Amy for your extensive research., the part about spying over China 🇨🇳 during Cold War with Russia 🇷🇺
    I didn’t know that history occurred. Thanks the greatest presentation of Lockheed Martin Legacy program.
    🙋👍 ✈

  44. Andrew Fischer

    havent been in ages if memory serves there is an a 12 on the uss intrepid museum

  45. Corey S

    Just noticed the autographed print by Alan Bean in the background. Very nice.

  46. Vincit Veritas

    Hi Amy. Great video as always. Thank you 👍

  47. Harold Cline

    Thanks for this series Amy.

  48. msmrx57

    Love the new intro.

  49. Gordon Mier

    I think I’m in love 😍

  50. VTwin Builder

    I can’t wait to watch this video! So excited when I see you’ve posted!

    You look great Amy, your outfit is very vintage and you look like you could’ve been a daughter or wife of a Gemini or Apollo astronaut! You wear it well!

  51. Mike Parker

    that was a great series. Please keep up the good work Amy! 🚀

  52. estudiom142

    Love it SR-71 ! Love your videos! Love you! Cheers from Argentina!

  53. zoperxplex

    Amy, perhaps you should cover the Soviet spy satellite program.

  54. Matthew Litke

    Great series. Thank You!

  55. Jacob Harper

    Your beautiful both in looks and and in your intelligence.
    Wish I would be blessed enough to have a woman such as yourself.
    I’m in graduate school for biochemistry and biotechnology history. If I sound like a suitable bachelor lmk I’ll give you my information.

    Super long shot Ik… thanks for the wonderful video and I hope you have a blessed day!

  56. jsfbr

    As a side note, I realized that designating the Oxcart’s successor as SR-71 instead of RS-71 prevented a lifetime of undesirable puns. Q: “What airplane do you fly?” A: “I fly RS’s”. Maybe LBJ’s release wasn’t changed on purpose.

  57. Michael Sänger

    really love how much effort you put in the whole 1960s thing.

  58. James Frangione

    Top notch, Amy! Really enjoyed this series. Well done!

  59. ragaloft

    Amy, thank you so much!
    It is a joy to watch the product of thorough research, quality production and beautifully delivered interesting content.

  60. mkendallpk

    Again Amy gives us the whole picture and in detail. Well done and this is why I subscribed a while back.

  61. cordial001

    Awesome series. Thank you for making it.

  62. chifurbr

    so MOL next? can’t wait

  63. Mike Minter

    I’m disappointed by not seeing you continue the story with the SR-71 for another 27-ish years, but I understand that would be getting out of your vintage space. Another superb video, that demonstrates the difference between some of the tech channels who touch the surface of some of these stories and a professional historian who wants to show us more of the story. I enjoy some of those other videos too, with both information and entertainment, but these videos provide so much more context. Thank you.

  64. Chris Drzal

    There will never be a better bird

  65. Dave Ash

    Fab video, but I could have sworn I watched this video, or one very very like it only a few days ago. Is this a reupload, or have I developed time travel capabilities :-o?

  66. Steve Jeffery

    You could have done a follow up for April 1st about the use of the SR-71 by a certain band of eXtraordinary individuals operating out of Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Maybe next year eh? ;)

  67. wilgarcia1

    Such an iconic aircraft =)

  68. Lee Hasenour

    Love the look!!! Mid century looks great on you!!!😍

  69. Rainy Day

    Very interesting video! Thanks Amy.

  70. Anonymous Freak

    4:40 – John McCone is just an alias Allan Dulles used after shaving off his mustache, isn’t it?

  71. kranzonguam

    As always, outstanding work Amy!

  72. Rob Babcock


  73. Brian B


  74. CarportCarl

    I get the vibe she wishes she could have lived during that time line (1960’s).

  75. David S

    Your brain is smokin’ hot.
    I could tell you a little story about an SR-71, but I would go to jail. Great story though.
    Thanks for these.

  76. Darrin Green

    You changed your hair color.

  77. sidewalkere

    *checks if KSP wasn’t left running on background*

  78. Jeremy Jarmon

    Always great videos and content. Very informative. Thank you for all you do

  79. john doe

    How can one Woman in her apartment put comercial documentarians to shame. Amazing work Amy.

  80. Johnny Wednesday

    I guess it moved both quickly and slowly at the same time.

  81. sundhaug92

    Tip: 9:13: Use magic wand in an image-editing program to avoid the compression-artifacts

  82. Dzaks

    Great work. But there is enough declassified material to make a KH-9 Hexagon video to end the series. Since newer than that is still ultrablack.

  83. Tyfunk 02

    The whole story of the U2 all the way through the SR-71 is crazy. The manufacturing with titanium is especially wild to me as a machinist. Titanium is still difficult to deal with, and we’ve got a lot more advanced tooling and equipment than they had 70 years ago. And then you have the importation of titanium from the soviets to manufacture the planes that would be used to spy on them. 😂

    Also, I love your hair and the scarf is super cute.

  84. FSXTout

    Did you speed up the audio and video by a bit?

  85. TheCcponyboy

    Cool video. How about the FISH and KINGFISH from Convair…

  86. Clyde Cessna

    I would be very interested in RB-45 missions.

  87. Niel Malan

    Oh, period hairstyle!

  88. Mark Sainsbury

    Is “Fighting for space” on Audible yet, and if so, when will it be available on the New Zealand store/library? Loved “Breaking the Chains…” and every time you post a new video I look on Audible for “Fighting…” with no joy.

  89. Paul Lebel

    The cool history channel 😎

  90. FandersonUfo

    perfect redefinition of the channel that does not require a name change even – elegant engineering Madame – 🛸👽

  91. Hicham Mohsen

    Amy Amy Amy! Those videos have been dropping like WWII bombs we love it! Thank you for all the amazing work.

  92. Leady H. Poizon

    You bring the best History. Thank You

  93. · doubleplusgood · ʞɐǝdsʞ

    Pete has evaded radar detection.

  94. Alister McPherson

    Amazing – this genre is such a rich source of content – I really hope you continue to cover any espionage/experimental aircraft that came out of Edwards in the 60s and 70s.

  95. Rexxidy

    Ksp VAB soundtrack plays:
    *everyone liked that*

  96. Mike Brown

    Amy, great as Always!!! 😍😍😍😍☺️😉

  97. Mario Zuniga

    Your videos are all ways great thank you

  98. Hojo J.

    PS love the headband!

  99. Highly Polished Turd

    Great series. Cold War stuff is pure catnip to me.

  100. Hojo J.

    Excellent as always. Please keep up the good work.

Comments are closed.