The Projects of Skunk Works: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs
The Projects of Skunk Works: 75 Years of Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs, Steve Pace, ISBN 9780760350324, 256 pp.
The Projects of Skunk Works may be Steve Pace’s best work with its loving attention to Lockheed’s history of aviation innovation and the alteration of history’s arc by these machines as well as those who crewed them. Sadly it may be his last work as he unexpectedly passed away this year.
What a work it is!
Steve Pace more than collected facts and data—he talked with people to get insights and the context of the times which he relates as wonderfully as anyone’s uncle. What people were thinking, fearing, or why they were exploring—all there for many pleasant reader experiences. There are the major projects like F-104, U-2 and SR-71 of course. Superbly, there are also the lesser known ones like the RB-69A and Project Wild Cherry in which so many reconnaissance crew perished during the 1950s. Wild Cherry is hardly mentioned in the history texts and won’t have its records declassified until after the year 2020—but Pace writes about it so we will know of it as well as the silent sacrifices of so many people.
Pace also writes of aircraft designs which did not leave the drafting tables but inspired nonetheless. Wonderful and inventive shapes with novel engine placements shown with stunning original artwork.
It would be hard to believe Pace missed a design or pertinent fact—even harder to believe he hasn’t perfectly described the historical impact of each design. This book is a testament to Lockheed’s place in aviation history as much as it is to an excellent author’s love for this work. The index, bibliography, art, photos and insets make this book a remarkable title for any library. It is a book for lighting fires of creation as much as for those who love aviation as well as its history.