Five INFORMATIVE Stars. In this unclassified CIA-produced document, based on declassified information, the existence of the CIA's supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft called "Archangel" is revealed. A number of other revelations are also brought to light, such as: the Russians were already aware of the U2 program before the first flight was attempted (and in a later flight, the program essentially ended with Gary Francis Powers being shot down over Russia and captured, causing an international incident).
The book details the need for a U2 replacement, the heady competition between Convair and Lockheed to get the multi-million dollar contract to build the A-12s, the difficulties of working on this highly secret project in California, the relocation to Groom Lake, the thousands of workers employed, the new techniques and materiel required to build the planes, the highly-competitive selection of the pilots, and generally, the missions. While the U2 was a supersonic glider, ArchAngel was at Mach 3+, faster than a speeding bullet, flew miles higher than U2, consumed thousands of gallons of fuel per hour on each flight and had a greatly reduced radar cross section. Not everyone survived the testing and the actual mission flights and this book generally details the relatively short lifespan of the program before the SR-71 took over. Along the way we find chief engineer Kelly Johnson, "the Skunk Works, "sheep dipped" pilots, the Pueblo incident, the A-12 and Blackbird one-time high-stakes aerial competition, and four pilots who did not survive the program and whose families did not know of their real missions and cause of death until program closure: RIP: Walter L. Ray, Jack W. Weeks, and 2 still unidentified chase plane pilots. General, but somewhat technical, this short, thorough book gets my Highest Recommendation! Five OXCART Stars. (This is a Kindle book @ 1040 KB with extensive footnotes and bibliography, reviewed in text and text-to-speech.)