WristWatch Magazine - Page 92

AMERICAN BRAND BY GARY GIRDVAINIS Code Name OXCART; n g Call Si Dutch C utting an aggressive profile with swept wings and a vertically compressed body trailing behind, the needle nose of the world’s fastest jet reached speeds exceeding three times that of sound. What’s even more astounding than the futuristic fuselage and sky-blazing performance is the fact that these birds were actually fledged in the early 1960’s! As the precursor to the record breaking SR-71 Blackbird, the A-12 Oxcart was brought to life at the behest of the CIA as the spy plane that would replace the aging and somewhat vulnerable 1950’s era U2. Engineered by the Kelly Johnson led Skunkworks team, the goal for the A-12 Oxcart was to create a platform that could fly at least three times the speed of sound (about 2,300 MPH) with an operational ceiling of at least 90,000 feet. Mission accomplished 1962. Although these 60’s era speed-demons of the sky are all retired, the Roadrunners International web-site www.roadrunnersinternationale.com documents and memorializes the almost inconceiv- 90 WRISTWATCH | 2016 able achievements and the once top-secret details surrounding Area 51 and the men and equipment of the world’s most amazing aviation era. Along with the history of the aircraft you’ll also find the personal stories of the skilled test pilots; “drivers” as they were called, recruited by the CIA to push these titanium-skinned raptors to speeds literally faster than a speeding bullet. Like the planes they once flew, the five surviving drivers carrying the call sign “Dutch”(along with their own two-digit #), as well as the entire program that brought the Oxcart into existence, are now being commemorated in a timepiece by a small American-based watch brand. After the recent launch and presentation in Las Vegas, Roadrunner Association president T.D. Barnes expressed his appreciation of the project: “I can envision your unique watch becoming symbolic of high-flying aviation and aerospace as Bulova did in the 1960s. The dinner was delightful and so meaningful to your guests. Dr. Griffin, Buz Carpenter, and Tony Bevacqua were blown away