ABOVE: The Handley Page room at the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Mayfair headquarters

The next Royal Aeronautical Society Aeronautical Heritage Group talk – entitled ‘Black Shield: Mach 3+ reconnaissance before the SR-71’ – will be presented at the Society’s headquarters on 9 November 2023, and is free to attend.

The Mach 3+ capable Lockheed A-12 platform was developed by Lockheed’s Skunk Works under Project Oxcart. A total of 15 airframes were produced from 1962-1964 and the A-12 flew missions from 1967-1968 before the twin-seater SR-71 took over in the high-altitude reconnaissance role.

During the evening event, author and speaker Paul Crickmore will explore the history of the Lockheed CIA A-12 Oxcart programme, the predecessor to the famous SAC SR-71 Blackbird. Using newly declassified documents, Crickmore’s presentation will recount ‘specific Black Shield missions over North Vietnam, the military and political benefits of each sortie, operational security and its exploitation by China, and the lessons learned that would affect subsequent SR-71 operations’.

The RAeS’ Aeronautical Heritage Group, which ‘exists to provide a focus… for the study and discussion of aerospace history’ holds a series of events at the Society’s headquarters in No.4 Hamilton Place, Mayfair, every year. Registration will open at 17:30 and the lecture will run from 18:00-19:00, after which Crickmore will be available to sign copies of his new history of the SR-71 program.