The Blackbird Family

This list contains every A-12, YF12 and SR-71 Blackbird ever constructed. The list can be filtered by aircraft type or current location. Each listing has information and photos along with its current location and map.

A-12 #06928 / #125

A-12 #06928 / #125

Location: Lost on January 5, 1967 at Groom Lake, NV.
Categories: A-12, Lost

Flights: 202

Hours: 334.9 

 

This aircraft was lost on 5 January 1967 during a training sortie flown from Groom Lake, Area 51, Nevada.

Walter L. Ray, an employee of the CIA, joined Lockheed as a civilian pilot on November 07, 1962. During #928's final flight, Ray did not received a full fuel load from the tanker due to a second aircraft (chase plane) requiring fuel. He determined that he had sufficient fuel to return to Groom Lake. He could have diverted to Albuquerque, NM. He declared an emergency but the aircraft ran out of fuel only minutes before landing at Groom Lake.

The official accident report attributed the crash to a malfunctioning fuel quantity gauge. However, in his radio transmission prior to ejecting he stated "I have a loss of fuel and I do not know where it is going; I think I can make it (Groom Lake)". CIA pilot Walter L. Ray was forced to eject. Unfortunately the ejection seat separation sequence (which should have occurred at 16,000 feet) malfunctioned and Ray was killed on impact with the ground, still strapped to his seat. The automatic sequence for separating the pilot from the seat even though the pilot may be unconscious definitely was defective. Additionally, the pilot was not wearing his fitted pressure suit but rather one that was larger which may have been a contributing factor.

Walter L. Ray was the first CIA pilot killed in the line of duty and is so honored in the "Book of Honor", CIA Headquarters in McLean, Va.

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