Spying on the A-12 OXCART

FACT: Today’s Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News has a great elegy for a pilot who died forty years ago: “Jack Weeks, University of Alabama graduate and Birmingham native, died in service to his country [on June 4, 1968]. Reports from his most famous mission wound up on the president’s desk during one of the flashpoints of the Cold War. His widow accepted his medal for valor shortly after his death. But for 40 years, nobody knew what he’d done. Only his wife knew he was a hero…. Weeks was a pilot in the Central Intelligence Agency flying the super-secret A-12 high-level surveillance aircraft from 1963 until his death in 1968. A couple of weeks before his death, he became the pilot who located the USS Pueblo, the American intelligence-gathering ship, after it was captured by North Korean patrol boats…. Next month, Weeks will finally get the public recognition he was denied for so long. Battleship Park, home of the USS Alabama, will commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death on June 4 with a ceremony that will include an Alabama Air National Guard fly-over.”

ANALYSIS: Friday I was over at CIA headquarters at Langley meeting with a friend, and once inside the compound I parked by the Agency’s newest historical exhibit. Situated on a new traffic island between two parking lots behind the original headquarters building, looming over rows of parked cars, is a massive, gorgeous, sleek black aircraft perched on shiny steel struts as if in flight, twenty feet off the ground.

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