X hits on this document

PDF document

Humble Beginnings - page 15 / 63





15 / 63

The second U-2 (Article 342) was delivered to Watertown.

October 1955 Test pilots Robert Sieker and Robert Schumacher joined the U-2 test team.

Pursuant to a request by the Las Vegas Review Journal the previous month, the AEC released a statement regarding progress on the "Watertown Project." It stated that "construction at the Nevada Test Site installation a few miles north of Yucca Flat which was announced last spring is continuing. Data secured to date has indicated a need for limited additional facilities and modifications of the existing installation. The additional work which will not be completed until sometime in 1956 is being done by the Reynolds electrical and Engineering Company, Incorporated under the direction of the Atomic Energy Commission's Las Vegas branch office."

November 1955 U.S. Air Force C-54M (44-9068) transporting personnel to Watertown crashed near the top of Mt. Charleston, about 20 miles west of Las Vegas. Nine civilians and five military personnel were killed. There were no survivors.

After the accident, Lockheed took on the responsibility of transporting personnel to the test site. A C-47, owned by Lockheed, was used to bring in pilots, technicians, and special visitors.

December 1955 Defense Secretary Charles Wilson visited Watertown for a briefing on the U-2 operation.

January 1956 By the beginning of 1956, four U-2 aircraft had been delivered to the Groom Lake test site.

March 1956 The fleet consisted of nine aircraft, and six CIA pilots were undergoing flight training at the site. Col. Landon McConnell was assigned as base commander at Watertown. CIA Director Allen Dulles visited Watertown to personally meet the first training class.

May 1956 As Wilburn S. Rose took off on a training flight in U-2A (56-6678), one of the wing pogo wheels failed to separate. Rose flew low over the field, trying to shake it loose. The aircraft, heavy with fuel, stalled and crashed, killing Rose.

The second class arrived at Watertown. It included Francis G. "Frank" Powers, who would later win dubious fame after being shot down and captured while flying a U-2 over the Soviet Union.

While Powers' class underwent training, a group of four Greek and one Polish pilot also came to Groom for familiarization in the U-2. The Greek pilots all washed out during training, and the Polish pilot was never allowed to fly the U-2.

August 1956 The second U-2 class completed their training. The third U-2 training class arrived at Watertown. Among others, it included Frank G. Grace Jr. and Bob Ericson.

Grace was killed during a night training flight while flying U-2A (56-6687). He became disoriented by lights near the end of the runway, and flew into a telephone pole.

Document info
Document views152
Page views152
Page last viewedFri Oct 21 23:49:06 UTC 2016