1963 Lou Schalk took Kelly Johnson for a ride in the TA-12 (Article 124/60-6927).
March 1964 After President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the existence of the YF-12A (intentionally calling it "Lockheed A-11" at Kelly Johnson's request), the YF-12A test program moved to Edwards AFB, California.
July 1964 Lockheed test pilot Bill Park flew a high-speed sortie in A-12 (Article 133/60-6939). While on final approach to Groom Lake, the controls locked up, and the aircraft began to roll. Park ejected just 200 feet above the ground. He swung through just one parachute oscillation before touching down.
December 1964 Kelly Johnson flew Najeeb Halaby to the Area 51 test site. Halaby was taken up for a flight in the two-seat TA-12 trainer (Article 124/60-6927). Bill Park piloted the first mated flight of the M-21/D-21 combination. The M-21 motherships were Article 134/60-6940 and Article 135/60-6941.
November 1965 The A-12 was declared ready for operational use.
December 1965 After takeoff in A-12 (Article 126/60-6929), Mele Vojvodich was forced to eject as the aircraft went out of control about 100 feet above the ground. The flight lasted only six seconds. Vojvodich parachuted to safety as the A-12 exploded nearby on the frozen surface of the lakebed. The cause was traced to controls that had been accidentally cross- wired during modifications.
March 1966 The Lockheed D-21 TAGBOARD ramjet powered unmanned reconnaissance drone was launched for the first time from a dorsal pylon on the M-21 mothership.
July 1966 The fourth launch attempt was made from M-21 (60-6941) with 60-6940 flying chase. After leaving Groom Lake, the aircraft flew out over the Pacific Ocean. As the D-21 separated from the launch pylon, it struck the tail of the M-21 resulting in the loss of the aircraft. Pilot Bill Park ejected safely and was rescued 150 miles off Point Mugu, California. His LSO Ray Torick ejected but drowned before he could be rescued.
Col. Hugh "Slip" Slater takes command of DWT 1, 1129th SAS and Area 51.
January 1967 While returning to Area 51 from a routine training flight, A-12 (Article 125/60-6928) crashed near Leith, Nevada. A faulty gauge had allowed the jet to run out of fuel 70 miles short of Groom Lake. Walt Ray ejected, but failed to separate from his seat, and was killed.
Mid-1967 (?) Sam Mitchell (CIA) assigned as commander of Area 51.
September 1967 James S. Simon Jr. died while flying chase during a night sortie of the TA-12. As the TA-12 approached the south end of the runway Simon's F-101B (56-0286) struck the ground and exploded near the South Trim Pad.
Under the SENIOR BOWL program, the D-21 drone was reconfigured for launch from a B- 52 and redesignated D-21B. Two B-52H aircraft (60-0036 and 61-0021) from the 4200th Support Squadron were sent to Groom Lake for the test program.