drone collided with the launch 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. The tragic loss of an aircraft and crewmember ended the use of OXCART as a launch aircraft, but it did not spell the end of TAGBOARD.
In 1967, the D-21 received a new lease on life. Under the SENIOR BOWL program, the drone was reconfigured for launch from a B-52 and redesignated D-21B. It was reconfigured for launch from inboard wing pylons and propelled to ramjet-ignition speed by a rocket booster. Two B-52H aircraft (60-0036 and 61-0021) from the 4200th Support Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, California, were sent to Groom Lake for the test program.
The unofficial first flight occurred on 28 September 1967, when a D-21B was accidentally dropped due to a mechanical failure. The first actual launch attempt took place 6 November. Flight-testing continued through July 1969. The program was terminated in 1971 after only four operational flights.
At some point during the late 1960s, Area 51 gained a new nickname: DREAMLAND. This purportedly was derived from DREAM-LAND, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. It describes lakes that "endlessly outspread" with waters "lone and dead." More to the point, Poe admonishes that "the traveler, traveling through it, may not-dare not openly view it; Never its mysteries are exposed, to the weak human eye unclosed." Coincidence or not, it is certainly an apt description of Area 51.
Several A-12 airplanes were deployed from Area 51 to Kadena, Japan, for Operation Black Shield reconnaissance flights over Southeast Asia in 1967. One of the airplanes was lost during a training mission and the pilot presumed killed. Four A-12s had been lost in accidents at or near Area 51, but only one of these was fatal. The surviving airframes were retired in June 1968 and placed in storage at a Lockheed facility in Palmdale.
The A-12 remained unknown to the public for 12 more years while the YF-12A and later SR- 71 became some of the most famous airplanes in the world.
Beginning in the late 1960s, and for several decades, DREAMLAND played host to a motley assortment of Soviet-built aircraft. The first such program, in 1968, involved technical and tactical evaluations of a MiG-21F-13 that the Israeli Defense Forces had acquired from an Iraqi defector. Called HAVE DOUGHNUT, the project was a joint effort of the U.S. Air Force Systems Command, Tactical Air Command, and the U.S. Navy's Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four (VX-4).
The MiG-21 was flown against nearly all U.S. combat aircraft types, allowing Air Force and Navy pilots to develop improved tactics for combating Eastern bloc aircraft.
A similar evaluation program in 1969, called HAVE DRILL/HAVE FERRY, involved two Syrian MiG-17F fighters. As in the earlier program, a small group of Air Force and Navy pilots conducted mock dogfights with the MiG-17. Selected instructors from the Navy's Top Gun school at NAS Miramar, California, were chosen to fly against the MiGs for familiarization purposes.
Testing of foreign technology aircraft continued and expanded throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Additional MiG-17, MiG-21, MiG-23, Su-7B, Su-22 and other aircraft underwent intensive evaluations. The 6513th Test Squadron Red Hats from the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC) at Edwards conducted technical evaluation sorties. The 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron Red Eagles, headquartered at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, performed tactical evaluations. In April 1984 Lt. Gen. Robert M. Bond, Vice Commander of Air Force Systems Command, lost his life in the crash of a MiG-23 during an orientation flight.