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If you enjoyed this article, I highly recommend checking out the book Skunk Works by Ben R. Rich (director of Lockheed's Skunkworks). It covers the development of this aircraft and several others through some pretty gripping accounts of engineering during the Cold War.

After seeing posts like this for a while I finally got around to reading the book this winter. Blew me away. If you're at all technically inclined and involved in engineering or science, read this book when you're feeling sorry for yourself and things aren't going your way. It will get your mind right.

I say that because many extraordinary things came from these incredibly smart but otherwise ordinary engineers. It reminds me of the quote from Steve Jobs about how once you realize all the stuff around you has been invented by people who are not that much smarter than you, it's very liberating.

I liked all the worrying and self-doubt that comes through in the book (especially since you know they pull most of it off eventually). There were daunting problems that they had to surmount one after another. They had to invent completely new ways of doing things: manufacturing, testing, materials, lubricants, etc... they were so far out in uncharted territory any one of those things could have been the end. But they pulled it all off not just once, but multiple times.

Definitely one of the best books about hacking I've ever read. Kelly Johnson and his team were the ultimate hardware hackers.


Talk about working the bleeding edge of technology, they basically built something from the future - theirs and ours - by inventing what they needed along the way.

Skunk Works is an incredibly engaging book. I devoured it in a few days and genuinely look forward to re-reading eventually.

I knew this was a long time ago, but I was surprised by the year on one of the photo's. They were testing that plane 51 years ago! And we have trouble getting a battery in an airplane these days. Sure makes it seem the rate of innovation in aviation has slowed way down.

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