- Paperback: 372 pages
- Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st edition (February 1, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780316743006
- ISBN-13: 978-0316743006
- ASIN: 0316743003
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 501 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed Paperback – February 1, 1996
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From the Back Cover
Skunk Works is the true story, told for the first time, of America's most secret and successful aerospace operation. As recounted by Ben Rich, the operation's brilliant boss for nearly two decades, the story of Lockheed's legendary Skunk Works is a high-stakes drama of cold war confrontations and Gulf War air combat, of extraordinary feats of engineering and human achievement against fantastic odds.
About the Author
Ben Rich headed the Skunk Works from 1975 until he retired in 1991. He died in 1995. Leo Janus is the author of Yeager, the acclaimed bestselling autobiography of test pilot Chuck Yeager.
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Primarily focusing on the F-117 Stealth, it has sizable portions devoted to the U-2, and the SR-71 Mach 3 Spy Planes. Truly incredible developments in the World of Aviation.
A great read.
(1) Eliminate bureaucracy
(2) Prefer having a small with high average talent to a larger less talented team
(3) Make sure different functions are physically next to each and communicate incessantly
(4) Shield the team from external pressure
(5) Challenge the team with "impossible" problems that get talented people excited.
These are all things that can help a small talented team far outperform a larger team with a much bigger budget.
Here's one example. One engineer was formulating a new fuel for the U-2 that would work in the high altitude engine. The fuel was called LF something or other, and there was a running joke that that stood for "Lighter Fluid" due to it's awful smell. Chemically it was actually more similar to one of the main ingredients in the bug spray "Flit", which was popular at the time. The year they put the (still very top-secret) U2 into service, there was an unexplained nationwide shortage of bug-spray.
Rich carries on to the details of stealth (blowing away the plots of many Techno-Thrillers of the 80's and 90's like Dale Brown's "the Flight of the Old Dog" and other "stealth based" story-lines). He tells amazing anecdotes, like how the initial radar tests of the stealth airframe failed, only to subsequently find the pole holding up the frame reflected back 1,000 times more energy than the frame itself!