Lockheed A-12 Blackbird
Disassembly had many potential stumbling blocks. The Blackbird had to be reduced from its 55 foot wide stance to a size that could be transported through three states. Due to the nature of a “spy plane” and its missions, very little information concerning assembly, much less disassembly, was available from the U.S. Air Force or from Lockheed. The disassembly process was designed, on site, during inspections prior to the move with a special emphasis on not cutting the airframe.
Transportation included designing the cradling to carry the fuselage and directing the loading of it and the four other components onto the trailers. Transportation also meant accompanying the aircraft during its trip to provide public relations and 24-hour security as well as monitoring the safety of the loads and supplying technical assistance to state agencies and transportation crews.
Reassembly first took the aircraft through a complete inspection from tip to tail and a thorough cleaning. The next step was the preservation of all internal parts and reassembly of all components. Following extensive research for historical correctness of the paint scheme, the Blackbird’s external surfaces were prepared and painted and the markings were applied.
The aircraft was moved from its reassembly site to the Museum of Flight’s Great Gallery and placed in its permanent exhibit site. Finishing touches were provided and the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird exhibit opened to a large and enthusiastic aviation community.