AREA 51 - SR-71 blackbird TEST pilot signed 12x8 Colonel KEN COLLINS
All items will be sent securely, in the case of FDCs or photographs they will be sent in hard backed envelopes, the item in a plastic sleeve. 1st class postage will be used within the UK unless the buyer requests Special delivery rates.
Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the home of Fort Leavenworth, one of the oldest Army Posts of the new western frontiers. It was from here that my grandfather, Sergeant Edward E. Collins of the 10th U. S. Cavalry, was sent out with the Troopers to fight in the Battle of Wounded Knee.
Across the Missouri River from Fort Leavenworth is Park University where I attended for two years and joined the Naval Air Reserves. During the summer of 1950, I applied for the Air Force pilots training. I was sent to Goodfellow AFB, Texas for Basic Flight Training in January 1951. I completed Advanced Pilots Training and was commissioned at Vance AFB, OK on 9 February 1952.
In late May 1952, I completed F-80 Jet Transition at Moody AFB, GA, volunteered for Korea and was transferred to Shaw AFB, SC, 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Photo Jet) for Combat Crew Training School in the RF-80.
I arrived at K-14 (Kimpo Air Base, Korea) in mid August 1952. By March 1953, I had checked out in the RF-80A, the F-80C and the RF-86A and had flown 113 combat missions while in the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (The Cottonpickers).
My new stateside assignment was back to the 18th TRS at Shaw AFB, SC as an Instructor Pilot in the RF-80 and the RF-84F. In October 1955, I was transferred to 10th TRWg, 38th TRS at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany as an Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in RF-80 and the RF-84F. In 1957, I was reassigned to the Military Advisory Group (MAG) at Erding AB, Germany as an Instructor Pilot with the German Air Force Waffenschule 50 (Weapons School 50). In 1959.
I returned to Shaw AFB, SC to the 20th TRS (RF-101) as a Flight Commander and Operations Officer. In 1960, I was contacted by the USAF Office of NASA requesting that I volunteer for testing for a classified space program. This evolved into the highly classified A-12 Oxcart Program. My first flight in the A-12 was on 6 February 1963.
The A-12 experimental test phase lasted through the first months of 1967 followed by the operational deployment to Okinawa. I flew 6 A-12 combat missions being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Intelligence Star from the Central Intelligence Agency. The A-12 program was cancelled and I elected an assignment to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SAC) at Beale AFB, CA to fly the SR-71 "Blackbird". I became the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron Operations Officer, an Instructor Pilot and Test Pilot in the SR-71.
When promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1970, I was made the 1st SRS Commander and after promotion to Colonel I was selected to be the 9th SR Wing Deputy Commander for Operations in 1972. Two years later I was reassigned to Headquarters, 15th Air Force, March AFB, California and retired as Deputy Chief of Intelligence in 1980.Military Awards: Silver Star, Intelligence Star, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal.
I am a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Edwards AFB Historical Test Flight Foundation. I received a BA from Chapman College, Orange, California. After Air Force retirement I took a managerial position with California Microwave, Inc/Government Electronics Division in Woodland Hills, California. Over the next nineteen years I served as a Program Manager of the classified RIVET KIT program (RC-130 aircraft), Business Development Director for the RC-135, Combat Sent (electronics reconnaissance) system and other reconnaissance systems and as Vice President and General Manager.
Private signing at Mr Collins Home, 28th October 2011
A real gem for any collector.
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