Col. Ronald 'Jack' Layton 1927-2013 'Dutch 27'
Jack Layton was born in 1927 and raised in the
After earning his silver wings, Jack was assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, and it was not long before Jack was forced to bail out of an airplane, the first of three emergency bailouts over his career. Jack spent the next eight years or so flying Republic F-84s at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, Langley AFB in Virginia, and Woodbridge AFB in England. He then flew North American F-89s and McDonnell F-101s at Hamilton AFB in
For some military pilots, two emergency bailouts over a career would be exciting enough, but for Jack the excitement was just beginning. In the early 1960s, he was selected for screening to join a top secret CIA program called Project Oxcart. Project Oxcart was developed after a perceived need to replace the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance airplane. The U-2 dated from as far back as 1952, when development on the aircraft began under the direction of a CIA initiative headed by Richard M. Bissell. Within just a few years of U-2 operational flights over the
Pilots for the Oxcart Project had to meet a very demanding set of CIA and Air Force specifications. Air Force files were screened for possible candidates that were qualified in the newest high performance jet fighters, emotionally stable, and extremely well motivated. They had to be between 25 and 40 years of age, less than six feet tall, and weigh no more than 175 pounds. By November of 1961 the initial five pilots were selected, and by February 1963 another eleven were picked by the Agency. Jack was in the second group. He was sent to
Jack was brought in very early on the A-12 program, the A-12 being the forerunner of the SR-71 Blackbird. He tested it for a little over four years before they became operationally ready.
By 1966 the A-12 was ready for operations, but it would be some time before actual missions were flown. During those same years the A-12 was being test flown, development of the SR-71 reconnaissance plane and YF-12 interceptor were well underway. While the A-12 was a CIA aircraft flown by Air Force pilots under contract with the CIA, the SR-71 was a less sophisticated airplane than the A-12, but with the same reconnaissance mission, only under Air Force control. The YF-12 was developed as a missile-carrying interceptor for the Air Defense Command of the Air Force, but only two prototypes were completed and no orders were made. Jack had the opportunity to fly all three aircraft over his career.
In May 1967 Jack was selected to fly one of three of the twelve A-12s manufactured by Lockheed to Kadena airfield at
Jack returned to the