Skunk Works

Ed had earned his air force commission through ROTC and then his wings in the air force. After twenty years he retired, earned an engineering degree. With a Top Secret Security Clearance he sought to join a division of Skunk Works.

After a series of interviews he was offered a position with an engineering team and reported to work one Monday morning.

“We need to give you a tour of the big hangar so you what we’re doing with airplanes. See if you‘re up to the task,” stated Roger, his immediate supervisor, a tall man with thinning hair and a hatchet face. “We need to go out to Edwards to do that,” and ushered him toward an odd aircraft that had been modified many times for various flight tests and eventually became known as the “two-seater taxi”.

“This is a strange-looking beast.”

“Ain’t though? Here, you drive,” said Roger, tossing Ed the key.

Ed climbed into the left seat and after taking a few minutes to familiarize himself with the instrument panel and controls he started the engine, checked the gauges, got clearance, and they were on their way.

They’d been in the air less than five minutes when the left-wing came up. Ed glanced at Roger, as if to say what the hell. But Roger was admiring the view and seemed not to notice. After checking his controls Ed dialed in enough trim to bring the wing back down.

A minute later the wing was back up again. Ed dialed in more trim to get the wing down a second time. The third time the wing came up there was no more trim adjustment to be had.

“What the hell is wrong with this airplane?” he asked.

Roger laughed. That was when Ed realized the control cables ran along side Roger’s seat. After they were airborne and on course Roger had pulled on the cables. Each time Ed adjusted the trim, Roger pulled a bit harder.

“That was your final test, Ed. Welcome to Skunk Works.”