F-19 Revealed?

By Mark McCandlish and Michael Schratt
Illustration by Mark McCandlish
Copyright September 2004
Back in 1986, there was speculation among military pilots, and industry insiders that a new secret aircraft was being developed having the mysterious designation "F-19". The rumors were partially substantiated by leaks within the aerospace industry, and a $9.95 model produced by Testors model corporation which incidentally became the biggest selling plastic model kit of all time. At the very least, the USAF added to the confusion by skipping a designation between the McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet, and the Northrop F-20 Tigershark. This left a gap for an aircraft that may have held the designation F-19. It was said the F-19 was a low observable stealth aircraft that was being developed by Lockheed's famous "Skunk Works" division. However, when the F-117 stealth fighter was finally revealed to the public on November 10, 1988 rumors of the mysterious "F-19" disappeared. It was assumed that the F-19 was in fact the F-117.
New research now indicates that this assumption was fundamentally incorrect, and that there really was an F-19. In 1979, a retired SR-71 pilot was flying a Lear jet north of what is commonly referred to as "Area 51". After breaking through a group of clouds, the pilot noticed a very strange looking aircraft just ahead and to his lower left position (he had been shadowing the craft for approximately 10 minutes). The aircraft measured approximately 65 feet in length. It was completely black in color, and had a "flattened football" or rounded diamond shape, and appeared slightly more elongated in the front half (see drawing by Mark McCandlish). The "X-15 like" cockpit was a fully enclosed blister that tapered back towards the aft end of the craft. There were two forward facing triangular windows on either side of a wedge shaped "splitter" pillar. The internally mounted engines were fed by two NACA air-intake ducts slightly aft and to either side of the cockpit. There were also two additional air-intakes on the lower surface of the aircraft. The craft featured what looked like trapezoidal shaped or "trap door" exhaust ports near the aft end. There were control surfaces on the leading and trailing edges. The most unique feature however, was a very unusual dorsal and ventral tail arrangement. The vertical stabilizer looked very similar in appearance to that of the old B-17 Flying Fortress, but with an identical stabilizer on the bottom. The lower ventral fin retracted sideways and up, to allow clearance for landing. This particular craft had afterburner capability.
All of the evidence indicates that this was a twin engine hybrid propulsion design aircraft. It would appear that this particular aircraft built in 1976, was a proof of concept (first generation) design for what was to be commonly referred to as the "Aurora". The pilot was quite startled after seeing this aircraft, and contacted ATC (air traffic control) at Nellis AFB to ask: "why did you not advise me of the other traffic in my vicinity"? At this point, there was a short pause, and then ATC responded by saying: "because there is no traffic in your vicinity, Sir". Next, the Lear jet pilot responded by saying: "the hell there isn't! I've got an all black, diamond-shaped, no wings, single seat, twin engine aircraft with ventral and dorsal vertical stabilizers, flying 100 feet out in my 11:00 o'clock position right now! I'm looking out my windscreen at it as we speak". After a pause of ten seconds or so, the Lear jet pilot saw the pilot of this other aircraft look out of his right windscreen, register an expression of extreme surprise, than abruptly bank away while simultaneously lighting up the afterburners, and disappearing into a cloud bank. After a pause of twenty seconds or so, a different voice came over the radio, (a much harsher sounding voice) which directed the Lear jet pilot to vector south where he would be landing at Nellis AFB. The pilot complied, and was told to taxi to the end of the runway, shut down his engines, and to not depart his aircraft. At this point, the pilot was met by Air Force security personnel, and was interrogated for the next 18 hours about his encounter with the mysterious "black jet".
In an article titled: "Sightings' and Engineers' dreams taking to skies as black aircraft", written by Bill Scott, and published in Aviation week and Space Technology on December 24th 1990, on page 42, paragraph two speaks of "well choreographed show and tell sessions given to selected members of congress and key government officials". At one such "dog and pony" show held at Norton AFB on Nov 12th 1988, the second generation "Aurora" aircraft was put on display. This "exhibit" of various classified aircraft was arranged to garner further financial backing for special access or "black" programs. The (2nd generation Aurora) looked very similar in appearance to that of the "F-19" with the exception of the pilot and tail assembly (see drawing by Mark McCandlish AWST December 24, 1990). It also featured eight air-intakes instead of the four used on the manned F-19 version. A clear lineage of this specific aircraft type can now be identified.
Regarding the propulsion system used on the aircraft (2nd generation Aurora) shown at Norton AFB, it featured hundreds of tiny fuel ejector holes located just aft of a ridge that ran laterally across the widest part of the aircraft. Looking from the side, it resembled a flattened football shape with a distinctive raised ridge or high point that tapered back to the aft end. As for the external appearance, it looked like the entire aircraft was composed of black space shuttle heat resistant tiles, which showed signs of scorched heat thermal erosion, due to the exotic propulsion system. The concept being, conventional turbo-jets would propel the craft to approximately mach 3. At this point, the eight NACA ducts would close providing for a smooth aerodynamic surface. Next, the craft would "switch propulsion systems" by turning off the conventional jet engines, and begin spraying a highly modified slush hydrogen fuel directly at the raised portion of the craft. By now, the craft traveling in excess of mach 3, would begin to glow a very dull red color at the leading edges, and mid section. Air flow over the vehicle at supersonic speeds caused a "wake separation" to occur at the slight lateral ridge, and fuel injected into this super heated, highly compressed air-stream spontaneously combusted, expanding between the tapered "after-body" of the craft, and the supersonic shock wave which separated at the ridge.
Technically speaking, it's an ingenious and simple propulsion system with no moving parts once the secondary system is engaged. The term "Pulsar" came from the fact that the un-manned version had a severe tile erosion problem with the fuel combusting over the after-body. The solution was the "pulsed detonation" process used to shorten this duty cycle and preserve tile integrity. The trap doors that closed outwardly from inside the craft for both the NACA duct inlets and the trapezoidal-shaped exhaust ports was a transitional process that allowed an overlap between the operation of both the internal engines, and the pulse detonation external system. Prior to cycling the external propulsion system, the contrail was indistinguishable from any other military two or four engine aircraft. Once the internal engines were shut down, the fuel would be regulated or "pulsed" causing the distinctive "donuts-on-a-rope" contrail reported all over the world since the mid 1980's (see. AWST May 11, 1992). It's now clear that Lockheed first tried this multiple propulsion concept on the manned F-19/proof of concept Aurora version before building the UCAV (un-manned combat aerial vehicle) model which featured no tail surfaces. The "bugs" and technical difficulties of transferring from one propulsion system to the other in-flight would logically be easier to eliminate with a pilot on board who could provide "real time" flight test data to ground controllers. In fact, the unmanned version provided the "Rosetta stone" from which to draw out the details for the original manned F-19.
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Please contact Michael Schratt for more information
Michael Schratt
215 Lake Shore Dr.
Crystal Lake IL, 60014



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