Trevor Paglen – Emblems from the Pentagon Black World

CLASSIFIED FLIGHT TEST, 509, GUSTATUS SIMILIS PULLUS TO SERVE MAN, 509, GUSTATUS SIMILIS PULLUS  This was the original version of a patch commemorating a flight test series involving a B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber. The Greek sigma symbol on the test shape's outline signifies the unknown RCS value. The number "509" refers to the 509th Bomb Wing, which operates the United States' stealth bombers from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. The alien is a reference to the 509th's infamous lineage. In 1947, the 509th was based at Roswell, New Mexico, home of the "Roswell incident," which ensued after the 509th's commander, Col. William Blanchard, issued a press release whose headline stated: "Roswell Army Airfield Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region."  The dog-Latin phrase Gustasus Similis Pullus translates as "Tastes Like Chicken." Note the knife and fork [trident].  This patch was eventually modified when Air Force officials insisted that the phrase "Classified Flight Test" not appear on the design. In an updated version of the patch, "Classified Flight Test" has been replaced with the words "To Serve Man," referencing a classic episode of The Twilight Zone.
A second patch associated with the classified "Desert Prowler" project. Again, the collection of five-plus-one stars may represent the classified operating location at Groom Lake, Nevada, also known as Area 51.  The meaning of the other symbols on this patch is unclear.
This patch represents an unknown project undertaken by the 413th Flight Test Squadron The zipper seems to refer to the fact that the project cannot be discussed. The first part of the phrase "We make threats" might refer to making simulated (or real) electronic "threats" against aircraft.  This patch was worn by DC-130 flight crews responsible for testing the TSSAM cruise missile (also known as the Killer Whale). The numbers 716 and 526 refer to the pair of DC-130s used as control aircraft for the unmanned test articles.
"Triangulum" is reported to designate a variation on the RS6b SENIOR SPEAR sensor system built into some versions of the U-2 spy plane. The Triangulum system allegedly uses twelve antennae along the aircraft's fuselage and an antenna on each wing.
Red Hats was the nickname of the 6513th Test Squadron, whose mission was to test fly a collection of Soviet military aircraft surreptitiously acquired from foreign sources. The 6513th was based at Groom Lake, Nevada in a collection of hangars on the northern end of the base that became known as "Red Square." The program to test Soviet MiGs at Groom Lake began in the late 1960s as a joint CIA/USAF effort under the code names HAVE DRILL and HAVE DOUGHNUT.  Again, note the collection of six stars on the patch, which may refer to Groom Lake's nickname, Area 51.  The 6513th was deactivated in 1992 and transformed into the 413th Flight Test Squadron.
Another patch from an obscure Scaled Composites project; the symbolism is unclear. The name Pete may refer to Scaled Composites test pilot Peter Siebold.

These images are from artist, writer, and experimental geographer Trevor Paglen‘s book I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagons Black World. Paglen recent talked about the book on the Colbert Report.  Images taken from the Nader Library.

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