SPY: The Secret World of Espionage offers guests the first-ever public exhibition of treasures from the collections of the CIA, the FBI, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and H. Keith Melton, the renowned author, historian and international authority on spy technology. Guests will see real gadgets and real artifacts from spies and spy catchers. They will observe real spy technologies, and learn the real tools-of-trade, some recently declassified. Photos of sample artifacts follow below with descriptions. See additional images at the Seattle Times here.
*Peek into the cockpit of the supersonic A-12 Oxcart Spy Plane from 1962, one
of only nine remaining in the world, designed to defeat Soviet air defenses by
cruising at more than three times the speed of sound.
*See the Bulgarian Assassination Umbrella that fired a poison ricin pellet into
the leg of BBC reporter and Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov’s leg while he
was waiting for the bus.
*Navigate your way through the perilous complexities of an actual laser field
without tripping a circuit!
*Come face-to-face with KGB surveillance photos taken during the Cuban
*Discover the art of steganography, the art of hiding secret messages inside
the pixels of innocent-looking digital photos.
*Peer into the Minox IIIs Camera that Oleg Penkovkiy used to photograph
During World War II, the German military and intelligence services used Enigma cipher machines to create what they thought were unbreakable messages. The Enigma offered 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible solutions to any one enciphered message. Yet the Allies were often able to find the right solution and read German secrets. In doing so, they created the world’s first electronic computer, Colossus. This intelligence coup shortened the war by an estimated two years.
ROBOT FISH “CHARLIE”
This remote-controlled robotic catfish was spawned in the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology. The goal was to explore the use of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for aquatic missions. “Charlie” swims in a realistic manner thanks to a pressure hull and ballast system in its body and a propulsion system in its tail.
Invented in the 1970s by the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology, this robotic dragonfly was the world’s first miniaturized unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). A tiny liquid-propellant engine drove its wings up and down. The “Insectothopter” ultimately proved unstable in crosswinds, but its fluid dynamic technology inspired further research into miniature platforms for spy cameras and audio sensors.
A-12 FLIGHT BOOTS, GLOVES AND HELMET
Developed by Lockheed under the ironic codename OXCART, the A-12 cruised at more than three times the speed of sound, creating such friction against the atmosphere that the air surrounding the plane often reached 400°F. Its camera could photograph the ground from 90,000 feet above. A-12 pilots wore a type of protective pressure suit with thermal insulation, pressure control, cooling, and a life support system. The suit offered protection from heat radiating through the windshield and from cold and low pressure in the event of a high-altitude bailout.
Developed by the CIA in 1970, the aim was to capture film footage of sensitive areas during low-level flights by pigeons. Pigeons!
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