Engineers working in the "black world" of classified military projects are often referred to in military circles as "black hats." There are a lot of jokes about the difference between "white hats" and their spooky counterparts.
The image below isn't a patch per se. It's a memorial coin whose purpose remains a little bit of a mystery to me. Anyone who's spent some time with my book should be able to decode most of the symbols in the coin below, except one. The crescent-like shape above the cloud is a mystery. Anyone have any theories?
Below is a patch from a black project that I don't know anything about. Rumors have long held that the Air Force built an aircraft nicknamed the "Black Manta" sometime in the 1980s as a companion plane to the F-117A stealth fighter. Supposedly, it flew missions in tandem with F-117As during the first Gulf War, providing laser-targeting information from a very high altitude. The "Black Manta" story, however, is just a rumor, and there isn't very good evidence that the airplane ever existed. On the other hand, there isn't very good evidence for most things going on in the "black world."
I'd love to hear any theories about the symbology in the patch below.
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Trevor Paglen is an expert on clandestine military installations. He leads expeditions to the secret bases of the American west and is the author, with AC Thompson, of Torture Taxi.
Books mentioned in this post
Trevor Paglen is the author of I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World