“Sneeky Pete” was an advanced technology demonstrator built by TASK Research Inc. of Santa Paula California in 1982, and was believed to have been built to test early avionics/electronic equipment that could fly a plane remotely (forerunner of today’s advanced UAV’s, RPV’s and UCAV’s). This single pilot manned test-bed was built by Jim Kern (president of TASK) which supplied many composite structures/components for the Rutan designed Long-EZ, Defiant, and Voyager aircraft during the early to mid 1980’s. Task Research Inc., was also involved in many military projects including the Northrop F-20 Tigershark, Lockheed TR-1 program, and supplied materials for U.S. Army helicopter blades. Note: Rutan Aircraft Factory/Scaled Composites was NOT involved in the construction/building process of the Sneeky Pete aircraft
The maiden flight of Sneeky Pete took place at Mojave Airport on July 18th, 1982 with Dick Rutan at the controls (Mike Melvill, along with many others served as test pilots for this aircraft). Sneeky Pete was described as a “Long-EZ knock off”, slightly larger than a standard Long-EZ, with more rounded fuselage sides and a large bulbous two piece canopy. The craft also incorporated an extra long pitot tube in the front. This particular aircraft had a wing span of 28 feet with an overall length of approximately 17 feet. Power was supplied by a single Lycoming O-360 (180 HP) engine turning a variable pitch wood or composite propeller. The aircraft incorporated a retractable nose gear which was powered by an electric motor. The wing root to fuselage joint was blended/contoured and flowed seamlessly into the cockpit. Sneeky Pete was outfitted with various special avionics depending on the specific mission requirement. Eyewitnesses described the exterior of the aircraft as white in color. Only one airframe was ever constructed . The designation “Sneeky Pete” was written along the side of the fuselage.
It’s believed the flight test program for Sneeky Pete took place at the remote test site in Nevada (aka Area 51/AFFTC DET. 3) starting in late 1982 and is still ongoing. The aircraft has been put into seclusion at various times, but has never been officially retired. During its “down time”, Sneeky Pete was most likely stored in a TOP-SECRET facility known as “Dyson’s Dock” at Groom Lake which was also the location of the Northrop “Tacit Blue” technology demonstrator after it was retired in 1985. In its later variants, Sneeky Pete flew under jet power, and may have contributed to today’s advanced UAV’s which include: The Northrop/Grumman Global Hawk, General Atomics Predator, Boeing X-45, Northrop/Grumman X-47 Pegasus. No photographs of “Sneeky Pete” have ever surfaced within the public domain (a bit odd for a vintage piston powered composite canard aircraft). Now that the Lockheed “Senior Trend” (F-117 Nighthawk), Northrop “Tacit Blue”, “Project Senior C J” (Northrop ATB stealth Bomber), and the Boeing Phantom Works “Bird of Prey” have been declassified and now reside at the USAF museum (Dayton Ohio), it’s time for “Sneeky Pete” to come out into the light as declassifying this aircraft no longer poses any threat to the national security of the United States.
Please note that “Sneeky Pete” is NOT to be confused with the well known Rutan Long-EZ, or the German built “Long-EZ look-a-like” Speed Canard.
Please preserve a very important part of our national history by sending any technical information, drawings, sketches, illustrations or photos of the “Sneeky Pete” aircraft to military aerospace historian Michael Schratt below:
215 Lake Shore Dr.
Crystal Lake IL, 60014
Please see YouTube link below for my graphic intensive PowerPoint presentation titled: THAT'S CLASSIFIED......USAF SECRETS REVEALED