The skies above and near the Soviet Union were one of the more hotly contested front lines of the Cold War. In the decades after World War II but before satellites assumed a large part of the responsibility for keeping tabs on the threat, unarmed, manned reconnaissance aircraft flying near (and sometimes over) hostile territory provided valuable intelligence on the intentions and capabilities of the enemies of the United States.
This cache will take you to the National Vigilance Park, (NVP Website Link) not too far from the National Cryptologic Museum, which serves as a memorial to the crews of the 18 American aircraft lost to hostile fire during the Cold War while flying these critically important reconnaissance missions. The price of vigilance was paid in full by these brave aircrews, lost on missions they flew alone, unarmed, and unafraid. Please take a moment to honor their sacrifice as you visit here.
Driving Directions: The National Vigilance Park (NVP) is located near the main campus of the National Security Agency (NSA). The park is publicly accessible IF you carefully follow the directions to the waypoint.
- NSA is located just east of Laurel, Maryland on Fort Meade.
- From Highway 32, exit on to Canine Road.
- At the first stop light past the exit, turn left (towards the Museum)
- Follow the road (and your GPSr) to the waypoint
- Look for the flagpole just off the paved area of the large parking lot.
- Leave your GPSr and camera in the car. For this part of the cache, you don't need them. Trust me. Read logs from JPatton and Robert below!
An important word of warning here: If you do NOT turn left a the light, you arrive at a traffic checkpoint and will be immediately introduced to the very courteous, very professional, and very well armed NSA Police, who will promptly arrest your butt for attempting entry to a secure area without proper credentials. Once again, Turn left at the light. I don’t post bail.
This is a simple puzzle cache, with some driving necessary between the stages. Straight addition and subtraction here, none of that spherical geometry stuff. I freely admit the only reason I created this cache is to bring more people to this memorial. To complete the cache, you will have to read a number of the plaques and closely observe the markings on the aircraft. My hope is during your search, you read all the plaques and markers, and in that way get a better understanding of the sacrifice made by these men during the height of the Cold War.
The final cache is located at: N 39° 0Z.X37 W 076° 46.8NN
The missing values for the final coordinates may be derived by solving the following simple puzzles:
The coordinates listed for this cache are for the flagpole at NVP. Directly beyond the flagpole is a large, 4-engined, silver aircraft with an orange tail. This is a C-130 flown by the United States Air Force.
What is the number on the tail of the aircraft? 605aa.
According to the plaque, how many men were on board when was it shot down? bb
There is a US Navy EA-3B aircraft in the park. What is the number on the rear fuselage underneath the tail? 1464cc.
(aa + cc) – bb = NN
How many men crew the US Army’s RU-8D? X
How many men were on board the EA- 3B “Ranger 12” when it was lost in 1987? Z
In keeping with the theme of the cache, the FTF prize was a copy of the book By Any Means Necessary: America's Secret Air War in the Cold War by William Burrows. This cache was also used to launch the “They Served in Silence” 2005 Maryland Geocaching Society Geocoin (TBMHFQ).
While in the neighborhood, stop by and visit the National Cryptologic Museum located at N39 06.881 W076 46.512. It’s a short walk from the park through the woods from NVP, or you can drive your car past the Shell station and park it there while you learn about this fascinating and often misunderstood aspect of intelligence. NCM Website Link
Congratulations to Trevelyan's R&R for being FTF!!!