RayK

SR-71 Blackbird

16 posts in this topic

There are many things that can be called great that are attached to this plane. To begin with the classified side of Lockheed Corporation, Skunk Works. The amount of great planes that this great group of men put out was and is still amazing. Another piece of greatness is the man that lead Skunk Works for 40 years Clarence "Kelly" Johnson. So brilliant was he, that his subordinates would ask mathematical questions and he would answer them before they could come up with the calculator's answer. The man that was Kelly's right had man Ben Rich, who lead Skunk Works after Kelly retired and created the Stealth Fighter.

To get to the main point, the amazing SR-71 Blackbird. This plane was designed in the late 50's and early 60's, while being done all by Slide Rule. The plane is the fastest air breathing jet in the world, flying at more than Mach 3. It could fly in excess of 85,000 feet (16 miles), where it is said the pilots could see the curvature of the Earth. The Blackbird was shot at by missiles more than 1,000 times and never hit. The plane was for reconnaissance where it could take pictures of a golf ball on the green from 80,000 feet. The plane's cameras could survey 110,000 square miles of the Earth's surface per hour. This is just a short list of the total greatness that this plane accomplished.

I hope people can see the great wonders of all that was listed and the people that were part of it. As one might be able to tell, I admire flight and the great people that are and were part of it. I hope you all enjoy a view of this great plane.

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I am glad that you enjoyed it Zak.

I would like to make clear a statement that I made above, the SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest manned air breathing jet. There is a faster un-manned air breathing jet and it is called the X-43A, it has reached speeds around Mach 9.7, almost 7,000 miles per hour.

For anyone that cares to read further there are many books on this great plane. I have a couple of favorites though. The first being "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich, this book gives a general overview of what I mentioned in my first post, first paragraph. Another book is by Brian Shul, it is called "Sled Driver, Flying The Worlds Fastest Jet", it is expensive though and sells for $427.

Brian Shul has his own story to tell, he is a retired Air Force officer that was shot down during the "Vietnam War" and burned. He was not flying the SR-71 at the time. After he recovered from his injuries he started flying the SR-71. I actually met him last year at the Nellis Air Force Base Air Show. He was selling his book there, I think at a discount rate of $375/personally signed to the owner, there are only 3500 total books. The book is beautiful with amazing pictures of the plane in action.

Some of the other planes at the show were the F-22 Raptor, the F-18 and the awesome F-14 Tomcat. The F-14 Tomcat came roaring above at supersonic speed and then made an almost 90 degree turn straight up. I was there with my wife and children and it was awesome, somewhat nostalgic considering I have been going to air shows since the early 70's. And, as a matter of fact, my parents took my older brother and I (although I do not remember it), to the Apollo 11 launching in July of 1969, where my dad put me on his shoulders to watch the take-off. At the time my dad was stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, and this is where I was born.

Before the SR-71 was taken out of action I saw it at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa Japan in the early 1990's. Although I was stationed on another base, my wife was in the Navy and stationed at Kadena. There is a place where viewers can stand and watch the jets of Kadena take off, it is an amazing view at night.

I hope this adds a little more to this overall post and for those that care, to enjoy.

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A good place to see an SR-71 and one of its predecessors is the Blackbird Air Park, in Palmdale, CA. They also have a blackbird-launched drone and quite a few related items, such as a wind tunnel model, and the machine they used to start the plane's engines.

Air Park Web Page

They also have knowledgeable staff and show a movie about the SR-71.

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The first being "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich ...

Ben was a cousin of mine. He was the first president of the "Skunk Works," given the title "Chief Skunk." Ben died ten years ago. He led an interesting life.

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Stephen,

A tribute to your cousin from the last page of his book, which I now suspect you have already seen. Also, thank you for the insight.

"Ben R. Rich died from cancer on January 5, 1995. Ben died as he had lived - with courage, good humor, and resolve. At his request, his ashes were scattered from an airplane near his beachfront house on the California coast in Oxnard. At the moment his ashes were released, a Stealth fighter appeared out of the clouds and dipped its wings in a final salute to its creator."

In a final salute, to that which is good!

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To get to the main point, the amazing SR-71 Blackbird.

I hope people can see the great wonders of all that was listed and the people that were part of it.

Thanks for the great reminder, RayK!

Ever since I was a kid I loved stuff like that. I remember first seeing an SR-71 & thinking "Wow! That looks like a space ship!" I even had a little plastic, hobby model of it to zoom around the house.

Thanks for the wonderful backstory to it, which I had also forgotten.

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Your welcome Christopher, I think I enjoyed writing it as much as you enjoyed reading it. Like you I once had a model of the SR-71, except mine did not have the titanium that the originals had! :D

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If you happen to visit the DC area or Dulles Airport, stop at the Air & Space Museum branch near the airport. It has an SR-71 on display. Check out these pictures attached.

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For some FANTASTIC RECORDS: 8 minutes St. Louis to Cincinatti; 1 hr 4 min LA to DC.

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Paul,

Those are some impressive records, thanks.

I remember reading once (I cannot remember exactly where), a story by one of the pilots of the Blackbird during the early 60's. The pilot took off in the Blackbird from Beale Air Force Base in Sacramento, California at 0700, flew to D.C. then south to Cuba to take pictures of the Soviet missile build up. The pilots then returned the plane in the opposite flight pattern north to D.C. then west back to Beale AFB. All of the flying and their debriefing happened before lunch time. IMPRESSIVE!

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I agree with those who admire the beauty and the achievments of this plane. ( ( :D:D My first 3 posts are all on positive things. The gloom and doom comments can wait.........)

Another place to see one is at the Boeing Air Museum in Seattle. You can even sit in it there! The forward fuselage has a very small cross section. The cockpit is also small; I wouldn't relish a long flight in that cockpit.

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...I wouldn't relish a long flight in that cockpit.

On the bright side the flights would not be that long. :D

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Until just a few weeks ago, one could see an SR-71 "hovering" over Manhattan's West Side Highway.

This incredible design was on display on the flight deck of the Intrepid, a WWII aircraft carrier than was turned into a museum in the 80s.

The museum also had a Concorde on display.

(Intrepid was recently moved to dry-dock for much needed repairs. A new and improved facility is due to reopen in 2008.)

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As I understand it the SR71 was originally intended to be the interceptor companion of the XB-70 bomber. Only two XB70s were built, one crashed during test flights. IIRC, the 70 was a much larger aircraft also capable of Mach 3. (You can see the other -70 at the air museum in Dayton, which IMHO is better than the Smithsonian's museum if your interest is specifically in aircraft.) The Soviets were truly worried about a bomber that could fly at 70000 ft at mach 3. However, we decided that low altitude was a mission the pilots would more likely survive (since radar could be dodged better there) and the XB-70 was cancelled. The SR-71 continued, but in a new role--it occurred to someone that an interceptor had to be fast, true, but it also had to be able to make a turn in a circle that was smaller than a Western state.

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The XB-70 Valkyrie is trully a gorgeous plane. It's really sad it was cancelled.

As a side note, Popular Mechanic this month talks about a projected missile that would be powered by a scramjet and would cruise at Mach 5. For the scramjet to work, the missile needs to be accelerated by a large rocket, but beyond that it would zoom at 1 mile per second... :D:D:D

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