Still the fastest, highest flying, piloted, air-breathing aircraft ever built!
You hardly get a chance to see it coming before it's gone! It moves through the air faster than a 30.06 bullet, "actually about one and a half times as faster than a 30.06 bullet"...What is it? It's the stealth aircraft codenamed: SR-71 BLACKBIRD, and it's the fastest, highest flying, piloted, air-breating aircraft that the United States has ever designed and built. You might be surprised to learn that the SR-71 has been kept such a secret that most people have still not heard of this marvelous aircraft even though it's first flight took place on April 26, 1962. The entire line of A-12 and SR-71 aircraft was built between 1959 and 1965, although modifications to basic airframes were completed later. Without a doubt, the SR-71A is one of the greatest military aircraft ever built and remains an unsurpassed strategic reconnaissance asset.

After the April 26, 1962 flight of the A-12, eighteen A-12's were then ordered and built for the CIA serial (#06924 to #06933) and serial (#06938 to #06941). Numbers (#06934 to 37) were developed into USAF YF-12s and SR-71s. More surprisingly still, the SR-71 Blackbird's #976 last flight took place on March 27, 1990 and SR-71 Blackbird's #958 last flight took place on February 23, 1990 ending more than 25 years of clandestine service.
SKUNK WORKS LOGO
To say that the Blackbird is the product of design genius is an understatement...and not quite accurate. The Blackbird is the product of the collective design genius of Lockheed's famous "Skunk Works", the Advanced Development Projects Group, which gave birth to the U-2, and F-104, among other notable designs. Though the Skunk Works has enjoyed a reputation for innovation and accomplishment, they have not received half the credit due them for their work on the Blackbird. That has been due to the secrecy surrounding it's development and operational use. The Blackbird was designed to operate outside of the limits and boundaries of all other aircraft. So EVERYTHING on the SR-71 had to be special made. Ninety-three percent of the airframe was made from titanium composite so that it could expand during flight. The former Soviet Union had the largest sources of titanium, so the CIA set up companies all over the world to buy the titanium that they needed from them. The component parts of the Blackbird fit very loosely together to allow for expansion at high temperatures. At rest on the ground, fuel leaks out constantly, since the tanks in the fuselage and wings only seal at operating temperatures. There is little danger of fire since the JP-7 fuel is very stable with an extremely high flash point. Lockheed's "Skunk Works" has given us still another leathal stealth aircraft, which has already proven itself quite effective, the F-117 Stealth fighter.
I saw my first SR-71A BLACKBIRD #959 at the Armament Museum while visiting the Elgin Air Force Base in Florida, 1981. My second SR-71B BLACKIRD #956 was viewed at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, 2005. "If any of you are planning a trip to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, you will be very disappointed with the lighting inside the museum, especially where the Blackbird is located. It was like being inside a cave and taking pictures! I shot a whole roll of film on the SR-71B, and only 5 pictures came out - and that's only because I ran them through my photo program. I was very disappointed after paying a $20.00 admission price. One of the worst air museums I have ever been too."
SR-71B # 956 - PILOT & SRO COCKPITS
SR-71B # 956 - PILOT & SRO COCKPITS
SR-71B #956 - TAIL IDENTIFICATION
Front landing gear on the SR-71B #956
Front landing gear on the SR-71B #956
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