Man Made Birds

SR-71 Blackbird

SR71 Blackbird: Photo Courtesy Lockheed Martin Corporation

SR71 Blackbird: Photo Courtesy Lockheed Martin Corporation

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft. The SR-71 was unofficially named the Blackbird.

A defensive feature of the aircraft was its high speed and operating altitude, whereby, if a surface-to-air missile launch were detected, standard evasive action was simply to accelerate. The SR-71 line was in service from 1964 to 1998.

SR71 Blackbird

SR71 Blackbird

On September 1, 1974 Major James V. Sullivan, 37 (pilot) and Noel F. Widdifield, 33 (reconnaissance systems officer), crossed the starting line (radar gates in New York) at approximately 80,000 feet going excess of 2,000 miles per hour. Exactly 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds later, they had set a new world speed record from New York to London England. The average speed was 1,807 statute mph over the 3,461 statute mile course, slowing to refuel one time from a specially modified KC-135 refueling tanker.

A second historic speed record was set on the return trip to the United States. Capt Harold B. Adams, 31 (pilot), and Major William Machorek, 32 (reconnaissance systems operator), set a speed record from London to Los Angeles. They returned the Blackbird 5,447 statute miles in 3 hours 47 minutes and 39 seconds for an average speed of 1,435 miles per hour. The two speed records were different due to refueling requirements and having to slow down over major US cities. Even slowong down caused a large number of people in Los Angeles to report broken windows due to the sonic boom.

SR71 Blackbird - Photo Credit: Ad Meskens

SR71 Blackbird - Photo Credit: Ad Meskens

 

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When you soar like an eagle, you attract the hunters.

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