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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

SR-71 is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than 90 locomotives

EACH OF THE SR-71 ENGINES PRODUCES THE POWER OF 45 LOCOMOTIVES!  The muzzle velocity of a high powered, 30-06 rifle bullet is 2910 feet per second.  The Blackbird can fly at 3226 feet per second.  Of course that bullet starts to slow down as soon as it leaves the rifle barrel.  The Blackbird continues to fly at MACH 3+ and then accelerates faster.

You’re nearly nineteen miles above the Earth, ripping through the upper stratosphere at three and a half times the speed of sound.

You’re keen concentration makes seconds seem like minutes. Like some sort of futuristic Cyborg. You are the processing unit controlling a 107 foot long, 170,000 pound titanium machine.

Atmospheric frictional loads heat the crafts surfaces beyond 1000 degrees F.  Your “alien like” propulsion systems blast exhaust afterburner flames 150 feet out and stress the systems exotic alloys with 68,000 pounds of thrust at 3,200 degrees F.

The physiological support systems along with your astronaut space suit keep your bodily fluids from evaporating away in a boiling instant.

You are driving not a futuristic star cruiser but the sleek black, air breathing, turbo ram jet powered, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

America’s, United States Air Force, super secret reconnaissance aircraft.

In 1962, The Director of the CIA, Richard Helms recalled a midnight test flight in the Nevada desert, later wrote: “The blast of flame that sent the black, insect-shaped projectile hurtling across the tarmac made me duck instinctively. It was as if the Devil himself were blasting his way straight from Hell”.

Even today as the few remaining Blackbirds stand on display they command jaw dropping disbelief and breathtaking stares.

As an SR-71, Code 42 Machinist, I was part of a select, elite team that flew, maintained, and provided operations for our nations classified surveillance program. I was privileged, humbled, and awed at the opportunity to be part of, work, and maintain these magnificent marvels of aviation.

The one thing that I wish I could covey to SR-71 fans now and in the future would be the experience to feel the Earth shaking rumble of the SR-71 Blackbirds.  
Dan Freeman, TSgt, USAF (Ret)  Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Solution treated and artificially aged to refine the predominant phases within its microstructure.

The result was a super alloy with characteristics far beyond Earthly materials allowing for the creation of the World’s most incredible aircraft.

This photo shows me holding in my bare hand a small shard of SR-71 Titanium, glowing RED HOT!
Try that with a piece of aluminum or stainless steel.





"Most meritorious flight of the year"

April 26, 1971

SR-71A, 61-7968 was flown 15,000 miles non-stop in 10-1/2 hours.

"Most outstanding international achievement in the art / science of aeronautics"

July 27 / 28, 1976
3 SR-71's flown by 3 different crews set 7 world speed and altitude records.

100KM Closed Course at 2092 MPH / Altitude Record of 85,068.997 FT / 15 & 25 Straight Course at 2193 MPH


6 March 1990

SR-71A, 61-7972 set 4 speed records on its last flight to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
US Coast to Coast (2086 Nmi); 67 minutes 54 seconds at 2124.5 MPH.
Los Angeles to Washington DC (1998 Nmi); 64 minutes 54 seconds at 2144.8 MPH.
Kansas City to Washington DC (942.08 Nmi); 25 minutes 58.53 seconds at 2176 MPH.
St. Louis to Cincinnati (311.44 Nmi); 8 minutes 31.97 seconds at 2189.94 MPH.

On Sept. 1, 1974, SR-71A, 61-7972 flew from New York to London in
1 hour, 54 minutes, 56 seconds, smashing the previous trans-Atlantic speed record by nearly three hours!

Returning to the U.S. on Sept. 13, 1974, #972 established a world speed record of
3 hours, 47 minutes, 36 seconds for the 5,463 mile (8,790 km) flight from London to Los Angeles.

It outraced the sun, landing some four hours before the time of day it took off.

This is the mighty Blackbird's exhaust nozzle

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing proudly displays her heritage.
The men and women at Beale AFB did a fantastic job refurbishing SR-71A, 61-7963.

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ed Price
Entered on:

Now let's see. The Blackbird was flying as far back as the early to mid '60s. Nobody ever stops R & D.

At higher, cooler altitudes, speed must be increased to "scoop" in enough not-so-easily-burnable air to burn with the fuel.

With advances in technology since the '60s, more than likely, rocket power would have been added to the Blackbird to be used at altitudes too high for any usable air to be found.

The result is, that moving at a tangent to the earth's gravitational pull, a rocket-assist powered Blackbird would be able to make it into outer space beyond the atmosphere, perhaps beyond the gravitational pull of earth. And then it could come back again.

More than likely, the whole space shuttle program was camouflage to cover up the fact that a later design of the SR-71 was making regular flights into space, to the moon, and maybe beyond.

Comment by Dan Freeman
Entered on:

Yes, that's correct we will never know the Blackbird's "Posted" speed limit. Why? because it really doesn't have one. 

The Blackbird's design speed is regulated by the pilot not to exceed the parameters as regulated by the propulsion systems Inlet air temperature.

That temperature was set at 427 degrees. The temperatures of the airframe exceeded 1100 degrees at cruise and the dynamic atmospheric environment at MACH 3+ at the edge of space created those temperatures by atmospheric frictional loads.

Now consider that as the aircraft flew higher the air becomes thinner and results in less friction. This also effects the air on the flight control surfaces.

The Blackbird's inlet produced better than sea level air pressure at 80,000 ft. That's why when the aircraft was running low on fuel the course of action was to speed up.

Pilot "Unofficial" reports during evasive maneuvers from SA-5 missiles stated that as the aircraft pushed past MACH 3.5 the ride became very smooth and felt as if could go faster.

Many factors must be considered such as over shooting refueling tanker support, damage to the airframe, etc.



Comment by Morpheus Titania
Entered on:

Of course we may never know how fast it REALLY was, its classified.

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