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
BLACKBIRD TITANIUM - BETA Ti 13V 11CR 3Al
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.
Try that with a piece of aluminum or stainless steel.
"The SR-71 BLACKBIRD"
1971 MACKAY TROPHY WINNER
"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.
1972 HARMON INTERNATIONAL TROPHY
"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.