History of the Blackbirds
Here's the history of the Blackbird program from its inception to retirement. Most information has been compiled from the official CIA history website. The listing isn't complete yet, so bear with us, it's a massive undertaking.

15 Oct 1999

SR-71 Wraps Up Research Series

A 1999 four-flight research series for the SR-71 Blackbird, with a 41-foot-long test fixture mounted atop of the rear section of the aircraft, wrapped up Sept. 27 at Dryden. The flights showed that the fixture barely impacted the SR-71's stability, handling and flying characteristics while soaring at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound. SR-71 Project Manager Steve Schmidt is pleased with the flight series. "It went better than we predicted. Now we will wait for an opportunity, or a customer with a project. There are several in the wings," he said.

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17 Aug 1999

Blackbird Roars Out of Extinction

A tremendous roar thundered over the high desert Monday as the SR-71 spy plane punched through the skies above the Antelope Valley carrying on its back 10,000 pounds of steel, and nearly all hope for its own future. As the engines revved, a seemingly endless stream of searing exhaust contorted the image of Joshua trees in the background. The long, black, ominous frame rolled forward, then up toward the heavens, where, even saddled with a massive testing platform, it easily cruised to Mach 3 -- about 2,000 mph at an altitude of 75,000 feet, or three times the speed of sound.

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1 Aug 1999

Historic SR-71 spy plane flies out of retirement

Thirty-five years ago this December, government officials acknowledged the existence of a top-secret spy plane so technologically advanced, it could fly to the edge of space and cross the continent in an hour flat. The needle-shaped aircraft was powered by massive jet engines that propelled it at 35 miles a minute. Constructed with imported Russian titanium and painted midnight black, it had a sleek, sinister appearance straight out of science fiction. By the time the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was retired by the military in 1989-briefly flying again between 1995 and 1997-it had solidified its place in aviation history for flying faster and higher than any other plane.

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6 Jul 1999

World's Fastest Aircraft, SR-17, Returns to California Sky Again

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., sent its fastest and highest-flying airplane, the SR-71A, into the air for further research flights to evaluate the SR-71's performance, handling and flying qualities with a test fixture mounted atop the aft section of the aircraft. This test fixture was originally used for the Linear Aerospike SR-71 Experiment (LASRE), supporting research for the X-33 program.

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12 May 1999

Push For Revival Of SR-71s Gets Congressional Support

Ten members of Congress are seeking to return to duty the SR-71 Blackbird spy planes, saying the high-flying, triple-supersonic jet would fill a ''gaping hole'' in the nation's intelligence capability at a bargain price. The congressional supporters of the SR-71, which include Rep. Howard P. ''Buck'' McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, asked the House Appropriations Committee to restore funding for the program, without specifying an amount.

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23 Nov 1998

SR-71 Goes into Flyable Storage

From Skunkworks Digest

 

My latest intel is that the B model is to undergo its planned Phase inspection and then go into flyable storage for a year or so. I do not know if it'll be flown on a Functional Check Flight when it comes out of Phase before going into flyable storage.

 

 

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18 Nov 1998

LASRE Model Mounted to SR-71

Presently we have mounted a scale model of the AeroSpike ( X33 access to space vehicle engine ) rocket engine on the top of the SR71. This project is now cancelled.

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30 Oct 1998

SR-71 Permanently Deactivated

Subject: SR-71 TERMINATION

FM HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC//XOI

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