Blackbird Aircraft Stories

Here are the famous stories told by SR-71 pilots. Yes, the fastest speed over the West Coast is here. But you might find that the 'Slowest Flyby' is as thrilling.

Mach 3.5 Over Libya

by Major Brian Shul
Mach 3.5 Over Libya

In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers in a Berlin disco, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi's terrorist camps in Libya. My duty was to fly over Libya and take photos recording the damage our F-111's had inflicted. Qaddafi had established a 'line of death,' a territorial marking across the Gulf of Sidra, swearing to shoot down any intruder that crossed the boundary. On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at 2,125 mph.

The Day a SR-71 Blackbird Drag Cute Door Came Off at Mach 1.5

The Day a SR-71 Blackbird Drag Cute Door Came Off at Mach 1.5

In January 1984 a rare incident occurred when  the SR-71 Blackbird  drag chute doors opened inadvertently at high Mach, creating problems, as RSO Lt. Col. Curt Osterheld (Ret) explains in Col. Richard H. Graham’s book The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird:

 

Crippled SR-71 In Emergency Intercepted By Four Swedish Viggens After Violating Sweden’s Airspace

During the 1980s, the U.S. flew regular SR-71 Blackbird aircraft reconnaissance missions in international waters over the Barents Sea and the Baltic Sea, the latter known as “Baltic Express” missions. On June 29, 1987, during one of those missions, a Blackbird launched from RAF Mildenhall, UK, piloted by retired Lt. Cols. Duane Noll and Tom Veltri, experienced a pretty serious inflight emergency.

Audio - Sacramento Tower Flyby

Audio - Sacramento Tower Flyby

Great story told by SR-71 Pilot Maury Rosenberg

Speed Check

Major Brian Shul, USAF Retired
Speed Check

There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

The Slowest Flyby

The Slowest Flyby

As a former SR-71 pilot, and a professional keynote speaker, the question I'm most often asked is "How fast would that SR-71 fly?" I can be assured of hearing that question several times at any event I attend. It's an interesting question, given the aircraft's proclivity for speed, but there really isn’t one number to give, as the jet would always give you a little more speed if you wanted it to.

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