The SR-71 Blackbird

The USAF SR-71 Blackbird Program

The SR-71 Blackbird has a long and distinguished career during it's operations for the USAF. 

 

In December 1962, the Air Force ordered six “reconnaissance/strike” aircraft for high-speed, high-altitude flights over hostile territory after a nuclear attack—hence its original designator RS. Compared to the A-12, the SR-71 was about six feet longer, weighed 15,000 pounds more fully loaded, had more prominent nose and body chines and a two-seat cockpit, and carried additional optical and radar imagery systems and ELINT sensors in interchangeable noses.

SR-71 Blackbird - 1971 Mackay Trophy
26 April 1971

SR-71 Blackbird - 1971 Mackay Trophy

On 26 April 1971, SR-17 Blackbird, 61-7968, flown by majors Thomas B. Estes and Dewain C. Vick, flew over 15,000 miles (24,000 km) in 10 hours and 30 minutes. This flight was awarded the 1971 Mackay Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year" and the 1972 Harmon Trophy for "most outstanding international achievement in the art/science of aeronautics".

SR-71 Middle East 'Giant Reach' Sorties
13 October 1973

SR-71 Middle East 'Giant Reach' Sorties

Pilot Jim Shelton and RSO Gary Coleman in #979, departed Griffiss AFB on the first of a series of flights to the Middle East.

Red Engine Light Over Israel
11 November 1973

Red Engine Light Over Israel

Pilot Jim Wilson's account of the 12,000 mile mission that almost never was.

Diego Garcia Operations
01 July 1980

Diego Garcia Operations

SR-71 Operations were conducted for a short time in 1978/79 at Diego Garcia. One of the SR-71 shelters at Beale AFB was dismantled and shipped to the coral island and then reassembled for use by the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. 

Mildenhall, England Det 4 Operations
05 April 1982

Mildenhall, England Det 4 Operations

On 05 April of 1982 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced that Det 4 would be a permanent SR-71 Detachment with two aircraft assigned. The United Kingdom remained in control of the more sensitive missions. The two aircraft Detachment ceased operations on 22 November 1989. The last aircraft departed the UK on 18 January 1990. The U.S. Government has given the United Kingdom an SR-71 #962 for public display at Duxford Imperial War Museum for it's contribution to ending the Cold War.

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