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".

01 September 1974

SR-71 Blackbird - Speed over Recognized Course - New York to London

On September 1, 1974 Major James V. Sullivan, 37 (pilot) and Noel F. Widdifield, 33 (reconnaissance systems officer), flashed across the starting line (radar gates in New York) at approximately 80,000 feet and speed in excess of 2,000 miles per hour. Exactly 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds later, they had set a new world speed record from New York to London England. 

01 September 1974

SR-71 Blackbird - Distance Speed Record - London to Los Angeles

A historic speed record was set on the return trip to the United States. Capt Harold B. Adams, 31 (pilot), and Major William Machorek, 32 (reconnaissance systems operator), set a speed record from London to Los Angeles. 

28 July 1976

SR-71 Blackbird - Absolute Speed Record - Manned Aircraft

On 28 July 1976, SR-71 serial number 61-7958 set an absolute speed record of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h), approximately Mach 3.3.

28 July 1976

SR-71 Blackbird - Absolute Altitude (Sustained Flight) - Manned Aircraft

The SR-71 was the world's fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its career. On 28 July 1976, SR-71 serial number 61-7962, piloted by then Captain Robert Helt, broke the world record: an "absolute altitude record" of 85,069 feet (25,929 m).

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