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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SR-71/"The Blackbird" - In early 1960's I saw a strange black plane...my father told me: "You NEVER saw that"...

In early 1960's my father was scheduled for some Saturday overtime at Edwards AFB. One of the highlights of my young life was being allowed to accompany him on 'slow' days.

This Saturday I would see something I would never forget ...and years later I would finally find out what the strange black plane I saw that day really was!!!

As we were driving across the desert to one of the test ranges - I looked out my window just in time to see a huge black plane being towed out of an isolated hanger.
It was the most fantastic airplane I'd ever seen and it's black color really set it apart!
I asked my dad what kind of plane it was.
He looked at me very seriously and said: "You NEVER saw that"

It wasn't until Lyndon Baines Johnson took it upon himself to break national security that I found out that plane was the super secret: SR-71!

It out ran almost 4,000 missles!!!

PART I of the SR-71 Documentary:

From another observer:

In 1968 (1967?) a SR-71 made an emergency landing at Grand Forks AFB and was "parked" between two B-52 hangers close to the N/S road that paralled the base runway. The aircraft was completely visible to anyone using the road. Immediately after landing, GFAFB security established machine gun "nests" close to the plane. The two man crew could not exit the plane until a C-130 arrived from Edwards AFB with the ground support equipment and aircraft technicians to evacuate the crew and "fix" whatever the problem(s) were. Of course, everyone on the base came to see the 71 and security had to control traffic. After the "fixes" were accomplished (two days?), the 71 exited the base heading north. A few minutes later it returned at a very low altitude at tremendous speed in a fly by. It was awesome and was probably witnessed by about everyone on the base.

Eye candy for people who like airplanes

Grab your beverage and relax for a few minutes of awesome beauty. The SR-71 was the creation of Kelly Johnson, Lockheed, Eisenhower and the Air Force. It was envisioned in the '50s, first flew in the early '60s, retired in the '80s, briefly brought back in the '90s.

In all, 13 units of the single seat A-12 were built, and 32 of the Pilot + Recon two seat SR-71 units were built. Five A-12 were lost, one is stored. Twelve two seaters were lost. The remaining 27 are on display around the USA .. The closest is at Atwater , the old Castle AFB museum at Merced with 50 other classic warplanes. You probably have a better opportunity of viewing the one in San Diego . Ask me and I'll tell you where the others are. NY, OR, OH, DC, etc. I can find most answers to most questions. Just ask. Start

with the 2000+ mph, the 80,000 feet + altitude. More if you wish.

So enjoy. One more thing. The author of the captions to the picture in this video made one misstatement, due to youth. The U-2 Recon aircraft was created in 1955, flew operationally in 1956. Kelly thought the USSR would shoot it down in 18 months. Lucky us, it flew until Gary Powers was downed on 1 May 1960.

But Kelly Johnson already had the go-ahead from Ike for the A-12. It first flew in 1962, JFK kept the manufacture of it active. No one told LBJ, 'cause everyone knew he would spill the secret. He wasn't told til the week after JFK left us. And sure enough, LBJ gave out the secret in a matter of months.

Anyhow, the most interesting, most exciting five years of my life were spent in the program, as a KC-135 refueling pilot. Where the Blackbird went, we went. You will see several refuelings in the following.


Click here to view the slideshow:


For the Museum and more information: click HERE


Ratliffs said...

How awesome for you! Thank you so much for posting this! The boys and I had so much fun watching and looking at the pictures!

jarca said...

that plane gives me goosebumps when i see it to this day. what an amazing aircraft for this day and age, let alone when you think about something of that magnitude in that era.
thank you so much for sharing it with us!
and thank you for the fond memories of going to work with dad that we got to experience.

BigDaddy said...

That big black plane has always brought a smile to my face. What an amazing piece of engineering.

~Micah aka. BigDaddy