SR-71 Blackbird

I’ve always been a big airplane fan. Like most kids I dreamed of joining the Air Force (American of course, I wanted to fly A-10’s), but my rather limited eyesite made the dream stay just that. But I can still tell you what kind of fighter jet just flew by based on its silhouette.

One of the most fascinating airplanes is the SR-71 Blackbird, a small but incredibly fast reconnaissance plane, capable at flying 3.2 times the speed of sound at a height of 85,000 feet. That’s almost in space! This plane was the nemesis of the Soviet Air Force, they didn’t stand a chance of catching it even if one were to fly across Moscow. The SR-71 program was closed in 2001.

If you ever go to New York, there’s a museum on the Hudson River that has an old aircraft carrier parked in the river. On the deck they have one of almost every kind of airplane the US Armed Forces has flown, including a Blackbird. What struck me was how small the plane actually was. Pictures in books made it look very large. In reality the fuselage is at eye height, and it looks tiny, especially sitting next to the Navy’s F-14.

In any case, the SR-71 flight manual is now online at Weird that the same document the Russians would have done anything to see 20 years ago is now public domain.

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