Open Access Articles- Top Results for Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

"SR-71" redirects here. For other uses, see SR-71 (disambiguation).
#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.- #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. colspan="2" align="center" #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.Dryden's SR-71B Blackbird, NASA 831, slices across the snow-covered southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California after being refueled by an Air Force tanker during a 1994 flight. SR-71B was the trainer version of the SR-71. The dual cockpit to allow the instructor to fly. Note the streaks of fuel from refueling spillage. </div> #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.- #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.colspan="2" style="border-bottom: 1px solid #aaa;text-align:left;" #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.An SR-71B trainer over the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1994. The raised second cockpit is for the instructor. #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-
SR-71 "Blackbird"

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Strategic reconnaissance aircraft #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-


#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Lockheed, Skunk Works division #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-


#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Clarence "Kelly" Johnson #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

First flight

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 22 December 1964 #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-


#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 1966 #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-


#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 1998 (USAF), 1999 (NASA) #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-


#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Retired #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Primary users

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. United States Air Force
NASA #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Number built

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. 32 #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

Developed from

#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect. Lockheed A-12 #REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.-

The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a long-range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft that was operated by the United States Air Force.[1] It was developed as a black project from the Lockheed A-12 reconnaissance aircraft in the 1960s by Lockheed and its Skunk Works division. Renowned American aerospace engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the design's innovative concepts. During aerial reconnaissance missions, the SR-71 operated at high speeds and altitudes to allow it to outrace threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate and outfly the missile.[2] The SR-71 was designed to have basic stealth characteristics and served as a precursor to future stealth aircraft.

The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. A total of 32 aircraft were built; 12 were lost in accidents and none lost to enemy action.[3][4] The SR-71 has been given several nicknames, including Blackbird and Habu.[5] It has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft since 1976; this record was previously held by the related Lockheed YF-12.[6][7][8]



Lockheed's previous reconnaissance aircraft was the relatively slow U-2, designed for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The 1960 downing of Francis Gary Powers's U-2 underscored the aircraft's vulnerability and the need for faster reconnaissance aircraft. The CIA turned again to Kelly Johnson and Lockheed's Skunk Works, who developed the A-12 [9] and would go on to build upon its design concepts for the SR-71. The Flight Test Engineer in charge was Joseph F. Ware, Jr.[10][importance?]

The A-12 first flew at Groom Lake (Area 51), Nevada, on 25 April 1962. Thirteen were built; two variants were also developed, including three YF-12A interceptor prototypes, and two M-21 drone carrier variants. The aircraft was meant to be powered by the Pratt & Whitney J58 engine, but development ran over schedule, and it was equipped instead with the less powerful Pratt & Whitney J75. The J58s were retrofitted as they became available, and became the standard powerplant for all subsequent aircraft in the series (A-12, YF-12, M-21) as well as the SR-71. The A-12 flew missions over Vietnam and North Korea before its retirement in 1968. The program's cancellation was announced on 28 December 1966,[11] due both to budget concerns [12] and because of the forthcoming SR-71.


File:SR71 factoryfloor SkunkWorks.jpg
SR-71 Blackbird assembly line at Skunk Works

The SR-71 designator is a continuation of the pre-1962 bomber series; the last aircraft built using the series was the XB-70 Valkyrie; however, a bomber variant of the Blackbird was briefly given the B-71 designator, which was retained when the type was changed to SR-71.[13]

During the later period of its testing, the B-70 was proposed for a reconnaissance/strike role, with an RS-70 designation. When it was clear that the A-12 performance potential was much greater, the Air Force ordered a variant of the A-12 in December 1962.[14] Originally named R-12[N 1] by Lockheed, the Air Force version was longer and heavier than the A-12, with a longer fuselage to hold more fuel, two seats in the cockpit, and reshaped chines. Reconnaissance equipment included signals intelligence sensors, a side looking airborne radar and a photo camera.[14] The CIA's A-12 was a better photo reconnaissance platform than the Air Force's R-12, since the A-12 flew somewhat higher and faster,[12] and with only one pilot it had room to carry a superior camera[12] and more instruments.[15]

During the 1964 campaign, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater repeatedly criticized President Lyndon B. Johnson and his administration for falling behind the Soviet Union in developing new weapons. Johnson decided to counter this criticism by revealing the existence of the Lockheed YF-12A Air Force interceptor, which also served as cover for the still-secret A-12,[16] and the Air Force reconnaissance model since July 1964. Air Force Chief of Staff General Curtis LeMay preferred the SR (Strategic Reconnaissance) designation and wanted the RS-71 to be named SR-71. Before the July speech, LeMay lobbied to modify Johnson's speech to read SR-71 instead of RS-71. The media transcript given to the press at the time still had the earlier RS-71 designation in places, creating the story that the president had misread the aircraft's designation.[17][N 2]

In 1968, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara canceled the F-12 interceptor program; the specialized tooling used to manufacture both the YF-12 and the SR-71 was also ordered destroyed.[18] Production of the SR-71 totaled 32 aircraft with 29 SR-71As, 2 SR-71Bs, and the single SR-71C.[19]



File:SR-71 flight instruments.triddle.jpg
The flight instrumentation of an SR-71's cockpit

The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO) monitoring the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit.[20] The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design.[21] Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's call sign "Blackbird".

While the SR-71 carried radar countermeasures to evade interception efforts, its greatest protection was its high speed and cruising altitude that made it almost invulnerable to the weapons of its day. Merely accelerating would typically be enough to evade a surface-to-air missile,[2] and the plane was faster than the Soviet Union's principal interceptor, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25.[22] The MiG-25's successor, the MiG-31, was able to intercept the SR-71, as it was capable of Mach 2.8 and armed with the Mach 4.5 R-33 missile. SR-71 overflights of the USSR ceased following MiG-31 intercepts in the mid-1980s.[23][24][25] Nonetheless, during its service life, no SR-71 was shot down.[3]

Airframe, canopy and landing gear

On most aircraft, use of titanium was limited by the costs involved; it was generally used only in components exposed to the highest temperatures, such as exhaust fairings and the leading edges of wings. On the SR-71, titanium was used for 85% of the structure, with much of the rest polymer composite materials.[26] To control costs, Lockheed used a more easily worked titanium alloy which softened at a lower temperature.[N 3] The challenges posed led Lockheed to develop new fabrication methods, and have since been used in the manufacture of other aircraft. Welding titanium requires distilled water, as the chlorine present in tap water is corrosive; cadmium-plated tools could not be used as they also caused corrosion.[27] Metallurgical contamination was another problem; at one point 80% of the delivered titanium for manufacture was rejected on these grounds.[28][29]

The high temperatures generated inflight required special design and operating techniques. Major portions of the skin of the inboard wings were corrugated, not smooth. Aerodynamicists initially opposed the concept, disparagingly referring to the aircraft as a Mach 3 variant of the 1920s-era Ford Trimotor, known for its corrugated aluminum skin.[30] The heat would have caused a smooth skin to split or curl, whereas the corrugated skin could expand vertically and horizontally and increased longitudinal strength.

Fuselage panels were manufactured to only loosely fit on the ground. Proper alignment was achieved as the airframe heated up and expanded several inches.[31] Because of this, and the lack of a fuel sealing system that could handle the airframe's expansion at extreme temperatures, the aircraft leaked JP-7 fuel on the ground prior to takeoff.[32]

The outer windscreen of the cockpit was made of quartz and was fused ultrasonically to the titanium frame.[citation needed] The temperature of the exterior of the windscreen reached Script error: No such module "convert". during a mission.[33]

Cooling was carried out by cycling fuel behind the titanium surfaces in the chines. On landing, the canopy temperature was over Script error: No such module "convert"..[30] The red stripes on some SR-71s were to prevent maintenance workers from damaging the skin. Near the center of the fuselage, the curved skin was thin and delicate, with no support from the structural ribs, which were spaced several feet apart.[34]

The Blackbird's tires, manufactured by B.F. Goodrich, contained aluminum and were filled with nitrogen. They cost $2,300 and did not last 20 missions. The Blackbird landed at over 170 knots and deployed a drag parachute to stop; the chute also acted to reduce stress on the tires.[35]

Shape and threat avoidance

File:Sr71 1.jpg
Water vapor is condensed by the low-pressure vortices generated by the chines outboard of each engine inlet.

The first operational aircraft designed around a stealth aircraft shape and materials, the SR-71 had several features designed to reduce its radar signature. The SR-71 had a radar cross-section (RCS) of around 10 square meters.[36] Drawing on early studies in radar stealth technology, which indicated that a shape with flattened, tapering sides would reflect most energy away from a radar beam's place of origin, engineers added chines and canted the vertical control surfaces inward. Special radar-absorbing materials were incorporated into sawtooth-shaped sections of the aircraft's skin. Cesium-based fuel additives were used to somewhat reduce exhaust plumes visibility to radar, although exhaust streams remained quite apparent. Kelly Johnson later conceded that Soviet radar technology advanced faster than the stealth technology employed against it.[37]

The SR-71 featured chines, a pair of sharp edges leading aft from either side of the nose along the fuselage. These were not a feature on the early A-3 design; Dr. Frank Rodgers of the Scientific Engineering Institute, a CIA front organization, discovered that a cross-section of a sphere had a greatly reduced radar reflection, and adapted a cylindrical-shaped fuselage by stretching out the sides of the fuselage.[38] After the advisory panel provisionally selected Convair's FISH design over the A-3 on the basis of RCS, Lockheed adopted chines for its A-4 through A-6 designs.[39]

Aerodynamicists discovered that the chines generated powerful vortices and created additional lift, leading to unexpected aerodynamic performance improvements.[40] The angle of incidence of the delta wings could be reduced for greater stability and less drag at high speeds, and more weight carried, such as fuel. Landing speeds were also reduced, as the chines' vortices created turbulent flow over the wings at high angles of attack, making it harder to stall. The chines also acted like leading-edge extensions, which increase the agility of fighters such as the F-5, F-16, F/A-18, MiG-29 and Su-27. The addition of chines also enabled the removal of the planned canard foreplanes.[N 4][41][42]

Air inlets

File:SR71 J58 Engine Airflow Patterns.svg
Operation of the air inlets and air flow patterns through the J58

The air inlets allowed the SR-71 to cruise at over Mach 3.2 while keeping airflow into the engines at the initial subsonic speeds. Mach 3.2 was the design point for the aircraft, its most efficient speed.[30] At the front of each inlet, a pointed, movable cone called a "spike" (Inlet cone) was locked in its full forward position on the ground and during subsonic flight. When the aircraft accelerated past Mach 1.6, an internal jackscrew moved the spike up to Script error: No such module "convert". inwards,[43] directed by an analog air inlet computer that took into account pitot-static system, pitch, roll, yaw, and angle of attack. Moving the spike tip drew the shock wave riding on it closer to the inlet cowling until it touched just slightly inside the cowling lip. This position reflected the spike shock-wave repeatedly between the spike centerbody and the inlet inner cowl sides, and minimized airflow spillage which is the cause of spillage drag. The air slowed supersonically with a final plane shock wave at entry to the subsonic diffuser.[44]

Downstream of this normal shock the air is subsonic. It decelerates further in the divergent duct to give the required speed at entry to the compressor. Capture of the plane shock wave within the inlet is called "Starting the Inlet". Bleed tubes and bypass doors were designed into the inlet and engine nacelles to handle some of this pressure and to position the final shock to allow the inlet to remain "started". The SR-71 was sometimes more efficient at speeds higher than Mach 3.2 in terms of pounds of fuel burned per nautical mile traveled, depending on outside air temperature. During one mission, SR-71 pilot Brian Shul flew faster than usual to avoid multiple interception attempts; afterwards, it was discovered that this had reduced fuel consumption.[45]

In the early years of operation, the analog computers would not always keep up with rapidly changing flight environmental inputs. If internal pressures became too great and the spike was incorrectly positioned, the shock wave would suddenly blow out the front of the inlet, called an "Inlet Unstart". During unstarts afterburner extinctions were common. The remaining engine's asymmetrical thrust would cause the aircraft to yaw violently to one side. SAS, autopilot, and manual control inputs would fight the yawing, but often the extreme off-angle would reduce airflow in the opposite engine and stimulate "sympathetic stalls". This generated a rapid counter-yawing, often coupled with loud "banging" noises, and a rough ride during which crews' helmets would sometimes strike their cockpit canopies.[46] One response to a single unstart was unstarting both inlets to prevent yawing, then restarting them both.[47] Lockheed later installed an electronic control to detect unstart conditions and perform this reset action without pilot intervention.[48] Beginning in 1980, the analog inlet control system was replaced by a digital system, which reduced unstart instances.[49]


Main article: Pratt & Whitney J58
File:Pratt & Whitney J58.jpg
A Pratt & Whitney J58 (JT11D-20) engine on open display
File:AG330 start cart.JPG
A preserved AG330 start cart

The SR-71 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney J58 (company designation JT11D-20) axial-flow turbo-jet engines. The J58 was a considerable innovation of the era, capable of producing a static thrust of 32,500 lbf (145 kN).[50][51] The engine was most efficient around Mach 3.2,[52] the Blackbird's typical cruising speed. At lower speeds, the turbojet provided most of the compression. At higher speeds, the engine largely ceased to provide thrust, the afterburner taking its place.[50]

Air was initially compressed (and heated) by the inlet spike and subsequent converging duct between the centerbody and inlet cowl. The shock waves generated slowed the air to subsonic speeds relative to the engine. The air then entered the engine compressor. Some of this compressor flow (20% at cruise) was removed after the 4th compressor stage and went straight to the afterburner through six bypass tubes. Air passing through the turbojet was compressed further by the remaining 5 compressor stages and then fuel was added in the combustion chamber. After passing through the turbine the exhaust, together with the compressor bleed air, entered the afterburner.[53]

At around Mach 3, the temperature rise from the intake compression, added to the engine compressor temperature rise, reduced the allowable fuel flow because the turbine temperature limit did not change. The rotating machinery produced less power but still enough to run at 100% RPM, thus keeping the airflow through the intake constant. The rotating machinery had become a drag item[54] and the engine thrust at high speeds came from the afterburner temperature rise.[55] Maximum flight speed was limited by the temperature of the air entering the engine compressor, which was not certified for temperatures above 800 °F (427 °C).[56]

Originally, the Blackbird's J58 engines were started with the assistance of two Buick Wildcat V8 internal combustion engines, externally mounted on a vehicle referred to as an AG330 "start cart". The start cart was positioned underneath the J58 and the two Buick engines powered a single, vertical drive shaft connecting to the J58 engine and spinning it to above 3,200 revolutions per minute at which point the turbojet could self-sustain. Once the first J58 engine was started, the cart was repositioned to the other side of the aircraft to start the other J58 engine. Later start carts used Chevrolet big-block V8 engines. Eventually, a quieter, pneumatic start system was developed for use at main operating bases; the V8 start carts remained at diversion landing sites not equipped with the pneumatic system.[57]


File:Boeing KC-135Q refueling SR-71.JPEG
An SR-71 refueling from a KC-135Q Stratotanker during a flight in 1983

Several exotic fuels were investigated for the Blackbird. Development began on a coal slurry powerplant, but Johnson determined that the coal particles damaged important engine components.[30] Research was conducted on a liquid hydrogen powerplant, but the tanks for storing cryogenic hydrogen were not of a suitable size or shape.[30] In practice, the Blackbird would burn somewhat conventional JP-7 which was difficult to light. To start the engines, triethylborane (TEB), which ignites on contact with air, was injected to produce temperatures high enough to ignite the JP-7. The TEB produced a characteristic green flame, which could often be seen during engine ignition.[45]

On a typical SR-71 mission the plane took off with only a partial fuel load to reduce stress on the brakes and tires during takeoff and also ensure the plane could still successfully take off should one engine fail. As a result planes were typically refueled immediately after takeoff.[32] The SR-71 also required in-flight refueling to replenish fuel during long duration missions. Supersonic flights generally lasted no more than 90 minutes before the pilot had to find a tanker.[58]

Specialized KC-135Q tankers were required to refuel the SR-71. The KC-135Q had a modified high-speed boom, which would allow refueling of the Blackbird at nearly the tanker's maximum airspeed with minimum flutter. The tanker also had special fuel systems for moving JP-4 (for the KC-135Q itself) and JP-7 (for the SR-71) between different tanks.[59] As an aid to the pilot when refueling, the cockpit was fitted with a peripheral vision horizon display (PVHD). This unusual instrument displayed a barely-visible artificial horizon, which gave the pilot subliminal cues on aircraft attitude.[60]

Astro-Inertial Navigation System

The USAF sought a precision navigation system for maintaining route accuracy and target tracking at very high speeds.[citation needed] Nortronics, Northrop Corporation's electronics development division, had developed an astro-inertial guidance system (ANS), which could correct Inertial navigation system errors with celestial observations, for the SM-62 Snark missile, and a separate system for the ill-fated AGM-48 Skybolt missile, the latter of which was adapted for the SR-71.[61][verification needed]

Before takeoff, a primary alignment brought the ANS's inertial components to a high degree of accuracy. In flight, the ANS, which sat behind the Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO)'s position, tracked stars through a circular quartz glass window on the upper fuselage.[45] Its "blue light" source star tracker, which could see stars during both day and night, would continuously track a variety of stars as the aircraft's changing position brought them into view. The system's digital computer ephemeris contained data on 56 (later 61) stars.[62] The ANS could supply altitude and position to flight controls and other systems, including the Mission Data Recorder, Auto-Nav steering to preset destination points, automatic pointing and control of cameras and sensors, and optical or SLR sighting of fix points loaded into the ANS before takeoff. According to Richard Graham, a former SR-71 pilot, the navigation system was good enough to limit drift to 1,000 feet off the direction of travel at Mach 3.[63]

Sensors and payloads

File:SR-71 Defensive System B.jpg
The SR-71 Defensive System B

The SR-71 originally included optical/infrared imagery systems; side looking airborne radar (SLAR); electronic intelligence (ELINT) gathering systems; defensive systems for countering missile and airborne fighters; and recorders for SLAR, ELINT and maintenance data.[citation needed] The SR-71 carried a Fairchild tracking camera and an HRB Singer infrared camera, both of which ran during the entire mission for route documentation, to respond to any accusations of overflight.[citation needed]

As the SR-71 had an observer behind the pilot, it could not use the A-12's principal sensor, a single large-focal-length optical camera that sat in the "Q-Bay" behind the cockpit. Instead, camera systems could be located either in the wing chines or the interchangeable nose. Wide-area imaging was provided by two of Itek's Operational Objective Cameras (OOCs), which provided stereo imagery across the width of the flight track, or an Itek Optical Bar Camera (OBC), which gave continuous horizon-to horizon coverage. A closer view of the target area was given by the HYCON Technical Objective Camera (TEOC), that could be directed up to 45 degrees left or right of the centerline.[64] Initially, the TEOCs could not match the resolution of the A-12's larger camera, but rapid improvements in both the camera and film improved this performance.[64][65]

Side-looking radar, built by Goodyear Aerospace, could be carried in the removable nose. In later life, the radar was replaced by Loral's Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar System (ASARS-1). Both the first SLR and ASARS-1 were ground-mapping imaging systems, collecting data either in fixed swaths left or right of centerline or from a spot location for higher resolution.[64] ELINT-gathering systems, called the Electro Magnetic Reconnaissance System (EMR), built by AIL could be carried in the chine bays to analyse electronic signal fields being passed through, and were pre-programmed to identify items of interest.[64][66]

Over its operational life, the Blackbird carried various electronic countermeasures, including warning and active electronic systems built by several ECM companies and called Systems A, A2, A2C, B, C, C2, E, G, H and M. On a given mission, an aircraft would carry several of these frequency/purpose payloads to meet the expected threats. Major Jerry Crew, a Reconnaissance Systems Officer, told Air & Space that he used a jammer to try to confuse Surface to Air Missile sites as their crews tracked his airplane, but once his threat warning receiver told him a missile had been launched, he switched off the jammer to prevent the missile from homing in on its signal.[67][citation needed] After landing, recording systems and gathered information from the SLR and ELINT systems, and the Maintenance Data Recorder (MDR) were subjected to post-flight ground analysis. In the later years of its operational life, a data-link system could send ASARS-1 and ELINT data from about Script error: No such module "convert". of track coverage to a suitably equipped ground station.[citation needed]

Life support

Flying at Script error: No such module "convert". meant that crews could not use standard masks, which could not provide enough oxygen above Script error: No such module "convert".. Specialized protective pressurized suits were produced by the David Clark Company for the A-12, YF-12, M-21 and SR-71. Furthermore, an emergency ejection at Mach 3.2 would subject crews to temperatures of about Script error: No such module "convert".; thus, during a high altitude ejection scenario, an onboard oxygen supply would keep the suit pressurized during the descent.[68]

The cockpit could be pressurized to an altitude of Script error: No such module "convert". during flight.[69] The cabin needed a heavy-duty cooling system, for cruising at Mach 3.2 would heat the aircraft's external surface well beyond Script error: No such module "convert".[70] and the inside of the windshield to Script error: No such module "convert".. An air conditioner used a heat exchanger to dump heat from the cockpit into the fuel prior to combustion.[citation needed] The same air conditioning system was also used to keep the front (nose) landing gear bay cool, thereby eliminating the need for the special aluminum-impregnated tires on the main landing gear.[71]

Operational history

Main era

The first flight of an SR-71 took place on 22 December 1964, at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California.[72] The SR-71 reportedly reached a top speed of Mach 3.4 during flight testing.[73][verification needed] The first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, in January 1966.[74]

SR-71s first arrived at the 9th SRW's Operating Location (OL-8) at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa on 8 March 1968.[75] These deployments were code named "Glowing Heat", while the program as a whole was code named "Senior Crown". Reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam were code named "Giant Scale". On 21 March 1968, Major (later General) Jerome F. O'Malley and Major Edward D. Payne flew the first operational SR-71 sortie in SR-71 serial number 61-7976 from Kadena AB, Okinawa.[75] During its career, this aircraft (976) accumulated 2,981 flying hours and flew 942 total sorties (more than any other SR-71), including 257 operational missions, from Beale AFB; Palmdale, California; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan; and RAF Mildenhall, UK. The aircraft was flown to the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio in March 1990.

From the beginning of the Blackbird's reconnaissance missions over enemy territory (North Vietnam, Laos, etc.) in 1968, the SR-71s averaged approximately one sortie a week for nearly two years. By 1970, the SR-71s were averaging two sorties per week, and by 1972, they were flying nearly one sortie every day. Two SR-71s were lost during these missions, one in 1970 and the second aircraft in 1972, both due to mechanical malfunctions.[76][77]

While deployed in Okinawa, the SR-71s and their aircrew members gained the nickname Habu (as did the A-12s preceding them) after a pit viper indigenous to Japan, which the Okinawans thought the plane resembled.[5]

Swedish Air Force fighter pilots, using the predictable patterns of SR-71 routine flights over the Baltic Sea, managed to lock their radar on the SR-71 on numerous occasions. Despite heavy jamming from the SR-71, target illumination was maintained by feeding target location from ground-based radars to the fire-control computer in the JA 37 Viggen interceptor.[78] The most common site for the lock-on to occur was the thin stretch of international airspace between Öland and Gotland that the SR-71 used on the return flight.[79][80][81] SAF observed via radar how a MiG-25 at 63,000 ft trailed 2.9km behind the SR-71 at 72,000 ft.[24]

The MiG-31 intercepted (but did not engage) the SR-71 within a few kilometers in 1986, according to Russian pilots.[82][24][25]

Operational highlights for the entire Blackbird family (YF-12, A-12, and SR-71) as of about 1990 included:[83]

  • 3,551 Mission Sorties Flown
  • 17,300 Total Sorties Flown
  • 11,008 Mission Flight Hours
  • 53,490 Total Flight Hours
  • 2,752 hours Mach 3 Time (Missions)
  • 11,675 hours Mach 3 Time (Total)

Only one crew member, Jim Zwayer, a Lockheed flight-test reconnaissance and navigation systems specialist, was killed in a flight accident.[68] The rest of the crew members ejected safely or evacuated their aircraft on the ground.

Initial retirement

Dick Cheney told the Senate Appropriations Committee that the SR-71 cost $85,000 per hour to operate.[84] Opponents estimated a cost of $400 million per year to support the aircraft; this number was subsequently reduced to $260 million. As parts were no longer being manufactured, other airframes had to be cannibalized to keep the fleet airworthy. The lack of a datalink (unlike the Lockheed U-2) meant that imagery and radar data could not be used in real time, but had to wait until the aircraft returned to base. The Air Force saw the SR-71 as a bargaining chip which could be sacrificed to ensure the survival of other priorities. A general misunderstanding of the nature of aerial reconnaissance and a lack of knowledge about the SR-71 in particular (due to its secretive development and usage) was used by detractors to discredit the aircraft, with the assurance given that a replacement was under development.

In 1988, Congress was convinced to allocate $160,000 to keep six SR-71s (along with a trainer model) in flyable storage that could become flightworthy within 60 days; however, the USAF refused to spend the money. While the SR-71 survived attempts to retire it in 1988, partly due to the unmatched ability to provide high-quality coverage of the Kola Peninsula for the US Navy,[85] the decision to retire the SR-71 from active duty came in 1989, with the last missions flown in October that year.[86] Four months after the plane's retirement, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., was told that the expedited reconnaissance, which the SR-71 could have provided, was unavailable during Operation Desert Storm.[87]


"From the operator's perspective, what I need is something that will not give me just a spot in time but will give me a track of what is happening. When we are trying to find out if the Serbs are taking arms, moving tanks or artillery into Bosnia, we can get a picture of them stacked up on the Serbian side of the bridge. We do not know whether they then went on to move across that bridge. We need the [data] that a tactical, an SR-71, a U-2, or an unmanned vehicle of some sort, will give us, in addition to, not in replacement of, the ability of the satellites to go around and check not only that spot but a lot of other spots around the world for us. It is the integration of strategic and tactical."

Response from Admiral Richard C. Macke to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.[88]

Due to unease over political situations in the Middle East and North Korea, the U.S. Congress re-examined the SR-71 beginning in 1993.[87] Rear Admiral Thomas F. Hall addressed the question of why the SR-71 was retired, saying it was under "the belief that, given the time delay associated with mounting a mission, conducting a reconnaissance, retrieving the data, processing it, and getting it out to a field commander, that you had a problem in timelines that was not going to meet the tactical requirements on the modern battlefield. And the determination was that if one could take advantage of technology and develop a system that could get that data back real time... that would be able to meet the unique requirements of the tactical commander." Hall stated they were "looking at alternative means of doing [the job of the SR-71]."[88]

Macke told the committee that they were "flying U-2s, RC-135s, [and] other strategic and tactical assets" to collect information in some areas.[88] Senator Robert Byrd and other Senators complained that the "better than" successor to the SR-71 had yet to be developed at the cost of the "good enough" serviceable aircraft. They maintained that, in a time of constrained military budgets, designing, building, and testing an aircraft with the same capabilities as the SR-71 would be impossible.[83]

Congress' disappointment with the lack of a suitable replacement for the Blackbird was cited concerning whether to continue funding imaging sensors on the U-2. Congressional conferees stated the "experience with the SR-71 serves as a reminder of the pitfalls of failing to keep existing systems up-to-date and capable in the hope of acquiring other capabilities."[83] It was agreed to add $100 million to the budget to return three SR-71s to service, but it was emphasized that this "would not prejudice support for long-endurance UAVs [such as the Global Hawk]." The funding was later cut to $72.5 million.[83] The Skunk Works was able to return the aircraft to service under budget at $72 million.[89]

Colonel Jay Murphy (USAF Retired) was made the Program Manager for Lockheed's reactivation plans. Retired Air Force Colonels Don Emmons and Barry MacKean were put under government contract to remake the plane's logistic and support structure. Still-active Air Force pilots and Reconnaissance Systems Officers (RSOs) who had worked with the aircraft were asked to volunteer to fly the reactivated planes. The aircraft was under the command and control of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base and flew out of a renovated hangar at Edwards Air Force Base. Modifications were made to provide a data-link with "near real-time" transmission of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar's imagery to sites on the ground.[83]

Final retirement

The reactivation met much resistance: the Air Force had not budgeted for the aircraft, and UAV developers worried that their programs would suffer if money was shifted to support the SR-71s. Also, with the allocation requiring yearly reaffirmation by Congress, long-term planning for the SR-71 was difficult.[83] In 1996, the Air Force claimed that specific funding had not been authorized, and moved to ground the program. Congress reauthorized the funds, but, in October 1997, President Bill Clinton attempted to use the line-item veto to cancel the $39 million allocated for the SR-71. In June 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the line-item veto was unconstitutional. All this left the SR-71's status uncertain until September 1998, when the Air Force called for the funds to be redistributed; the Air Force permanently retired it in 1998. NASA operated the two last airworthy Blackbirds until 1999.[90] All other Blackbirds have been moved to museums except for the two SR-71s and a few D-21 drones retained by the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center.[89]



  • 24 December 1957: First J58 engine run.
  • 1 May 1960: Francis Gary Powers is shot down in a Lockheed U-2 over the Soviet Union.
  • 13 June 1962: SR-71 mock-up reviewed by Air Force.
  • 30 July 1962: J58 completes pre-flight testing.
  • 28 December 1962: Lockheed signs contract to build six SR-71 aircraft.
  • 25 July 1964: President Johnson makes public announcement of SR-71.
  • 29 October 1964: SR-71 prototype (AF Ser. No. 61-7950) delivered to Air Force Plant 42 at Palmdale, California.
  • 7 December 1964: Beale AFB, CA, announced as base for SR-71.
  • 22 December 1964: First flight of the SR-71 with Lockheed test pilot Bob Gilliland at Air Force Plant #42.
  • 21 July 1967: Jim Watkins and Dave Dempster fly first international sortie in SR-71A, AF Ser. No. 61-7972, when the Astro-Inertial Navigation System (ANS) fails on a training mission and they accidentally fly into Mexican airspace.
  • 3 November 1967: A-12 and SR-71 conduct a reconnaissance fly-off. Results are questionable.[clarification needed][citation needed]
  • 5 February 1968: Lockheed ordered to destroy A-12, YF-12, and SR-71 tooling.
  • 8 March 1968: First SR-71A (AF Ser. No. 61-7978) arrives at Kadena AB, Okinawa to replace A-12s.
  • 21 March 1968: First SR-71 (AF Ser. No. 61-7976) operational mission flown from Kadena AB over Vietnam.
  • 29 May 1968: CMSgt Bill Gornik begins the tie-cutting tradition of Habu crews' neckties.


  • 3 December 1975: First flight of SR-71A (AF Ser. No. 61-7959) in "Big Tail" configuration.
  • 20 April 1976: TDY operations started at RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom with SR-71A, AF Ser. No. 61-7972.
  • 27–28 July 1976: SR-71A sets speed and altitude records (Altitude in Horizontal Flight: Script error: No such module "convert". and Speed Over a Straight Course: Script error: No such module "convert".).
  • August 1980: Honeywell starts conversion of AFICS to DAFICS.
  • 15 January 1982: SR-71B, AF Ser. No. 61-7956, flies its 1,000th sortie.
  • 21 April 1989: SR-71, AF Ser. No. 61-7974, is lost due to an engine explosion after taking off from Kadena AB, the last Blackbird to be lost.[3][4]
  • 22 November 1989: Air Force SR-71 program officially terminated.


  • 6 March 1990: Last SR-71 flight under SENIOR CROWN program, setting four speed records en route to Smithsonian Institution.
  • 25 July 1991: SR-71B, AF Ser. No. 61-7956/NASA #831 officially delivered to NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, California.
  • October 1991: NASA engineer Marta Bohn-Meyer becomes the first female SR-71 crew member.
  • 28 September 1994: Congress votes to allocate $100 million for reactivation of three SR-71s.
  • 28 June 1995: First reactivated SR-71 returns to Air Force as Detachment 2.
  • 9 October 1999: The last flight of the SR-71 (AF Ser. No. 61-7980/NASA 844).


File:View from the SR-71 Blackbird.jpg
View from the cockpit at Script error: No such module "convert". over the Atlantic Ocean.[91]

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, broke the world record: an "absolute altitude record" of Script error: No such module "convert"..[8][92][93][94] Several aircraft have exceeded this altitude in zoom climbs, but not in sustained flight.[8] That same day SR-71, serial number 61-7958, set an absolute speed record of Script error: No such module "convert"., approximately Mach 3.3.[8][94] SR-71 pilot Brian Shul states in his book The Untouchables that he flew in excess of Mach 3.5 on 15 April 1986 over Libya to evade a missile.[95]

The SR-71 also holds the "Speed Over a Recognized Course" record for flying from New York to London—distance Script error: No such module "convert"., Script error: No such module "convert"., and an elapsed time of 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds—set on 1 September 1974 while flown by U.S. Air Force Pilot Maj. James V. Sullivan and Maj. Noel F. Widdifield, reconnaissance systems officer (RSO).[96] This equates to an average velocity of about Mach 2.72, including deceleration for in-flight refueling. Peak speeds during this flight were likely closer to the declassified top speed of Mach 3.2+. For comparison, the best commercial Concorde flight time was 2 hours 52 minutes and the Boeing 747 averages 6 hours 15 minutes.

On 26 April 1971, 61-7968, flown by Majors Thomas B. Estes and Dewain C. Vick, flew over Script error: No such module "convert". in 10 hrs. 30 min. 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".[97]

File:Pilot-RSO last flight SR-71.jpg
Pilot and RSO on 6 March 1990, the last SR-71 Senior Crown flight

When the SR-71 was retired in 1990, one Blackbird was flown from its birthplace at United States Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California, to go on exhibit at what is now the Smithsonian Institution's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.[98] On 6 March 1990, Lt. Col. Raymond E. "Ed" Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph T. "JT" Vida piloted SR-71 S/N 61-7972 on its final Senior Crown flight and set four new speed records in the process.

  1. Los Angeles, CA, to Washington, D.C., distance Script error: No such module "convert"., average speed Script error: No such module "convert"., and an elapsed time of 64 minutes 20 seconds.[96]
  2. West Coast to East Coast, distance Script error: No such module "convert"., average speed Script error: No such module "convert"., and an elapsed time of 67 minutes 54 seconds.
  3. Kansas City, Missouri, to Washington, D.C., distance Script error: No such module "convert"., average speed Script error: No such module "convert"., and an elapsed time of 25 minutes 59 seconds.
  4. St. Louis, Missouri, to Cincinnati, Ohio, distance Script error: No such module "convert"., average speed Script error: No such module "convert"., and an elapsed time of 8 minutes 32 seconds.

These four speed records were accepted by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), the recognized body for aviation records in the United States.[99] Additionally, Air & Space reported that the Air Force clocked the Blackbird at one point in its flight reaching 2,242.48 mph.[100] After the Los Angeles–Washington flight, Senator John Glenn addressed the United States Senate, chastening the Department of Defense for not using the SR-71 to its full potential:

Mr. President, the termination of the SR-71 was a grave mistake and could place our nation at a serious disadvantage in the event of a future crisis. Yesterday's historic transcontinental flight was a sad memorial to our short-sighted policy in strategic aerial reconnaissance.
—Senator John Glenn, 7 March 1990[101]


Main article: Lockheed Martin SR-72

Speculation existed regarding a replacement for the SR-71, most notably a rumored aircraft codenamed Aurora. The limitations of reconnaissance satellites, which take up to 24 hours to arrive in the proper orbit to photograph a particular target, makes them slower to respond to demand than reconnaissance planes. The fly-over orbit of spy satellites may also be predicted and can allow assets to be hidden when the satellite is above, a drawback not shared by aircraft. Thus, there are doubts that the US has abandoned the concept of spy planes to complement reconnaissance satellites.[102] Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also used for much aerial reconnaissance in the 21st century, being able to overfly hostile territory without putting human pilots at risk, as well as being smaller and harder to detect than man-carrying aircraft.

On 1 November 2013, media outlets reported that Skunk Works has been working on an unmanned reconnaissance airplane it has named SR-72, which would fly twice as fast at Mach 6.[103][104] However, the Air Force is officially pursuing the Northrop Grumman RQ-180 UAV to take up the SR-71's strategic ISR role.[105]


  • SR-71A was the main production variant.
  • SR-71B was a trainer variant.[106]
  • SR-71C was a hybrid aircraft composed of the rear fuselage of the first YF-12A (S/N 60-6934) and the forward fuselage from an SR-71 static test unit. The YF-12 had been wrecked in a 1966 landing accident. This Blackbird was seemingly not quite straight and had a yaw at supersonic speeds.[107] It was nicknamed "The Bastard".[108][109]


23x15px United States

United States Air Force[110][111][112][113]

Air Force Systems Command
4786th Test Squadron 1965-70
SR-71 Flight Test Group 1970-90
Strategic Air Command
1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron 1966-90
99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron 1966-71
Detachment 1, Kadena Air Base, Japan 1968-90
Detachment 4, RAF Mildenhall. England 1976-90
Air Combat Command

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)[114]

Accidents and aircraft disposition

File:Lockheed Sr-71.jpg
SR-71 at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona
File:SR71 closeup.jpg
Close-up of the SR-71B operated by NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, California
File:SR71 Front Close UP.jpg
The SR-71A on display at the Boeing Aviation Hangar (Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center).

Twelve SR-71s were lost and one pilot died in accidents during the aircraft's service career.[3][4] Eleven of these accidents happened between 1966 and 1972.

List of SR-71 Blackbirds
AF Serial Number Model Location or fate
61-7950 SR-71A Lost, 10 January 1967
61-7951 SR-71A Pima Air & Space Museum (adjacent to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base), Tucson, Arizona. Loaned to NASA as "YF-12A 60-6934".[citation needed]
61-7952 SR-71A Lost, 25 January 1966[68]
61-7953 SR-71A Lost, 18 December 1969[115]
61-7954 SR-71A Lost, 11 April 1969
61-7955 SR-71A Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, Edwards Air Force Base, California[116]
61-7956 SR-71B Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan
61-7957 SR-71B Lost, 11 January 1968
61-7958 SR-71A Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia
61-7959 SR-71A Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida[117]
61-7960 SR-71A Castle Air Museum at the former Castle Air Force Base, Atwater, California
61-7961 SR-71A Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson, Kansas
61-7962 SR-71A American Air Museum in Britain, Imperial War Museum Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England[118]
61-7963 SR-71A Beale Air Force Base, Marysville, California
61-7964 SR-71A Strategic Air and Space Museum (west of Offutt Air Force Base), Ashland, Nebraska
61-7965 SR-71A Lost, 25 October 1967
61-7966 SR-71A Lost, 13 April 1967
61-7967 SR-71A Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana
61-7968 SR-71A Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia
61-7969 SR-71A Lost, 10 May 1970
61-7970 SR-71A Lost, 17 June 1970
61-7971 SR-71A Evergreen Aviation Museum, McMinnville, Oregon
61-7972 SR-71A Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Washington Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia
61-7973 SR-71A Blackbird Airpark, Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California
61-7974 SR-71A Lost, 21 April 1989
61-7975 SR-71A March Field Air Museum, March Air Reserve Base (former March AFB), Riverside, California[119]
61-7976 SR-71A National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio
61-7977 SR-71A Lost, 10 October 1968. Cockpit section survived and located at the Seattle Museum of Flight.
61-7978 SR-71A Lost, 20 July 1972[3]
61-7979 SR-71A Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas
61-7980 SR-71A Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California
61-7981 SR-71C Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill Air Force Base, Ogden, Utah (formerly YF-12A 60-6934)

Notes: Many secondary references use apparently incorrect 64- series aircraft serial numbers (e.g. SR-71C 64-17981), but no primary government documents have been found to support this.[120]

After completion of all USAF and NASA SR-71 operations at Edwards AFB, the SR-71 Flight Simulator was moved in July 2006 to the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas.[121]

Specifications (SR-71A)

Data from Pace[122]

General characteristics


See also

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Portal/images/u' not found.

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



  1. ^ See the opening fly page in Paul Crickmore's book SR-71, Secret Missions Exposed, which contains a copy of the original R-12 labeled plan view drawing of the vehicle.
  2. ^ Crickmore SR-71, Secret Missions Exposed, original R-12 labeled plan view drawing
  3. ^ Lockheed obtained the metal from the USSR during the Cold War, under many guises to prevent the Soviet government from discovering what it was to be used for.
  4. ^ See Blackbird with Canards image for visual.
  5. ^ Maximum speed limit was Mach 3.2, but could be raised to Mach 3.3 if the engine compressor inlet temperature did not exceed Script error: No such module "convert"..[124]


  1. ^ "SR-71 Blackbird." Retrieved: 14 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b "SR71 Blackbird." PBS documentary, Aired: 15 November 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d e Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 98, 100–101.
  4. ^ a b c Pace 2004, pp. 126–127.
  5. ^ a b Crickmore 1997, p. 64.
  6. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, p. 78.
  7. ^ Pace 2004, p. 159.
  8. ^ a b c d "Records: Sub-class : C-1 (Landplanes) Group 3: turbo-jet." Retrieved: 30 June 2011.
  9. ^ Rich and Janos 1994, p. 85.
  10. ^ Cefaratt; Gill (2002). Lockheed: The People Behind the Story. Turner Publishing Company. pp. 78, 158. ISBN 978-1-56311-847-0. 
  11. ^ McIninch 1996, p. 31.
  12. ^ a b c Robarge, David. "A Futile Fight for Survival. Archangel: CIA's Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft." CSI Publications, 27 June 2007. Retrieved: 13 April 2009.
  13. ^ "Lockheed B-71 (SR-71)". National Museum of the United States Air Force. 29 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 56–57.
  15. ^ McIninch 1996, p. 29.
  16. ^ McIninch 1996, pp. 14–15.
  17. ^ Merlin 2005, pp. 4–5.
  18. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, p. 47.
  19. ^ Merlin 2005, p. 6.
  20. ^ "Senior Crown SR-71." Federation of American Scientists, 7 September 2010. Retrieved: 17 October 2012. Archived on 17 April 2015.
  21. ^ Crickmore 2009, pp. 30–31.
  22. ^ "MiG-25 Foxbat." Retrieved: 31 May 2011. Archived in 2014.
  23. ^ Crickmore 2004, page 383
  24. ^ a b c Simha, Rakesh Krishnan (3 September 2012). "Foxhound vs Blackbird: How the MiGs reclaimed the skies". Russia Beyond the Headlines (Rossiyskaya Gazeta). Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Leone, Dario; Cenciotti, David (11 December 2013). "How the Mig-31 repelled the SR-71 Blackbird from Soviet skies". Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 6 April 2015. [verification needed]
  26. ^ Merlin, Peter W. "Design and Development of the Blackbird: Challenges and Lessons Learned". American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  27. ^ Rich and Janos 1994, pp. 213–214.
  28. ^ Rich and Janos 1994, p. 203.
  29. ^ McIninch 1996, p. 5.
  30. ^ a b c d e Johnson 1985
  31. ^ Graham, 1996, p. 47
  32. ^ a b Graham, 1996, p. 160
  33. ^ Graham, 1996, p. 41
  34. ^ "Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" - Air Power Provided by". 
  35. ^ Blackbird diaries, Air & Space, December 2014/January 2015, p. 46
  36. ^ Graham, 1996, p. 75
  37. ^ Hott, Bartholomew and George E. Pollock "The Advent, Evolution, and New Horizons of United States Stealth Aircraft." Retrieved: 7 February 2014.
  38. ^ Suhler 2009, p. 100.
  39. ^ Suhler 2009, ch. 10.
  40. ^ AirPower May 2002, p. 36.
  41. ^ Goodall 2003, p. 19.
  42. ^ AirPower, May 2002, p. 33.
  43. ^ "SR-71 manual, Air Inlet System." Retrieved: 14 March 2010.
  44. ^ "Penn State- turbo ramjet engines." Retrieved: 14 March 2010.
  45. ^ a b c Shul and O'Grady 1994
  46. ^ Crickmore 1997, pp. 42–43.
  47. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, p. 97.
  48. ^ Rich and Janos 1994, p. 221.
  49. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, p. 83.
  50. ^ a b Kloesel, Kurt J., Nalin A. Ratnayake and Casie M. Clark. "A Technology Pathway for Airbreathing, Combined-Cycle, Horizontal Space Launch Through SR-71 Based Trajectory Modeling." NASA: Dryden Flight Research Center. Retrieved: 7 September 2011.
  51. ^ NASA Armstrong (Page Editor: Y Gibbs, NASA Official: B Dunbar) - Fact Sheet: SR-71 Blackbird February 28, 2014 [Retrieved 2015-04-28](ed. used to add < axial-flow turbo-jet >)
  52. ^ "SR-71." Retrieved: 14 March 2010.
  53. ^ Fig 1-11
  54. ^ "Jet Propulsion for Aerospace Applications" second edition, Hesse and Mumford, Pitman Publishing Corporation, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 64-18757, p375
  55. ^ "F-12 Series Aircraft Propulsion System Performance and Development" David Campbell, J. Aircraft VOL.11, NO. 11, November 1974
  56. ^ SR-71 Revealed Richard H. Graham Col USAF(Retd) ISBN 978-0-7603-0122-7, p. 51.
  57. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 95–96.
  58. ^ Marshall, Elliot, The Blackbird's Wake, Air and Space, October/November 1990, p.35
  59. ^ Graham, 1996, pp. 38-39
  60. ^ Paul Crickmore, Lockheed Blackbird: Beyond The Secret Missions, 1993, page 233.
  61. ^ Morrison, Bill, SR-71 contributors, Feedback column, Aviation Week and Space Technology, 9 December 2013, p.10
  62. ^ "SR-71A-1 Flight Manual, Section IV, p. 3." Retrieved: 13 December 2011.
  63. ^ "SR-71 Pilot Interview Richard Graham Veteran Tales". YouTube. 
  64. ^ a b c d Crickmore 1997, p. 74.
  65. ^ Crickmore 1997, p. 563.
  66. ^ Crickmore 1997, p. 77.
  67. ^ Blackbird diaries, Air & Space, December 2014/January 2015, p. 45
  68. ^ a b c "Bill Weaver SR-71 Breakup." Roadrunners Internationale, 10 September 2011. Retrieved: 3 March 2012.
  69. ^ Donald 2003, p. 172.
  70. ^ Popular Mechanics, June 1991, p. 28.
  71. ^
  72. ^ Crickmore 1997, pp. 56, 58.
  73. ^ Graham Colonel (USAF), Richard. "SR-71 Pilot Interview Richard Graham, Veteran Tales interview at Frontiers of Flight Museum (at 1:02:55)". YouTube. Erik Johnston. Retrieved 29 August 2013. 
  74. ^ Crickmore 1997, p. 59.
  75. ^ a b Crickmore 1997, pp. 62–64.
  76. ^ Hobson p. 269.
  77. ^ Donald 2003, p. 167.
  78. ^ Flyghistorisk Revy – System 37 Viggen, Stockholm: Svensk Flyghistorisk Förening, 2009, ISSN 0345-3413.
  79. ^ Mach 14, vol 4, no 3, 1983, p. 5. ISSN 0280-8498.
  80. ^ Mach 25, vol 7, no 2, 1986, pp. 28–29. ISSN 0280-8498.
  81. ^ Darwal 2004, pp. 151–156.
  82. ^ Crickmore 2004, page 383
  83. ^ a b c d e f Graham 1996
  84. ^ Marshall, Eliot, The Blackbird's Wake, Air & Space, October/November 1990, p.35
  85. ^ Crickmore 1997, pp. 84–85.
  86. ^ Crickmore 1997, p. 81.
  87. ^ a b Remak and Ventolo 2001,[page needed]
  88. ^ a b c "Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1994 and The Future Years." United States Senate, May–June 1993.
  89. ^ a b Jenkins 2001
  90. ^ "NASA/DFRC SR-71 Blackbird." NASA. Retrieved: 16 August 2007.
  91. ^ Shul and Watson 1993, pp. 113–114.
  92. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 77–78.
  93. ^ "SR-71 World Record Speed and Altitude Flights". 
  94. ^ a b "A-12, YF-12A, & SR-71 Timeline of Events". 
  95. ^ Shul, Brian (1994). The Untouchables. Mach One. p. 173. ISBN 0929823125. 
  96. ^ a b "Blackbird Records." Retrieved: 18 October 2009.
  97. ^ "1966 Lockheed SR-71." Retrieved: 14 February 2011.
  98. ^ "Spy Plane Sets Speed Record, Then Retires." The New York Times, 7 March 1990.
  99. ^ National Aeronautic Association
  100. ^ Marshall, Elliot, The Blackbird's Wake, Air & Space, October/November 1990, p.31
  101. ^ SR-71 Revealed : The Untold Story. 
  102. ^ Siuru, William D. and John D. Busick. Future Flight: The Next Generation of Aircraft Technology. Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania: TAB Books, 1994. ISBN 0-8306-7415-2.
  103. ^ Norris, Guy (1 November 2013). "Exclusive: Skunk Works Reveals SR-71 Successor Plan". Aviation Week. Penton. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  104. ^ Trimble, Stephen (1 November 2013). "Skunk Works reveals Mach 6.0 SR-72 concept". Reed Business Information. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  105. ^ Butler, Amy; Sweetman, Bill (6 December 2013). "EXCLUSIVE: Secret New UAS Shows Stealth, Efficiency Advances". Aviation Week. Penton. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  106. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 56–58.
  107. ^ Landis and Jenkins 2005, pp. 62, 75.
  108. ^ Merlin 2005, p. 4.
  109. ^ Pace 2004, pp. 109–110.
  110. ^
  111. ^
  112. ^
  113. ^
  114. ^ Fact Sheet: SR-71 Blackbird. NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  115. ^ "SR-71 #953 crash." Retrieved: 12 November 2012.
  116. ^ SR-71A Blackbird Air Force Flight Center Museum. Retrieved: 10 February 2009.[dead link]
  117. ^ Exhibits. Air Force Armament Museum. Retrieved: 10 February 2009.
  118. ^ "Aircraft On Display: Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird." The American Air Museum, Imperial War Museum. Retrieved: 10 February 2009.
  119. ^ "Aircraft: Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird." March Field Air Museum. Retrieved: 10 February 2009.[dead link]
  120. ^ U-2 / A-12 / YF-12A / SR-71 Blackbird & RB-57D – WB-57F locations.' Retrieved: 22 January 2010.
  121. ^ "Frontiers of Flight Museum." Retrieved: 14 March 2010.
  122. ^ a b Pace 2004, p. 110.
  123. ^ Graham 1996, p. 48.
  124. ^ Graham 2002, pp. 93, 223.


  • "A Bittersweet and Fancy Flight." Philadelphia Inquirer, 7 March 1990, p. 1.
  • Crickmore, Paul F. "Blackbirds in the Cold War". Air International, January 2009, pp. 30–38. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing.
  • Crickmore, Paul F. "Lockheed's Blackbirds – A-12, YF-12 and SR-71A". Wings of Fame, Volume 8, 1997, pp. 30–93. London: Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 1-86184-008-X.
  • Donald, David, ed. "Lockheed's Blackbirds: A-12, YF-12 and SR-71". Black Jets. AIRtime, 2003. ISBN 1-880588-67-6.
  • Goodall, James. Lockheed's SR-71 "Blackbird" Family. Hinckley, UK: Aerofax/Midland Publishing, 2003. ISBN 1-85780-138-5.
  • Graham, Richard H. SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales, and Legends. North Branch, Minnesota: Zenith Imprint, 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1142-0.
  • Graham, Richard H. SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 1996. ISBN 978-0-7603-0122-7.
  • Jenkins, Dennis R. Lockheed Secret Projects: Inside the Skunk Works. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7603-0914-8.
  • Johnson, C.L. Kelly: More Than My Share of it All. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Books, 1985. ISBN 0-87474-491-1.
  • Landis, Tony R. and Dennis R. Jenkins. Lockheed Blackbirds. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Specialty Press, revised edition, 2005. ISBN 1-58007-086-8.
  • McIninch, Thomas. "The Oxcart Story". Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 2 July 1996. Retrieved: 10 April 2009.
  • Merlin, Peter W. From Archangel to Senior Crown: Design and Development of the Blackbird., Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), 2008. ISBN 978-1-56347-933-5.
  • Merlin, Peter W. "The Truth is Out There... SR-71 Serials and Designations". Air Enthusiast, No. 118, July/August 2005. Stamford, UK: Key Publishing, pp. 2–6. ISSN 0143-5450.
  • Pace, Steve. Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Swindon, UK: Crowood Press, 2004. ISBN 1-86126-697-9.
  • Remak, Jeannette and Joe Ventolo, Jr. A-12 Blackbird Declassified. St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1000-9.
  • Rich, Ben R. and Leo Janos. Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1994. ISBN 0-316-74330-5.
  • Shul, Brian and Sheila Kathleen O'Grady. Sled Driver: Flying the World's Fastest Jet. Marysville, California: Gallery One, 1994. ISBN 0-929823-08-7.
  • Shul, Brian and Walter Watson, Jr. The Untouchables. Chico, California: Mach 1, Inc. 1993. ISBN 0-929823-12-5.
  • Suhler, Paul A. From RAINBOW to GUSTO: Stealth and the Design of the Lockheed Blackbird (Library of Flight Series) . Reston, Virginia: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), 2009. ISBN 978-1-60086-712-5.

Additional sources


External links