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Battle Stations - SR-71 Blackbird Stealth Plane -Full Documentary

Battle Stations - SR-71 Blackbird Stealth Plane -Full Documentary
faster than a speeding bullet and unlike any other aircraft ever built it raced the Sun flying at speeds of 2,000 miles an hour in the top 1% of the Earth's atmosphere it holds every major speed and altitude record for a jet you did all of this effortlessly and that was the feeling you had that you had control of so much power it was the world's first

stealth

aircraft flying over enemy territory and photographing a hundred thousand square miles of the Earth's surface in an hour you were sitting at the very front of that hundred and seven foot long spear penetrating enemy airspace you were truly the tip of the sword if anything went wrong we would be on the 6 o'clock news once shrouded in secrecy

battle

stations

now reveals using archive film and color reenactments the covert world of the sr-71

blackbird

during World War 1 the first reconnaissance aircraft were developed to photograph the enemy in an attempt to gain a tactical advantage World War two saw more sophisticated aircraft and camera technology that played a vital role in the Allied victory after the Second World War the world was left with two ideologically opposed superpowers the Cold War had begun and the United States wanted to keep a watchful eye on events behind the Iron Curtain America was desperate for information about Soviet nuclear stockpiling fighter capability and bomber threat in early December 1954 the task of creating the next generation of reconnaissance aircraft was assigned to the...
battle stations   sr 71 blackbird stealth plane  full documentary
visionary design at Kelly Johnson and his elite team from Lockheed's advanced development program known as the skunk works I think Kelly's operation of the skunk works was probably unique in in aviation industry to start with he had a very very small cadre of people he hand-picked everyone that worked for him they were swart Altamonte secrecy there was absolutely no leaks within the system he was guaranteed of that he also made it a point to co-locate his engineers and his producers the people who were building the air

plane

so the engineer could come up with the drawing and he would walk out on a hangar floor and talk to the man who's bending metal can't stress enough the engineers directly with the shop people all the time and Kelly when you had a problem he'd have a meeting and decisions were made right then he is always very fair he could be very tough he was no pussycat I'll tell you Kellie's skunkworks produced their first spy

plane

in 1955 the YouTube in an effort to evade Soviet radar the u2 was designed to fly at an altitude of 75 thousand feet in 1956 he began over flying the Soviet Union on reconnaissance missions but the Soviets latest radar systems were more advanced than had been anticipated when the youtubes flown by the CIA first began their operations over the Soviet Union they were shocked to discovered that the Soviets were tracking them even on the very first mission every u2 flown over the Soviet Union was in serious danger...
battle stations   sr 71 blackbird stealth plane  full documentary
the YouTube was being tracked and that was a great concern to not like to our country but to Lockheed who had promised that this air

plane

would never be seen determined to create the ultimate spy

plane

Kelly Johnson returned to the drawing board he began designing a new supersonic aircraft that could fly faster and higher than the u2 with the lowest possible presence on enemy radar screens then on the first of May 1960 disaster struck a u-tube flown by Francis Gary Powers was shot down by an sa-2 missile powers survived and had a very public trial designed to humiliate the US and deter them from carrying out any further reconnaissance flights but with tensions between the superpowers mounting the need for reconnaissance was more urgent than ever Kelly Johnson's plans for an advanced supersonic spy

plane

became the number one priority in order to create an aircraft capable of operating at the speeds and altitudes that Kelly envisage t' his skunkworks team would have to overcome a series of huge technological problems and the biggest problem that he was going to face and he knew this up front was going to be temperature the temperatures that the aircraft would encounter at those speeds phenomenal it was clear that a traditional aluminium airframe would not withstand these extreme conditions you could not fly an air

plane

past 2.6 Mach and you just barely mega then with aluminum because the air

plane

had just turned to jelly the decision was made to build the airframe...
battle stations   sr 71 blackbird stealth plane  full documentary
from titanium titanium was both light enough to reach altitudes in excess of 80,000 feet and strong enough to withstand the enormous temperatures generated by Mach 3 flight no one had ever built an air

plane

out of titanium so he had to begin from scratch we didn't even have tools that you could use to develop titanium and to bend it into shape up to make an air

plane

so we had to start by designing tools it was a gigantic undertaking creating an aircraft able to cruise at Mach 3 was difficult enough but the skunkworks also had to face the challenge of combining this level of performance with the new science of

stealth

to avoid features that would create strong radar reflections the

plane

had taken on a revolutionary shape the wings were blended into the body and the long surfaces on the forward fuselage known as child were designed to deflect incoming radar waves as with the inward angled twin fins the pointed engine cones and the nearly flat lower fuselage also a special radar-absorbent plastic or composite was developed to be incorporated into all the leading edges when you look at an sr-71 20% of what you see is composite you know it's just unbelievable at that time and it was developed in our shops an sr-71 was a hundred times smaller radar return than an f-14 which is only half as big and was developed ten years later so that was a really truly first air

plane

specifically designed with

stealth

in mind on the 22nd of December 1964 the sr-71 was rolled out onto...
the flight line at Lockheed's Burbank plant coated in black radar-absorbent ferrite paint the

Blackbird

as it became known was an extraordinarily futuristic looking machine lucky test pilot Robert Gilliland would be the first in the cockpit when we got going as a matter of fact for the actual first flight it had 383 open items these are things that was supposed to be working that aren't working so it was a bare-bones type of operation for the first flight and you might say these kind of things could be dangerous but there are plenty of other people that would like to been in my position I assure you of that the acceleration when we made the first engine run and they had those afterburners going in there and that thing is straining against those cables and I just felt boy this is really gonna be something the flight lasted just over one hour reaching top speeds of over a thousand miles an hour a phenomenal accomplishment for a first flight of any aircraft Kelly Johnson was there and some of his guests were there and I don't remember who all else was there but the whole kit and caboodle were very happy including me it seemed that Kelly had created his ultimate spy

plane

but would it be able to evade radar and fly high enough and fast enough to escape the Soviet fighters and missiles flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3 at altitudes over 80,000 feet the sr-71

blackbird

was the fastest and highest flying jet in the world in 1966 the first sr-71 spy

plane

was...
delivered to Beale Air Force Base in California the first strategic reconnaissance squadron now needed an elite force of airmen to fly it well my first thought was I sure hope that I'm selected for the program I mean that was that was ultimate that get selected for the program in order to qualify for the sr-71 you had to be very good at what you were doing thus far in your aviation career in fact he had to be pretty much the best at what you did to be considered as a candidate each

Blackbird

needed two crew members the pilot and the RSO the reconnaissance systems officer it was extremely exciting to just get sign-in to Beale Air Force Base and to think that rig me flying this air

plane

you cannot wait but the selection interviews and evaluations alone lasted a week and included a rigorous physical examination the same as experienced by the astronaut corps and the first two days were physicals on astronaut physical in a sense taking a knee kg on a treadmill and

full

-body x-ray is just very extensive physical exam they also wanted to know if you were the kind of person that they could live with on the road because we had to spend a lot of time together you know in the sense it's part of your family and they wanted to evaluate people to see if they'd be a good member of that family the pilot began his actual training with long hours in t-38 and in the sr-71 simulator the intense simulator sessions tested the crew members to their limits they basically made it a...
growing experience they would just give me multiple malfunctions to deal with in fact they just keep giving you another problem on top of another problem until you're juggling five or six or seven balls at once and eventually you have to start dropping them and they would evaluate how you prioritized which ball do you drop after months of training the crews were ready for their first flight together the extreme speed and altitude called for special protection and this came in the shape of the hundred and twenty thousand dollar pressure suit to technicians suits you up you stepped down into it you put your arms into it and it comes up to your back the boot is separate from the suit and they're just regular real combat boots the gloves are especially handmade for you and they snap on with little o-rings on to your suit then we put the helmet on it's quite heavy and once they snap it down you hear yourself breathing for a few moments there you get some claustrophobia I did anyway the suit was designed to have a hundred percent oxygen and a nasal cavity area and then compressed air in the rest of the suit so that if you were to lose cabin pressure at eighty thousand feet or above the nitrogen bubbles in your system would come out and your blood would boil so you need some kind of an environment around you that's what the pressure suit provided suited up the pilot and RSO are ready to be escorted out to the aircraft for their first flight together there are three...
people that do nothing but strap you into the cockpit and unlike a lot of aircraft this cockpit is down sort of in the bowels of the aircraft you get placed down inside the cockpit and strapped in and then the the canopy is lowered on top of you you don't even lower it yourself someone has to do that for you and lock it down you're kind of becoming part of the aircraft and it's becoming part of you a shot of triethyl boring gas ignites the fuel and the j58 engines are started we're really got impressive is when it starts taxing out of the Hanged and it's 110 feet long and so this thing keeps coming out keeps coming out keeps coming out and all of a sudden you realize that's an awesome looking air

plane

as it gradually comes out of the hangar so here we were looking on an air

plane

there's going to be doing two thousand miles an hour and it's design was so futuristic there's like no other air

plane

that has ever been designed because it was going to fly in an environment that no other air

plane

had ever been in I'd never forget how it feels to light those afterburners and feel one light before the other one does and it jerks you pretty hard and it accelerates rather rapidly just a matter of seconds you're you hitting 180 knots indicated air speed lifting off at 210 making sure you get the gear retracted before it over speeds at 300 knots and you keep pulling that nose up to try to achieve the 400 not climb out and in less than two...
minutes from brake release you're pouring out of after burning your level of 24,000 feet it's quite a ride I remember the first time I took the aircraft up to speed and altitude I went through Mach 1 then I approached Mach 2 and it went through Mach 2 without the slightest indication of any problems and I marveled at that and then it rolled right on through Mach 3 of course none of us had ever been that fast before but you did all of this definitely and that was the feeling you had that you had control of so much power on this aircraft that was almost limitless as the sr-71 accelerates through Mach 3 the triple sonic boom is followed by a blast of heat radiated in its black skin it reaches temperatures of 1,100 degrees it truly flew through the air like a hot knife through butter it really did so it was pointy on every end but it had elegance me but it was an elegance that was designed for performance after 10 months of grueling training the sr-71 crews were ready to go operational flying over heavily defended areas in enemy territories would push both the aircraft and the crews to their limits on March the 21st 1968 the first sr-71 operational sortie was flown out of Kadena Air Force Base Okinawa Japan the Vietnam War had been raging for five years and the United States was determined to contain and defeat communism in Southeast Asia the role of the sr-71 would be to gather photographic and electronic intelligence of their enemies they would fly daily over...
territories where one mistake could cost the lives of the crew and provoke an international incident in this program that the margin for error was so narrow almost to nothing that it really was the pressure of flying the mission flawlessly so that because if anything went wrong we would be on the 6 o'clock news sr-71 missions were always care

full

y planned in their briefing the crews thoroughly study the mission route and surveillance areas and a warned of potential enemy threats well we tried to stay well informed about our adversaries capabilities about their their ability to track our movement our aircraft any potential surface-to-air missiles that might be a threat to us or any aircraft that might be a threat to us during a flight three hours before the mission they have a medical check-up and eat a high-protein meal of steak and eggs the crew chief and his staff spend hours inspecting the sr-71 for any possible mechanical problems preflight on the aircraft starts around midnight were saying for a six or seven o'clock launch in the morning and there's a lot of procedures and should go through cameras have to be uploaded the bays are in the forward section of the chines and then the cameras was electrically lifted up into it we always loaded a light load of fuel for the mere fact that it's a lot easier on the airframe it's a lot easier on the tires the landing gear and so forth like that there's always excitement in the air electrifying every time...
you file the air

plane

it was everybody with Keita everybody did their job and did it extremely well and took it very very seriously everybody worked together and it was a team effort and everybody knew that they was striving for that one thing and it was perfection the sr-71 demanded it because there was no room for error when you get ready to launch the air

plane

there things are happening so fast that you sent a air

plane

off and of course you're going to be concerned about whether or not come back you're constantly thinking whether everything is correct or not and and those questions kind of creep into your mind above 60,000 feet the crew switches off all contact with air traffic control only a select few know where the

Blackbird

goes next the pilot in the sr-71 spent all of his time flying the air

plane

the air

plane

operated on autopilot that's true but you had to kind of hand fly the autopilot it demanded your attention all the time and so the fellow in the backseat the reconnaissance systems officer he held all of the auxiliary systems sitting in the rear cockpit the RSO must keep the

plane

on the black line the pre-planned route to the target as they reach enemy territory he concentrates on the radar and defensive systems trying to jam enemy communications in the event of a missile launch we carried the same type of jammer that was used throughout the Vietnam War by all of the fighters and bombers which attempted to jam the communication between the radar site...
and the missile itself once they began the communication our indications in the cockpit would go from warning to jamming and it would be jamming that communication link to the missile but sometimes the enemy would try to attack the sr-71 by launching a missile without any radar guidance we were coming in off the water headed inland and the pilot says hey reg look out your right window and here is what looks like a telephone pole about a hundred and fifty yards away that's going just straight up he said was that close enough when I said yeah that was close enough our main defense that we were fired upon was increased speed and we could increase a hundred not turn off in just a matter of seconds which is a lot of differential and speed for a missile to cope with approaching the target area the RSO concentrates on operating the high-tech surveillance equipment the six different cameras were able to photograph a hundred thousand square miles in an hour producing images with such high resolution that of vehicles number plate could be clearly identified the surveying capability of the aircraft was fantastic because you're going in a straight line for 2,000 miles you could look out as far as the horizon goes and from Horizon to Horizon that's what you could survey for the crews flying in the top 1% of the atmosphere it gave them a unique perspective on the world the first thing that you notice that's phenomenal is the change of the sky color at about sixty thousand...
feet the sky turns a deep indigo steel blue that is so mesmerizing you just want it you just want to look at it it's fascinating if I flew the aircraft up near the Arctic Circle and I might actually Traverse dawn-to-dusk and back two or three times I've seen the Sun Rise and said three times on a flight which is very unusual and we're actually flying faster than the Earth's rotation so we're outrunning the Sun on landing the highest priority is to download the cameras known as sensors as quickly as possible everyone was deeply concerned that their sensor performed as it was designed to do and program today so there was a lot of serious concerns there and there was a lot of happiness because the plaintiff made a successful mission and his crews were home the films were then rushed off for processing and analysis but the photo interpreters were a brilliant bunch of young Airmen and they could look at that film and they could spot something had been moved or a new facility was going up they were they were great at that and they would call their supervisors if they saw something of interest you know that needed to be flagged and brought the attention of the intelligence people one of the things I enjoyed about flying the

Blackbird

was knowing that information is power the information we would gather could very well preclude bombs having to be dropped at all it could save a lot of people's lives by having the right information at the right time the...

Blackbird

crews were success

full

y infiltrating enemy territory and gathering a mass of intelligence about their adversaries but with the Iron Curtain still firmly in place and Soviet technology constantly improving how long would the sr-71 remain flying safely in such dangerous areas in October 1973 they would face their most crucial test in the early 1970s the world's attention focused on the Middle East tension between America's ally Israel and her Arab neighbors was reaching breaking point on the 6th of October 1973 soviet-backed Egypt and Syria attacked Israel and made dramatic territorial games with the middle-east caught up in the politics of the Cold War an Israeli defeat would bring with it the threat of nuclear conflict the Soviets had launched their cosmos five nine six satellite bringing them immediate intelligence from the

battle

fronts and putting them one step ahead of the United States it was time to bring in the

Blackbird

the sr-71 would fly directly from Griffith Air Force Base New York to the Middle East the flight would be over 11 hours long with six refuelings no

Blackbird

crew member had ever experienced such a lengthy complex mission I flew at 10 and a half hour training flight and I was beat by the time I got out of the air

plane

I said whoo that's about as far as I can fly but when they said you can fly 11 hours in 20 minutes you jump up and you say yes sir you know I'll be happy to do that I picked Jim Shelton as the first pilot to fly...
the mission I knew he was an extremely reliable highly qualified and had done extremely well on all of his training and everything so I had total confidence as if the mission could be done the gym would do it on the 12th of October under codename giant reach the mission began we took off from Rome New York around 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning because you want to be over a target area somewhere between 11:00 and 1:00 o'clock this allows you to have some shadows so the photo interpreter producers can go ahead and judge elevation but yet get you the best Sun position you can have by 10 o'clock in the morning the sr-71 had reached its second refueling point over Portugal because of the highly classified nature of this mission no one other than the tanker crew knew they were coming on the way into that particular refueling the tanker crews said the Portuguese control kept calling out an air

plane

in relation to the tanker and the tanker says you know we don't see anybody of course they knew it was us but I'm sure that they could tell on their scope something was happening because the two blips merge for a while for 20 minutes and then this one accelerates on Jim Shelton approached the Egyptian coastline the Egyptians were well-equipped with their Soviet allies constantly replenishing their supplies Russia was developing the sa5 which was a missile that would go up above well above your altitude and come back down at you and yes that was a concern with 160 SAM missile...
sites many secretly commanded by Soviets and sophisticated radar tracking systems they were on

full

-scale alert watching the skies for any enemy infiltration as soon as we got into range of the Egyptian Sam sites they started tracking us the Egyptians alerted to an unidentified aircraft appearing on their radar systems and presuming the

plane

to be either Israeli or American scrambled to launch their surface-to-air missiles 80,000 feet above them traveling at a speed of over Mach 3 Jim Shelton's

Blackbird

was gathering thousands of feet of film capturing the extent and whereabouts of the Egyptian military forces you had the radar receiver in the back cockpit Gary could tell me that yes now we're being tracked by some Sam missile we need to do something so at that particular point we were jammed speed up by the time the Egyptian missiles were ready to fire the sr-71 had already cleared their airspace and was speeding towards Israel but the heavily armed Israelis also had no knowledge of this covert

blackbird

operation and immediately went on

full

alert when we rolled in on the first pass over Israel my defensive system just lighted up like a pinball machine and I indicated to my pilot I got all these indications back here I said just you know maybe keep your eyes open because seems like somebody's shooting at us despite launching a barrage of missiles the Israelis did not manage to shoot their presumed enemy out of the sky the black bird headed back to the United...
States we've got everything we were tasked for got the air

plane

back and that's the first time air

plane

yes our 71 had flown 11 hours and 20 minutes after we land the next couple of days Gary and I get invited to the Pentagon Admiral Moore chairman of Joint Chiefs wanted to thank us for the work that we had done and they showed us some photos the photographs were detailed enough to show how many Israeli tanks have been destroyed in the initial

battle

s we were to go ahead and resupply the Israelis with some of their lost equipment so the photo interpreters are counting the number of tanks that we would be replacing so it was a very crucial point for the sr-71 it was a very sensitive mission and there was a lot of pressure to get that first one done Jim and his backseater nailed them he got all the all the targets and everyone was absolutely elated eight more successful

blackbird

missions supplied detailed intelligence that the war was now turning in Israel's favor with this information the United States was able to broker an eventual ceasefire on the 24th of October I think the sr-71 contributed greatly to the resolution of that war no one knew the air

plane

could fly that far and perform a mission like that and come back and hand the intelligence people the product the

Blackbird

was also a record breaker on September the 13th 1974 Kelly Johnson's sr-71 flew across seven time zones from London to Los Angeles in a race with the Sun taking just three hours 47...
minutes and 39 seconds for the record-breaking flight I was over at the FAA control center and the controller is a huge screen and he said here's a 747 coming out of Phoenix and it blip blip it moved about 1/2 inch or quarter-inch he's okay get ready here comes the sr-71 out of Canada and ready and blow us out of way because he was right overhead and he was starting to decel but he managed to blow the windows out as a growers house in the Hollywood Hills in the same year the

Blackbird

had flown a record-breaking flight from New York to London fifty-two years earlier Charles Lindbergh had flown approximately the same distance in 33 hours the sr-71 made the flight in one hour 55 minutes and 42 seconds but the sr-71 would soon be needed in a more serious capacity another soviet-backed Middle Eastern enemy was on the warpath and was determined to humiliate the United States there would be no better way than to shoot the sr-71 out of the sky tension between the United States and much of the Arab world continued in 1972 the revolutionary leader of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi announced that he was giving aid to terrorist organizations in Europe and the Middle East he issued repeated threats to America and indicated that those who cross the Gulf of Sidra would be crossing a line of death by the spring of 1986 worldwide terrorism had reached unprecedented levels President Reagan's patience was wearing thin Gaddafi deserves to be treated as a pariah in the world...
community we call on our friends in Western Europe and elsewhere to join with us in isolating if these steps do not end Qaddafi's terrorism I promise you that further steps will be taken then on the 5th of April 1986 a bomb exploded in a West Berlin disco among the 232 casualties to American servicemen were killed the United States found clear evidence that Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi was behind the attack at RAF Mildenhall in England sr-71 pilot Brian shul knew that they were on course for retaliation now we knew that something was going on because all of a sudden the Mildenhall base had a an extra security arm of guards around it our BOQ living quarters had armed guards at the doors next thing you knew every tanker and the airforce practically was landing at kill Mildenhall there were new air

plane

s on the ramp that you hadn't seen before and it was no secret to every Brit aircraft spotter out there that there was something going on the British government would allow the United States to fly the missions from their bases in England at 9:30 a.m. on the 14th of April the sr-71 crew members were ordered to a top-secret briefing they were informed that the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at Lakenheath would be striking selected libyan targets within hours when we heard the words you know this morning at 2:00 a.m. the f-111s are launching we were a little surprised that well this is for real it's happening the sr-71 job would be to record the results of the airstrikes...
against Tripoli and Benghazi that night the f-111s began their mission so when we're trying to sleep in the middle of the night you're awakened by the roar of f-111s taking off listen to that it was quite serious at that time because we knew maybe some of those people wouldn't come back by the time the sr-71 crews arrived to prepare for their mission the f-111s were already bombing Libya and federal Americans at seven o'clock this evening Eastern Time air and naval forces of the United States launched a series of strikes against the headquarters terrorist facilities and military assets that support Muammar Qaddafi's subversive activities today we have done what we had to do if necessary we shall do it again the one Elevens had a number of targets to take out missile defenses sites and things but also all the terrorist training camps and to really hit Qaddafi's headquarters basically to really show them that we're gonna come right into his backyard our job was to come and assess everything that was done I gather pictures and and target data for may be succeeding strikes flying in directly after a bombing raid the cruise could expect Libya's sophisticated air defense network to be on

full

alert and eager to retaliate we were subsonic off lands and getting ready to get to the tanker and we saw the string f1 lemons coming back and my back seater Walter was counting the

plane

s as they came back and passed us and he came up one short and he knew...
that somebody had not made it home and it was we were very sad in the cockpit at that time before we even started we had lost an entire crew but yet it gave us a more resolved after refueling and now traveling at supersonic speeds they near the Gulf of Sidra and the Libyan target area we're doing over 2,000 miles an hour at this point and we were we were like a speeding bullet except faster and we had crossed the line of death with impunity but the Libyans equipped with the latest Soviet long-range high-altitude missiles pose the greatest threat yet to the

Blackbird

it was at that time that Walters start picking up some missile signals he got two indications and then actually got a launch indication and we had a big decision to make where we were we were running into the target area before we made the turn do we continue to that point where Qaddafi's headquarters were or do we make a turn away now to save ourselves from the missiles and our decision was to push the throttles forward we thought in 14 seconds we can beat that missile to that point and then make the turn made the turn went feet wet got to the coast and I will tell you that was probably the fastest I've ever seen the sr-71 and fly they don't run the Miss life gathered the photographic intelligence and we're now heading away from the danger zone Walt said ok you can you can pull it back now when iris my hand was still locked in the forward position there we were seeing Mach numbers that were...
a little scary that we had not seen before and the jet did it effortlessly the intelligence photos that were brought back clearly showed that the bombing mission had been a success it was decided there will be no need to risk more American Airman's lives of Libya with further bombing we brought back the confirmation of - whether we needed to go in again or not what we had really done where their defenses were what they really had but we made a statement to Qaddafi and if you'll notice you remember you didn't hear a lot from him for a long time after that but despite the success of the sr-71s over Libya its days were numbered at the end of the 1980s it was decided that the cost of operating the sr-71 was no longer sustainable the

Blackbird

program was terminated from now on All American surveillance will be carried out by satellites the reason that was given was that it was too expensive well it's reconnaissance that's that's sometimes glass can be very expensive and if you don't have reconnaissance you're pretty blinded and now they like to say the satellites can do it all then satellites can do a great deal and there are magnificent capabilities but there are things they can't do and there are things that are unique that only the sr-71 can do on December the 20th 1989 the sr-71 made a final pass down the runway at Lockheed Burbank plant in honor of all those who worked on this exceptional play Kelly Johnson was there to pay an emotional...
farewell to his favorite creation I can't say enough about Kelly Johnson himself you know he's a he was an absolute aeronautical genius working for Lockheed I think he's made the greatest aircraft that ever existed there's just something about the sleek sr-71 makes it in a class of one there is no other impressive to the last the

Blackbird

said for international speed records while being delivered to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum people love a winner they love when someone is the best in their field this aircraft was the best in its field it was the prime speed machine of the world every speed and altitude record they'd had said it holds to this day the sr-71

blackbird

served six different presidents and saw action on hot and cold war fronts alike and despite being shot at over four thousand times no aircraft was ever lost to enemy fire it is the only operational air

plane

in the history of the American air force in which no Air Force crew members are ever killed that's a record that no other air

plane

has and when you consider the environment in which it flew the speed the altitude the temperatures that's a real credit to Kelly Johnson I flew the air

plane

for almost nine years and I initially checked out in early 1957 so it was I flew the air

plane

a long time after mr. powers went down in 1960 including all of the Cuban missions and missions and in Vietnam and missions and other locations around the world well of course when he...
went to to be selected for the program none of us had seen the air

plane

so we knew now of its existence and we had seen photographs of it and everyone was very excited now I had been flying to u2 for almost nine years so I knew my days and that program were bound to be numbered and usually what happens when you leave a program like that you go to a headquarters in a staff position and you get to fly a desk for several years and I certainly didn't want that to happen I wanted to continue to fly as all pilots do so when I was given the opportunity to start all over with another brand new program I was I was just absolutely delighted flying the aircraft in transitioning from the u2 it was quite a radical transition because the air

plane

was much bigger heavier handled considerably different the u2 for example had a head a yoke at a wheel like a multi-engine air

plane

has whereas the sr-71 had a stick like most fighters would have and having been flying in fighters for many years before I got into reconnaissance I was overjoyed to see a stick in the cockpit instead of a wheel but the b-58 pilots I think who came into the program probably found that transition very easy because I think it handled subsonically quite a lot like to b-58 hustler bomber did now when you transitioned to supersonic performance then the aircraft became very demanding on the pilot and the backseater RSO reconnaissance systems officer it demanded all of your attention all the time you didn't dare...
it's been much time looking at the scenery or watching the world go by you had to be flying that air

plane

every second of the time and in contrast to the u2 which had you know subsonic speeds so it wasn't anything that was too demanding had a nice autopilot I've taken naps and written letters and read a chapter in a book when I'm flying the u2 on over the ocean or someplace where I'm not asked to do anything 7 get from point A to point B you would never do that in the sr-71 you have to fly the air

plane

every bit at the time but again it's still a very very honest air

plane

I don't think anyone flew the air

plane

had any reservations about the nature of the mission or what we were doing with the mission where we were flying what our what our mission objective was what we were trying to collect weather was electronic intelligence or whether it was photo or radar we had all those systems onboard the air

plane

and and so we had multiple targets that we were looking for and some of them involved over flights and some of them involved peripheral work and I don't think anyone was really concerned about that aspect of the mission at all in fact it used to be rather enjoyable when MiG's would be launched to intercept the sr-71 because they delighted in trying to do that they would love to have been able to shoot down an sr-71 of course they never could but you could see contrails of the MiG's when they were scrambling and coming up and it was it...
was kind of like tweaking the Lions tail you know you could just ignore them and watch them fall out of the sky and and just press on with the mission so in that sense it was a little bit of entertainment for us flying the aircraft at Mach 3 it was almost disappointing because there was no particular sensation of speed you were too far above everything to get a sensation of speed the most impressive thing going on would be watching the instruments and seeing what an amazing Mach number you would just pass through I remember the first time I took the aircraft up to speed and into altitude I had been supersonic before and a number of air

plane

s but all of a sudden in this aircraft I went through Mach 1 and then I approached Mach 2 and it went through Mach 2 without the slightest indication of any problems and I were marveled at that and it rolled right on through Mach 3 and of course none of us had ever been that fast before but depending upon the air

plane

that particular day if it was a nice day and air

plane

was nice to you why you did all of this effortlessly and that was the feeling you had that she had control of so much power on this aircraft it was almost limitless and when you got to the desired speed and altitude you actually had to throttle back and you'd be cruising at 2,000 miles an hour with the throttle way back from its normal

full

power climb performance so the the impression you had is that you just had a vehicle with unlimited power and speed potential but...
the two years that I was Wing Commander 73 through 75 I think there were two events that that highlight the the Terr that I had of that command one was of course the October missions over the Middle East and the other was the opportunity to for the first time put the aircraft on public display overseas and in the process of getting there were authorized to set some world speed records and to take the aircraft in to Farnborough airshow and in the UK getting it over there and putting on display was enough to get us all very excited but then to be allowed to set the speed record which we knew we would set anyway whether they acknowledged it or not but they allowed us to make the official run and document the speed run so again I picked Jim Sullivan who at that time was the chief of standardization I always picked my chiefest and board as my number one guy to to fly the the big mission and again this was going to be a pre announced attempt at a world record and we had to do it once you pre announced it you can't afford to fall down and so we were very concerned that this that this go as planned we actually launched two air

plane

s out of California and the record attempt was to be from New York to London so we had two air

plane

s flying I think it was 30 minutes apart and if something happened to Sullivan before he got to New York because once he started he was on his own but if something happened to his air

plane

before he got to New York for some reason then the second air

plane

...
would make the would make the speed run but his aircraft worked flawlessly all the way across and so he set that speed record of I think it was an hour and 55 minutes from New York to London and then we were given the opportunity to send other world speed record on the return flight so I picked another crew this time I picked a young crew I wanted the young guys to know that they also had a chance to participate in these things so I picked a young crew buck Adams was the pilot who later retired as a general officer but buck flew from London to Los Angeles inset a world speed record in three hours and 55 minutes now those records would have been much shorter except that we had to do some in-flight refueling we had planned on going to London unrefueled the air

plane

is perfectly capable of doing that but the London weather was terrible it strange did to say and so we knew we were going to arrive in the London area anyway and we would still be at speed and altitude over London so we had to swing way over the English Channel half way to Paris and back to descend and decelerate to come back to farmer or land and I knew where we're gonna be unfused when when you put all that together and we had to have completely good visual conditions in order to attempt that so much the Kelly Johnson's dismay I directed that we have an in-flight refueling partway across and he called me on the phone as soon as he got the word he was most upset with me for putting in that refueling and I...
said Kelly it's going to add maybe 10 more minutes it'll be a world record no matter what they say yes but I want to do it unrefueled the air

plane

can do that I said I know what can do that but it can't do it safely under these conditions the weather is just too bad we don't even begin to meet the airforce requirements for fuel reserve and if going into an instrument condition up there Jim has to have some fuel reserve so he finally allowed us out he'd let me do that but he was very unhappy but he was there when the air

plane

landed as I was we were all in London the Farnborough waiting for the air

plane

and when he landed Kelly Johnson was absolutely ecstatic and he was so happy threw a big party for us that night and so all was forgiven after the record was set it was an hour of 55 minutes from New York to London yeah that was pretty good the previous record was something like four or five hours owned by a British pilot military pilot no no nobody could it'll never be beaten a United States Air Force Strategic Air Command weapon system the sr-71 a highly sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft of the 60s still ahead of the state-of-the-art in the 70s was first announced in February 1964 the program was started initially with a systems project office given specialized management authority and answering directly to Air Force headquarters as the program progressed the specialized management authority was transferred to the present advanced systems program...
office with complete administrative engineering and logistics responsibilities the pattern now accepted for several key Department of Defense programs the Lockheed advance development projects nicknamed the skunk works since the early 40s well known for its ability to produce in a tight security atmosphere was selected to proceed with this highly sensitive program a global reconnaissance system that would sustain altitudes above 80,000 feet at speeds beyond 2,000 miles per hour with the experience gained on the yf-12 interceptor program the task of producing the sr-71 was underway the airframe and systems design was rapidly finalized engineering drawing release moved into high gear titanium a light high temperature resistant metal was selected to endure the torturous environment of sonic flight a shop workforce already skilled and working with titanium was expanded as production tooling and assemblies take shape ship number one moved into final assembly soon another milestone is reached maintaining tight security and under the cover of darkness serial number nine five-o leaves the assembly plant the convoy delivering the first air

plane

arrives at the flight test facility this new member of the family of

blackbird

s made its debut just 22 months after go-ahead production aircraft scheduled for evaluation soon arrived at edwards flight test center almost concurrently Lockheed and Air Force flight test efforts proved the air

plane

and systems meanwhile facilities at Beale Air...
Force Base in Northern California were being readied to receive sacs new Mach 3 plus aircraft a new team was being formed members were arriving on base daily the Lockheed ADP field engineering support group formed early in the test program arrived at the operational base consisting of a small group of engineers logistics and systems personnel equipped with fast response procedures they brought the manufacturers entire support as close as the commanding officers telephone the physiological Support Division was busy processing flight crews selected from the many highly qualified volunteers from throughout the Air Force personnel were scheduled in the training animated aids familiarized students with the internal workings of the engine and system components functional aides utilizing actual air

plane

parts are used to develop operational and maintenance skills indoctrination with a spacesuit life support system required by the crews provides the newly assigned team members with first-hand information relating to the SRS hostile operating environment transition to the SR was rapidly being accomplished with introduction to the flight simulator the goal of flying the

Blackbird

is in sight flight crews experienced the operation and performance of the air

plane

and reconnaissance systems in a realistic simulation of flight flight crew and maintenance training was proceeding on schedule the all-important day is here and anxiously awaited member of the team arrives on base this first...

blackbird

received by the 9th strategic reconnaissance wing was an sr-71 be a trainer enthusiastic team members are on hand to congratulate the commander and welcome the star performance the pace quickens additional aircraft arrived new birds are on a busy flying schedule crews are eager to take to the skies the SRS dagger-like shape is thrust through the sky by more power than 45 diesel locomotives during flight the cockpit remains comfortable while just outside air

plane

skin temperatures exceed a searing 600 degrees the men flying this phenomenal machine soon were routinely flying mach 3 and beyond the team proud of their bird and the crews that fly them established an exclusive club at an impressive ceremony each crew member is awarded a Mach 3 plus pin and certificate honoring his first flight that 2,000 miles per hour the Strategic Air commands nine strategic reconnaissance wing has flown thousands of hours at Mach 3 they have pioneered sustained operational flight above 80,000 feet at speeds beyond 2,000 miles per hour carrying forward the tradition of unarmed reconnaissance living up to their motto peace through surveillance by providing information for the security of the United States and the free world the sr-71 in a single flight has flown over 15,000 miles on one mission it is capable of mapping a section of the world equal to a path 60 miles wide from San Francisco to New York the incredible

Blackbird

and the team that operates them are justly proud guardians...
of peace through surveillance you