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I have a uncle who was one of the original 13 pilots, he also flew the U2. He is still around and still can't reveal much about it. Just guessing about 70% of the airplane and missions are still classified! The only plane that was fast enough to train in for the SR was the B-58. When flying up north, if they detected a missile launch, all they had to do was advance the throttles a bit and simply out run it!! What an era!!
 

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Thanks for the links LoB, and thanks to the folks who posted the photos!

Now I know what I want from Santa!
Zoom, zoom!


louie, out!
 

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51 years ago tomorrow, the first flight commenced. Check out this video about the Pratt & Whitney J58 Turboramjet:

[ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3ao5SCedIk#t=335[/ame]
 

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The article mentions 'putting two Buick Wildcats together to start the engines'. Not quite so. Two 8cyl Buick engines drove the start cart for the aircraft. Power was transmitted by two gears, one on the cart, the other in the SR71 nacelle.

I also saw one started by locating an engine inlet at the exhaust of a KC135 engine. Started it right up. This was at an air show at Barksdale AFB in 1974. The SR took off and the pilot immediately requested landing clearance at Edwards AFB...he was just 45 minutes away. I was in the tower watching the aircraft leave following the show.

Was at Kadena in 1972. The SR would fire up inside its hangar and taxi to the end of the runway (no other air traffic during launch and recovery) and immediately take off, going nearly vertical to cruising altitude. We would time the interval from the point the ship began moving until the point it was naked eye out of sight. On a clear day, this was just 21 seconds.

Amazing technology for its time.
 

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hands down my favorite USAF airplane. recently viewed one at the Air and Space museum which was awesome to say the least. Even got the T shirt!!! in one word Badass.....
what an engineering marvel
 

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5 years supporting the mission of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale...

those of you who say "i cant talk about", the program has been declassified in its entirety post Clinton's retirement after the reactivation in the mid-90s...

Nixon had nothing to do with the mis-naming or alleged mis-naming of the SR-71. it was his predecessor Johnson

Colonel Richard Graham (USAF Ret) has 3 books out that completely explain how the plane worked, what the missions were like and discusses the sensor and camera packages. all proceeds from HIS books (unlike Shul's) go to the J.T. Vida memorial fund. LtCol Vida basically gave up his career fighting the penny-pinching short sighted asses in the pentagon (think Larry Welch and his ilk) to keep the program alive and upgrading the airframe with real time imagery downloads and the like. after he hung himself out to dry, the decided to defund the program...

the start carts were originally equipped with 2 Buick Wildcat engines of 401cid. sometime in the mid-70s they were replaced with 454 cid Chevys. these engines spun a tandem input transmission with a vertically raised, spinning shaft that spun a corresponding shaft in the engines. once up to speed and setting the throttles to the proper setting (i dont remember what that was) a one oz shot of Triethylborane or TEB was injected into the fuel stream. TEB was so volatile that it exploded when it contacted air and that ignited the fuel. Beale got air start systems installed in the planes individual hangars, but the start carts were still used at the Dets and whenever the plane was being launched from a non-standard location. rumor has it the one of the reasons the start carts went to Chevy motors from Buicks were in part because some of the crew chiefs were then able to borrow hi-po parts for their cars. the bowtie engines were balanced and blueprinted at a speedshop in sacramento but i dont recall the name of the shop. its still in business though i believe...

speaking of cars when i got to Beale in 86 they were in the process of phasing out the powder blue El Caminos (early 80s models) and bringing 5 liter Mustang LX's on for the purpose of Chase/Pace. its pretty difficult to shoot a bird landing from the back seat over a radio stack that reached nearly to the ceiling but it was certainly fun to blast down the runway a couple of times before landing to check for FOD and then afterward to chase after the planes...

HABU's were what mission rated pilots were called. upon landing from their first solo, their necktie was cut off at the knot and put in the squadron bar with name and date. it is also the name of the indigenous black snake on Okinawa. i used to have a photo of the tie tree from the squadron but its been lost to memory. they also received their Habu patch (similar to this one but not the same. they were the most controlled item i ever saw in the Air Force). originals were on light blue twill, not embroidered...


the aircraft at Hill AFB is the only SR-71c ever produced. it is the front half of an SR-71 static test unit and the back half of a YF-12. the SR-71b that remains (of the 2) is in Kalamazoo Michigan at the Air Zoo...

i shot a lot of officer portraits for SR and U-2 pilots over those 5 years and i also shot lots of images for the route maps...

Get Colonel Graham's books great reads and they support an even better cause...

this is me in 961 at Beale. we had a reunion for the 67th Armored Infantry Battalion (Beale AFB started life in October 42 as Camp Beale with the 13th Armored Division) and we toured the flight line and i was given the chance to sit in the hangar queen. i also got to sit in the simulator with Lt General Burpee when he visited and did some familiarization flights


heres an evening launch
 

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eglin afb nprth east fla and battleship alabama museums have blackbirds on display
 

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SR71 on display at the Evergreen Air Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Along with an X15, some really cool Russian fighters and of course the Spruce Goose. This is one of, if not the, best museums on the west coast.
 
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