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SR - 71, A Pilot's Memories from about 40 years ago

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Col. Buzz Carpenter recounts the power and majesty of the Blackbird (www.chonday.com) עוד...

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bbabis
Bill Babis 8
Great story. I loved that we "boomed" other heads of states' meetings. Something our sorry political whimps today wouldn't dream of doing.
preacher1
preacher1 4
I particularly enjoyed his statement in there about it being the only airplane, that the faster it went, the less fuel it burned.
jteague3
John Teague 1
YEAH THAT WAS COOL. WONDER WHAT THE TOP SPEED WAS....LIKE MACH3....
preacher1
preacher1 2
I'm a thinkin' that Mach 3 was at the top.
tcmarks
Tim Marks 4
Mach at 85,000 feet is somewhere around 700mph and with the 'official' speed record reported at 2185 mph that puts the speed at mach 3+. Unofficial reports of close to 2300 mph from rumors circulating in the late 1970s and early 1980s could put the speed closer to mach 3.2 - all anyone can say is WOW!
oowmmr
oowmmr 2
I just got a reply back from my dad, who was an Aeronautical Engineer at Ames his whole working career and says its Mach 3.5.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
That fits pretty well. I remember reading my first article about it in '65 or '66 in of all places, Mechanics Illustrated. The author wrote of a 2 min turn starting well below Chicago and taking it well into Canadian airspace. My reaction hasn't changed much over the years. WOW! hardly covers it.
linbb
linbb 1
Am looking forward this spring to visit the retired head of maintenance out of Beal AFB and possibly hearing some tails from him. He retired before the AC but was the first one and was appointed before they had the AC at the base. By the way it was a WW11 army training base for foot solders.
preacher1
preacher1 1
I don't know the total history, but in 1968, Beale had the Blackbirds and Tucson(Davis - Monthan) had the 100th SRW which was the U2's. They are now all or were at Beale. As Tucson was a SAC base, I suppose the took them all that way when the commands were reorganized. DM was an oddity, a SAC base with TAC having the largest presence on the flight line with F4's and C130 training. SAC had the SRW and missile wing. TAC and it's successors took over the base as majcom when SAC left.
jteague3
John Teague 4
That is a super bad aircraft.....
ChuckVanzant
Chuck Vanzant 2
A Blackbird SR-71 lost an engine in our airspace and had to land at Reese AFB, (Lubbock)Texas in 1968. Our base immediately went into high security; air police and auxiliaries were called out. Everyone lined up outside our engine shop, flight line mechanics, and all traffic sent to airbases nearby. Our T-37 and T-38's were routed out of airspace. The SR-71 could be seen at a long distance with billowing black smoke preparing to land on final. Upon landing, it was immediately whisked into a hanger and doors shut. Two days later a Black C-130 landed with a replacement engine. The blackbird lined up on our runway and blasted straight up and poof disappeared. A lifetime experience, indeed!
Sgt. USAF, AFSC 43250
bbabis
Bill Babis 3
That crew did a great job. Engine failure or "unstart" in the Blackbird was a very serious event. The aircraft defined operations at the edge of the envelope and the operational loss of 20 out of 50 airframes proved that point.
smoki
smoki 1
Okay, I get it. It was a fast flying machine with lots of git-up-and-go that required a full pressure suit be worn to operate it at it's normal mission altitude. Because of its speed capability, faster than a speeding bullet, a unique metallurgical and aerodynamic design was required which was far ahead of its time thanks to the genius of Clarence Kelly and the folks at the Lockheed skunk works and the research gained via the X-series test vehicles. It's mission was photo recon which it obviously accomplished with an unprecedented capability. Piloting it was doubtless a demanding task that I would guess relied heavily on a high fidelity stability augmentation system to include an auto-pilot to control it with precision when traveling at mach 3 plus. But time marches on and it's technology is unfortunately as old as that of the Apollo Moon Landing program or 40 years plus. Technology for the sake of space exploration seems to have stagnated with a dependence still on vertical rocket launches and ocean splashdown recoveries now that the space shuttle like the Blackbird has been retired. High flying spy planes like the Blackbird have been replaced by spy in the sky satellites which have thus far mapped with incredible accuracy much of the earth's surface as evidenced by google earth/maps. Strangers now know as much about the layout of my ranch property and what's on it as I do. They have only to fire up their computer, PC or handheld device and look it all its many details without ever setting foot on the property. That was made abundantly apparent to me not so long ago when a total stranger came to my door to inquire about a couple of junk piles I had at the back of my property that he requested permission to sift through for the purpose of collecting all the scrap metal for sale. He described it all with total accuracy much to my amazement. And today as I was chatting with a customer service rep about switching to their high speed internet service via wireless tower relay (AtLinkServices) she said "just a moment while I look to see if you're within the coverage area of this one particular tower" whereupon she went to google earth and zeroed in on my property and began to describe it with accuracy for the sake of confirming it and its location. If anyone dares think we're not being watched and recorded they're kidding themselves and that includes from the surface as well as from space. Give me your address and I can probably within a few minutes zero in on a photo of the front and/or rear entrance to your home.
rad2
Roger Deeringer 1
I always enjoy seeing these fine machines at the various museums. I do think this film was shot at Pima County. March Field is developing the SR-71 display. That will be spectacular when finished. When I stand nose on, my mind floats to what is really out there now. Is it all satellites? Or is there a next generation or two of these Blackbirds in the skies now?
preacher1
preacher1 2
I could be wrong but I have always had the gut feeling that the next generation is out there.
bbabis
Bill Babis 2
I think they're out there also but they are probably unmanned. Even saving the whole human survival part of the design, I'm sure it's still pretty expensive.
randomguy
randomguy 1
The footage with Buzz I think is at Udvar-Hazy center (part of the Smithsonian, but out near IAD (Washington-Dulles)) -- the backdrop and areas around looks like what I remember seeing there.
oowmmr
oowmmr 1
Its about the same age as me but it still looks good...THE PUFF!!!
jensen51
Robert Jensen 1
A GREAT AMERICAN. GLAD HE IS ON OUR SIDE. YOU HAD TO BE THE BEST TO BE EVEN SELECTED TO FLY THE SR-71. ABSOLUTELY THE LOUDEST AIRPLANE NOISE I EVER HEARD. I WAS AT AN AIRSHOW AT NORTON AFB IN THE 80'S, AND RIGHT BY THE RUNWAY AT TAKEOFF AND A FEW LOW PASSES. IT WAS AWESOME!!! IT SHOULD STILL BE FLYING LIKE THE A-10
jensen51
Robert Jensen 1
NORTON HAD A GREAT AIRSHOW PROGRAM AND THEY ALLOWED PRIVATE PILOTS TO FLY THEIR PLANES ONTO THE FIELD. I MET AN SR-71 PILOT AND WE REALLY HIT IF OFF. HE TOLD ME WHERE TO STAND BY THE RUNWAY AND THAT HE WOULD MAKE 2 LOW PASSES AND ROCK HIS WINGS FOR ME. AND THEN HE WENT STRAIGHT UP AND CLIMBED LEFT OVER THE SAN BERNADINO MOUNTAINS AND HEADED FOR PALMDALE.
IT WAS SO LOUD THAT IT ACTUALLY MADE YOU FEEL SICK AND VERY UNCOMFORTABLE. BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY SEDCOND TO WITNESS IT.
randomguy
randomguy 1
Your shift key is stuck, sir.
aeroflyer
aeroflyer 1
I was at the same airshow at Norton in the early 80's. I also met the aircrew and ground team. It was indeed an awesome display for a public airshow. Couple years later, they performed at Beale AFB. From initial tanker launch to the SR-71A takeoff. SR refueled off the BAY AREA, then did a Mach 3 overfly at 70,000 over the airshow crowds. And the 3 shock wave booms were bone jarring. SR did 2 passes, one with a U-2R, before landing.
oowmmr
oowmmr 1
Seems I remember a pulsing sound, do you?
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1
40 years ago - holy cow! From the looks of it, it could be today. Does anyone know why it was retired and not in use today? Such a shame to let something like that sit in a museum.
rad2
Roger Deeringer 1
The things I have read and seen on documentaries, is that the mission went away and satellites and other means are available to accomplish the reconnaissance. If you google "sr-71 successor" there are some interesting items, but I'm not sure any of these are real.
Starman535
Robert Black 1
I hope I can see one of those great planes someday. The Blackbird (IMHO) is simply the coolest aircraft ever. They smoked the pants off all the tin-horn dictators in the world, and would continue to do so today if they hadn't been mothballed.
hldunk
HL Dunkle 1
In 71-72 we used to go to the golf course restaurant at Kadena to watch the launch of the SRs, I can remember a breaking shoot causing an gear accident. Also while flying at the Kadena Aero Club at Yomitan and having an SR fly below my C150 (Yomitan was higher than Kadena) What a sight.
AlbertKohler
Albert Kohler 1
Several new (to me) SR-71 comments from Col Buzz Caarpenter.
Al K
sadieee
s. j. drake 1
If anyone wants to see one in a museum, ck out the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. Located in Hutchinson, Kansas, the SR.-71 is on grand display. They actually built the museum around that glorious bird. Living in this town I see it often and never grow tired of her majesty. She looks fast just hanging there! Check out the web page. If you love space, science and flight it is quiet a beautiful museum.
steve4bike
Steve Strickland 1
Have been "Boomed" several times. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
johnmomoore3
John Moore 1
What a great aeroplane I saw one at Duxford museum, I would loved to have seen one in flight.
oberbeck
Robert Oberbeck 1
Here is another story about an SR-71 "problem". http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/X-Press/SR-71_spotlight.html In the middle of the page, in 1997 this NASA SR-71B made an appearance at EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh. They came by so fast I didn't realize it was a B Model until I looked at the pictures I took. After a couple of passes they headed east to refuel over Lake Michigan before their flight back to California. I saw them come back at high altitude but then turned south and landed at Milwaukee. I had a friend at the 128th Air Refueling who took me out to the runway in a golf cart to watch them take off after the repairs. I was told it cost $12 million to fix it. I never knew about the problems they had over Nebraska. I had the good fortune to work with the film from the SR-71 from SE Asia when I was in the Air Force.
mhlansdell00
Mark Lansdell 1
Thanks. I learn a little something new after each new to me articcle. I can't say this airplane was responsible for me gooing after my first ticket, but I can certainly say it helped move me off my wallet for flying lessons. 37 ours later was just the begining. I wonder how many other pilots Kelly Johnson made.
ChuckVanzant
Chuck Vanzant 1
An SR-71 is on display at the Huntsville Space Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
Top of the day to everyone. Go Air Force!
intdln
Dennis Noah 1
Today where is the American spirit and assertiveness that brought sound of freedom sonic booms over heads of state? I cannot imagine that our CIC would order such missions. Saw this aircraft years ago takeoff from a military base where I was stationed. It still stick in my mind as the most amazing sound and sight I ever experienced. Truly made me proud to wear US uniform. This country needs that sense of pride today.
enjoyaviation
enjoyaviation -7
The shockwave is the sound of freedom?.... Really?

#'Murica
tcmarks
Tim Marks 12
Yes. If you understand the history of the Vietnam war and the significance that Hanoi played in the strategy of the war, creating that incredible 3 sortie sonic boom at that time was a milestone political warning to the NVA and communist China....and a sign of hope to the POWs being held in Hanoi.
zennermd
zennermd 5
Well said Tim.
linbb
linbb 2
YOU GOT THAT RIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every time I hear an armed forces jet go over its the sound of freedom to me and the ability to live a life without fear like in other country's . I live not far from Klamath Falls OR where they train AF and Guard pilots to keep us free. When in town and they are shooting touch and goes sometimes drowning out all background noise its music to me.
enjoyaviation
enjoyaviation -4
Bahaha you guys really don't have a clue!
AWAAlum
AWAAlum 1

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