To: (Separate email addresses with commas)
From: (Your email address)
Message: (Optional)
Send
Cancel

Thanks!

Close

14 Awesome Facts About The SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71 Blackbird first flew in 1964 and was retired by NASA in 1999. Designed ahead of its time, the Blackbird gave the United States a powerful upper-hand during the Cold War. It was literally faster than a bullet. This is what makes the Blackbird amazing:

1) At a full velocity of Mach 3.3, the Blackbird's surface heated up to temperatures of 500+ degrees Fahrenheit.

Lockheed Martin

2) No materials were available at the time to build such heat-resistant fuel cells. Instead, they were designed to allow for leakage and would subsequently expand with the heating of the aircraft, sealing the cracks. (Look at the wings below to see fuel leaking)

Wikimedia

3) Due to this critical fuel loss, the airplane had to be refueled immediately after takeoff, before it could continue with its mission.

Wikimedia

4) The Blackbird was constructed mostly out of titanium alloy, with remaining parts constructed out of high-end composite materials.

Lockheed Martin

5) The C.I.A. created several coverup companies which were used to purchase the required titanium for the construction of Blackbirds from Soviet Union.

Wikimedia

6) Pilots were required to wear pressurized flight suits to cope with the low atmospheric pressure and lack of oxygen at high altitudes.

Wikimedia

7) There's no glass panel here. The SR-71's cockpit was all-analog.

Wikimedia

8) A 747 rotates at about 155 knots during takeoff. The SR-71 rotates at a very fast 210 knots.

NASA

9) The aircraft used parachutes in combination with wheel brakes to slow itself down.

Lockheed Martin

10) Following landings, there were "cool-off" periods, when the ground crew and pilots were required to wait for the surfaces of the air frame to cool off.

Lockheed Martin

11) A total of 3,551 mission sorties were flown to spy on military installations, troop movements and nuclear silos during the cold war with Soviet Union.

Lockheed Martin

12) The SR-71's spy equipment allowed it to survey 100,000 square miles per hour of the Earth's surface from an altitude of 80,000+ feet.

Wikimedia

13) It could operate safely at a maximum speed of Mach 3.3 at an altitude more than 16 miles, or 85,000 ft, above the Earth. At top speed, it would pass the bullet fired out of an M1 Garand Rifle by over 400 feet per second.

Wikimedia

14) On March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Ed Yeilding and Lt. Col. Joseph Vida flew a Blackbird from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, setting a world speed record. Averaging 2,124 miles per hour, that record holds today.

Wikimedia

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

Images Courtesy:

Recommended Stories

Latest Stories

    Load More
    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email