/ The SR71 Blackbird

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Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
Fantastic pilot's description of flying the world's fastest plane on a reconnaissance mission over Libya.

With the Libyan coast fast approaching now, Walt asks me for the third time, if I think the jet will get to the speed and altitude we want in time. I tell him yes. I know he is concerned. He is dealing with the data; that's what engineers do, and I am glad he is. But I have my hands on the stick and throttles and can feel the heart of a thoroughbred, running now with the power and perfection she was designed to possess. I also talk to her. Like the combat veteran she is, the jet senses the target area and seems to prepare herself.

For the first time in two days, the inlet door closes flush and all vibration is gone. We've become so used to the constant buzzing that the jet sounds quiet now in comparison. The Mach correspondingly increases slightly and the jet is flying in that confidently smooth and steady style we have so often seen at these speeds. We reach our target altitude and speed, with five miles to spare. Entering the target area, in response to the jet's new-found vitality, Walt says, "That's amazing" and with my left hand pushing two throttles farther forward, I think to myself that there is much they don't teach in engineering school.

Out my left window, Libya looks like one huge sandbox. A featureless brown terrain stretches all the way to the horizon. There is no sign of any activity. Then Walt tells me that he is getting lots of electronic signals, and they are not the friendly kind. The jet is performing perfectly now, flying better than she has in weeks. She seems to know where she is. She likes the high Mach, as we penetrate deeper into Libyan airspace. Leaving the footprint of our sonic boom across Benghazi , I sit motionless, with stilled hands on throttles and the pitch control, my eyes glued to the gauges.

Only the Mach indicator is moving, steadily increasing in hundredths, in a rhythmic consistency similar to the long distance runner who has caught his second wind and picked up the pace. The jet was made for this kind of performance and she wasn't about to let an errant inlet door make her miss the show. With the power of forty locomotives, we puncture the quiet African sky and continue farther south across a bleak landscape.

Walt continues to update me with numerous reactions he sees on the DEF panel. He is receiving missile tracking signals. With each mile we traverse, every two seconds, I become more uncomfortable driving deeper into this barren and hostile land. I am glad the DEF panel is not in the front seat. It would be a big distraction now, seeing the lights flashing. In contrast, my cockpit is "quiet" as the jet purrs and relishes her new-found strength, continuing to slowly accelerate.

The spikes are full aft now, tucked twenty-six inches deep into the nacelles. With all inlet doors tightly shut, at 3.24 Mach, the J-58s are more like ramjets now, gulping 100,000 cubic feet of air per second. We are a roaring express now, and as we roll through the enemy's backyard, I hope our speed continues to defeat the missile radars below. We are approaching a turn, and this is good. It will only make it more difficult for any launched missile to solve the solution for hitting our aircraft.

I push the speed up at Walt's request. The jet does not skip a beat, nothing fluctuates, and the cameras have a rock steady platform. Walt received missile launch signals. Before he can say anything else, my left hand instinctively moves the throttles yet farther forward. My eyes are glued to temperature gauges now, as I know the jet will willingly go to speeds that can harm her. The temps are relatively cool and from all the warm temps we've encountered thus far, this surprises me but then, it really doesn't surprise me. Mach 3.31 and Walt is quiet for the moment.

I move my gloved finder across the small silver wheel on the autopilot panel which controls the aircraft's pitch. With the deft feel known to Swiss watchmakers, surgeons, and "dinosaurs" (old- time pilots who not only fly an airplane but "feel it"), I rotate the pitch wheel somewhere between one-sixteenth and one-eighth inch location, a position which yields the 500-foot-per-minute climb I desire. The jet raises her nose one-sixth of a degree and knows, I'll push her higher as she goes faster. The Mach continues to rise, but during this segment of our route, I am in no mood to pull throttles back.

Walt's voice pierces the quiet of my cockpit with the news of more missile launch signals. The gravity of Walter's voice tells me that he believes the signals to be a more valid threat than the others. Within seconds he tells me to "push it up" and I firmly press both throttles against their stops. For the next few seconds, I will let the jet go as fast as she wants. A final turn is coming up and we both know that if we can hit that turn at this speed, we most likely will defeat any missiles. We are not there yet, though, and I'm wondering if Walt will call for a defensive turn off our course.

With no words spoken, I sense Walter is thinking in concert with me about maintaining our programmed course. To keep from worrying, I glance outside, wondering if I'll be able to visually pick up a missile aimed at us. Odd are the thoughts that wander through one's mind in times like these. I found myself recalling the words of former SR-71 pilots who were fired upon while flying missions over North Vietnam . They said the few errant missile detonations they were able to observe from the cockpit looked like implosions rather than explosions. This was due to the great speed at which the jet was hurling away from the exploding missile.

I see nothing outside except the endless expanse of a steel blue sky and the broad patch of tan earth far below. I have only had my eyes out of the cockpit for seconds, but it seems like many minutes since I have last checked the gauges inside. Returning my attention inward, I glance first at the miles counter telling me how many more to go, until we can start our turn. Then I note the Mach, and passing beyond 3.45 (2625mph), I realize that Walter and I have attained new personal records. The Mach continues to increase. The ride is incredibly smooth.

There seems to be a confirmed trust now, between me and the jet; she will not hesitate to deliver whatever speed we need, and I can count on no problems with the inlets. Walt and I are ultimately depending on the jet now - more so than normal - and she seems to know it. The cooler outside temperatures have awakened the spirit born into her years ago, when men dedicated to excellence took the time and care to build her well. With spikes and doors as tight as they can get, we are racing against the time it could take a missile to reach our altitude.

It is a race this jet will not let us lose. The Mach eases to 3.5 as we crest 80,000 feet. We are a bullet now - except faster. We hit the turn, and I feel some relief as our nose swings away from a country we have seen quite enough of. Screaming past Tripoli , our phenomenal speed continues to rise, and the screaming Sled pummels the enemy one more time, laying down a parting sonic boom. In seconds, we can see nothing but the expansive blue of the Mediterranean . I realize that I still have my left hand full-forward and we're continuing to rocket along in maximum afterburner.

The TDI now shows us Mach numbers, not only new to our experience but flat out scary. Walt says the DEF panel is now quiet, and I know it is time to reduce our incredible speed. I pull the throttles to the min 'burner range and the jet still doesn't want to slow down. Normally the Mach would be affected immediately, when making such a large throttle movement. But for just a few moments old 960 just sat out there at the high Mach, she seemed to love and like the proud Sled she was, only began to slow when we were well out of danger. I loved that jet.
a crap climber - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
Where did you find that? Is it recent? I thought they had all been mothballed.

I think I want to be a blackbird pilot
mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
wbo - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry: My gran didn't like them - she lived opposite Mildenhall and said they were notably louder than anything else, and always took off really early in the morning.
But still amazing,
mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to wbo:
they were notably louder than anything else, and always took off really early in the morning.

You'd be in a hurry to take off as well if your plane leaked fuel while it was sat on the runway :-)
ballsac - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

all gone now - but i want to be clear, i never, ever saw one leave RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, and i certainly never saw it return and sit in a hanger surrounded by Americans with rifles - none of whom would respond to invites to BBQ's...

whether its been replaced by something faster, higher flying and a bit stealthier is a matter of conjecture.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to ballsac: I saw it fly at Mildenhall airshow (guessing about 25 years ago) It really captured my imaginiation. It took off on one engine (because too loud with both apparently...whether true or just to add to the drama I will never know). Amazing plane. Almost up there with the Vulcan (my favourite) ;-)
dissonance - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to ballsac:

> whether its been replaced by something faster, higher flying and a bit stealthier is a matter of conjecture.

didnt the US gov continually deny the existence of the SR71, even after it got displayed at airshows.
a lakeland climber on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

I saw that (and the rest of the piece) about two months ago, forget where - it arrived via an RSS feed (RIP Aaron Swartz) - the bit that I found amazing was when he realised that he was so high he could turn off the cockpit instrumentation lights and fly by star/moon light.

Amazing machines

ALC
Darren Jackson - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

My mate Dave swears blind that they also operated a carrier-based VTOL version, with submersible capabilities, called the SR72 Pelican. I don't believe him and reckon that he'd just got a bit mixed up after watching Stingray whilst he was off his face.
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

iirc the only American military plane to never have been downed in combat. Obviously it had a couple of advantages in this respect (altitude and speed).
I like how they never ever looked "old fashioned" even after 20, 30, 40 years :-)
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Darren Jackson:

What WAS your mate on?

What a dick.









It was the SR72 Shag
owlart - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry: They have a Blackbird on display at IWM Duxford, and last time I was there they had an ex USAF pilot giving talks around it, recalling his experience of flying it. It sounded amazing, although the method of restarting the engines if they flamed out sounded somewhat scary - an explosive liquid injected into the engine. You had something like 4 shots, then you ran out!
Darren Jackson - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
>
> iirc the only American military plane to never have been downed in combat.

Hasn't the F-15 got a similar record? I know that it's the only aircraft to have claimed a satellite kill, anyhow.
ballsac - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to owlart:

i'd love to know what the SR-71's glidepath would be from mach 3.5 at 80,000ft - i reckon if the engines flamed out over Libya it could still land at Mildenhall!
mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to ballsac:
Given the drag heats it up to 300C I assume it will lose some of that speed pretty sharpish. Doubt it is quick to stop though!
macstinator on 14 Jan 2013
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Darren Jackson:

I don't know. I imagine "downed" and "in combat" can have very wide interpretations to suit the purposes of fanboys of a particular aircraft!
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Darren Jackson:

I read somewhere (probably M.A.D. Magazine taking the mickey!) that the A-10 "Thunderbolt" could make a reasonable crash landing with all of one wing shot off and half the other wing missing :-)
aultguish on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
Sat on the grass next to the runway at an overseas military base taking in the sunshine, when I was lucky enough to witness a U2 land, roll down the runway and take off again.
ads.ukclimbing.com
mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Blue Straggler:
I read somewhere (probably M.A.D. Magazine taking the mickey!) that the A-10 "Thunderbolt" could make a reasonable crash landing with all of one wing shot off and half the other wing missing :-)

The most impressive fact about it is the gun generates 40kN of recoil and each engine only generate 41.3kN of thrust! Given it can fly on one engine, you could probably fly it backwards if you could carry enough ammo.

Mikkel - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

Get hold of the book Skunk Works and read the pilot tales in the back of that.

One guy is telling about flights over Russia, where he can see the Russian interceptors below him being shot down by their own SAMs in an attempt to get him.

Stuart (aka brt) - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to macstinator:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
>
> http://www.econrates.com/reality/schul.html

I hope that's true because it's a fabulous story.
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):
> (In reply to macstinator)
> [...]
>
> I hope that's true because it's a fabulous story.

I think the USAF stopped decapitation before this story was written :-)
(w.r.t. "the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading" )
abzmed on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Game of Conkers:
> (In reply to ballsac) . Almost up there with the Vulcan (my favourite) ;-)

We're lucky enough to have XH558 the last remaining air worthy Vulcan based in Doncaster, sadly, 2013 may well be the final year she flies.
Come up and see the old girl before she finally retires forever.

http://www.vulcantothesky.org/

LastBoyScout on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):

There's another variant of that story, probably made up, that starts with 1-upmanship on altitude, roughly as follows:

Cessna asks for clearance to 10,000'
Plane 2 asks for clearance to 20,000'
Airliner asks for clearance to 32,000'
Blackbird asks for clearance to 60,000'
Tower disbelivingly says "what, nothing flies at that altitude"
Blackbird replies "Uh, we're descending to 60,000'"!
Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Stuart (aka brt):
> (In reply to macstinator)
> [...]
>
> I hope that's true because it's a fabulous story.

It is I was going to post that also, I think they're passages from a book called Sled Rider which was going for around 100 a copy last time I looked.

Apparently when it sat on the runway with fuel pissing onto the tarmac some pilots would do a streak down the runway from one end to another just to get some heat into the body before take off. It was always fueled not long after take off.

I also met a USAF engineer in Norfolk 2 yrs ago who tried to get on the project but he told me they always had their own guys who followed the plane around. He was bunked up with a couple of them at Mildenhall once when the SR71 was flying the next morning to California. He was told the flight time was 3.5hrs!

Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to owlart:
> (In reply to Steve Perry) They have a Blackbird on display at IWM Duxford,

I've seen it! It's totally awesome that man could make something like that so long ago, it wouldn't look out of place if it was made tomorrow.

Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

I always wanted to see a Blackbird (saw plenty of U2's taking off/landing from UK airfields) but never did until I went to New York and saw the one sat on the deck of the old aircraft carrier. Amazing looking aircraft.

As aluded to above by another poster, the thing which intrigues me is whether the US really do rely upon satellites and drones now or whether they have something similar/better than the Blackbird. For ages people talked about Aurora but nothing concrete emerged. When you look at the stealth fighters/bombers and the old spy aircraft, there's something like a 20 year gap between design and acknowledgement of their existance and even B2's are now 70's/80's technology. Even ignoring really off the wall sci fi stuff, it's hard to know what might be out there now.
IainRUK - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
>
> I always wanted to see a Blackbird (saw plenty of U2's taking off/landing from UK airfields) but never did until I went to New York and saw the one sat on the deck of the old aircraft carrier. Amazing looking aircraft.
>
> As aluded to above by another poster, the thing which intrigues me is whether the US really do rely upon satellites and drones now or whether they have something similar/better than the Blackbird.

I don't get the issues with drones.. they've just removed the weakest link.. the pilot.. the pilots who for long missions they doped up on drugs (amphetamines).. then people wonder about friendly fire incidents and some of the commentary on strikes which make it sound like they are playing computer games..




Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to mkean:
>
> The most impressive fact about it is the gun generates 40kN of recoil and each engine only generate 41.3kN of thrust! Given it can fly on one engine, you could probably fly it backwards if you could carry enough ammo.

It takes 2.5hrs to load the ammo into the carousel for the gun and 12 secs of firing to empty it all. You wouldn't get far.

Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Well yes I suppose but the thing that fascinates a lot of people is whether they now having something stealthy which conceivably goes faster. There's even a school of thought that the US did build "Aurora" but effectively scrapped it in favour of different technologies.

Whilst the pilot could be seen as a weak link; I'm not entirely sure that's true as remote control is not the same as being sat in the cockpit and, whilst humans can make mistakes, they can also make intuitive leaps etc that computers can't. The real advantage of drones is cost (or relative lack of) and being able to operate them without too much concern over the material and human cost of losing them.
IainRUK - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall: I understand that, but anything over 6 hrs then that pilot will most likely be on some sort of concoction.. so I'd rather trust a sane bloke at a desk..

I don't know what is currently taken, a decade ago speed was the drug of choice.. even if that isn't something will have replaced it.
Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:..
>
> I don't know what is currently taken, a decade ago speed was the drug of choice.. even if that isn't something will have replaced it.

Red Bull, apparently it gives you "Wings"

Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> so I'd rather trust a sane bloke at a desk..

Have you read the myriad of articles on line about PTSD etc for drone pilots and the recent reports about lack of quality/training in UK drone operators?

Also, spy plane pilots don't drop bombs/fire missiles and B2 bomber pilots will almost certainly be dropping most of their bombs on pre programmed targets. The sort of friendly fire/collateral damage type incidents won't be as a result of long distance missions or at least it won't have made any difference to the end result.
IainRUK - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> [...]
>
> Have you read the myriad of articles on line about PTSD etc for drone pilots and the recent reports about lack of quality/training in UK drone operators?
>
> Also, spy plane pilots don't drop bombs/fire missiles and B2 bomber pilots will almost certainly be dropping most of their bombs on pre programmed targets. The sort of friendly fire/collateral damage type incidents won't be as a result of long distance missions or at least it won't have made any difference to the end result.

There was a court case about a friendly fire incident and the use of speed..

There was also a recent court martial where a guy snapped after a mission and punched a female police officer.. just after 1 pint.. he never knew he was given such drugs before the mission... it all came out after drugs tests..

I'm sure things can be improved on the drone front, I just think the removal of a pilot has been the aim for 20 years +.. I thought they said aircraft design was being held up by the inability of a pilot to cope with G and prolonged missions..
aultguish on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Skyfall) I understand that, but anything over 6 hrs then that pilot will most likely be on some sort of concoction.. so I'd rather trust a sane bloke at a desk..
>
I've ran this wee scenario past quite a few pax in the past, whilst toddling along through the sky (helicopter). Not one has said they would be happy with their pilot sat back on the ground.

mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
It takes 2.5hrs to load the ammo into the carousel for the gun and 12 secs of firing to empty it all. You wouldn't get far.

They'd never forget you at the local airfield though!

aultguish on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to mkean:
When you're on the ground, underneath (NOT in front;-) of an A10 and it lets rip with its cannon, what an amazing sound :-))
Tony Naylor on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
Saw one of these in a museum. A wonderful looking aircraft.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> There was a court case about a friendly fire incident and the use of speed..

Fair enough but I am surprised if they are using drugs for normal missions. It's hard to see how a friendly fire incident could arise from the sort of mission that's so long you would benefit from drugs. Can you recall any more or link to anything?

> There was also a recent court martial where a guy snapped after a mission and punched a female police officer.. just after 1 pint.. he never knew he was given such drugs before the mission... it all came out after drugs tests..

And the impact on the mission was...? Many servicemen have short fuse issues when they come back from active service.

> I'm sure things can be improved on the drone front, I just think the removal of a pilot has been the aim for 20 years +.. I thought they said aircraft design was being held up by the inability of a pilot to cope with G and prolonged missions..

Yet drones tend to be relatively slow flying, at least currently.
ballsac - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to LastBoyScout:

i've heard something similar but it included an F/A-18 pilot asking (in a show off styleee) for altitude and speed readout from the ground radar so as to 'hot dog' it over the civvy aircraft.

the SR-71 then also asks for a speed and altitude readout from ATC, and the F/A-18 pilot goes very quiet...
dissonance - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall:

> Fair enough but I am surprised if they are using drugs for normal missions. It's hard to see how a friendly fire incident could arise from the sort of mission that's so long you would benefit from drugs. Can you recall any more or link to anything?

here you go. its not so much the length of an individual mission but how many in a short period.

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/01/17/1042520778665.html

> Yet drones tend to be relatively slow flying, at least currently.

that seems to be a deliberate choice for the particular environment they have been finding themselves in for the last few years and also a preference for stealth technologies to keep them out of trouble rather than outrunning everything.
cb294 - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to aultguish:

When I was a boy, A10s would regularly make practise runs at tanks parked on a road a couple of km from my parents house. They would ignore all minimum flight levels, coming in low enough to blow tiles of roofs, then turn away sharpish with full thrust, banking 90 before disappearing over the crest of the hill.

Annoying, but impressive...

CB
IainRUK - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2595641.stm

That's the friendly fire incident.. if you google US air force and amphetamines you'll get all the links.
captain paranoia - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

I remember the SR-71 appearing at the Farnborough air show many years ago; quite incredible machine, setting the official transatlantic speed record on the way...

There's one on a big stick outside the San Diego aerospace museum. Beautiful, but very sad it should end up on a stick, rather than ripping through the upper atmosphere.

Worth remembering when it was designed; Kelly Johnson started work on the design in 1957, IIRC.
Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Interesting. However, taking v small doses for stimulant effect is not quite the same as your average user being off his/her tits on recreational drugs.
In reply to Steve Perry: I'm sure I heard that they were supposed to be called RS71, but the president who announced it got it wrong, and they changed the designation to suit.
Mikkel - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

There is one in the Americn hangar at Duxford. Seattle Museum of Flight also got one.
Paul Evans - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
Love both of these stories and the SR71 has to be my fave aircraft ever. And Skunk works book is well worth reading. The reason they didn't like to fly it much above mach 3.2 was they were worried about the cockpit window fittings melting. Skunk works has the story of the new SR71 pilot who the first time he went supersonic radio'd in panic that his nose was coming off. He landed without incident, it was just the titanium buckling with the heat ("they all do that sir") and the ground crew smoothed it out with a blowtorch. They reckon the aircraft were stronger when they retired them than when they were first made. The titanium was heat annealed.

Paul
Mikkel - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
There's even a school of thought that the US did build "Aurora" but effectively scrapped it in favour of different technologies.

Aurora was build, it was the code name used in the budgets for the B-2
itsThere on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Paul Evans: i also read that the ram jets had more chance of a blowout at higher speeds, so they went sligtly slower. it may have been from wiki. the pilots had to listen for burbles from the engines and slow down a bit if they heard anything.
aultguish on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:
In my job, I'm lucky enough to have had many 'friendly' interactions with military aircraft whilst airborne.
A fantastic view of the Vulcan as I was coming into Liverpool (it was heading for the Southport airshow). I was hovering over the car factory and he was doing a touch and go on the runway.
I was cleared initially to 3000ft after leaving Cambridge and on an opposite path at 2000ft, went the Battle of Britain memorial flight underneath me.
About ten years ago, I'd left Blackpool airport and headed through the Warton MATZ (military air traffic zone). Warton cleared me at 1500ft for transit and then asked if I was happy to have a Tornado pass 500ft below and 500ft above..........happy!?!?
What a site, I watched them both roll out down the runway together and then just come at me, absolutely amazing, I didn't know which one to look at :-)
It's great flying around the Spadeadam area enroute to Scotland, there's always lots of activity there :-))
Very privileged.
mkean - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to itsThere:
http://www.thedigitalaviator.com/blog/?p=504

Felix Baumgartner eat your heart out, how to parachute in style :-)
Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to mkean:
> (In reply to itsThere)
> http://www.thedigitalaviator.com/blog/?p=504
>
> Felix Baumgartner eat your heart out, how to parachute in style :-)

Wow!
captain paranoia - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

d'oh! It's an A-12 at San Diego, not an SR-71. Very similar, but...
Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Mikkel:

> Aurora was build, it was the code name used in the budgets for the B-2

You must know that's only what some people assume and what the US gov't appear happy for people to assume. And yes I've read Skunk Works. It is one explanation. However, the B2 does not explain the suggested performance for the Aurora (sonic booms and measurements over California indicative of Mach 5) and arguably the timescale for the budgets doesn't actually tie up, and budget holes till exist, supposedly. I think most people are assuming Aurora isn't now being used to any great extent - maybe it was even superseded. Whatever, you can bet that they are working on something and by definition it will be close to 20 years more advanced than anything we have seen and will probably look just as weird as when the Blackbird and subsequently the stealth fighters/bombers were unveiled.
captain paranoia - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

<geek>
Reminds me... one day I will get around to building the 1:72 Revell model of the SR-71 I picked up cheap in TKM a few years ago (I think it has a drone as part of the kit, too). Trouble is, I always hated Revell's cheapskate way of doing panel detailing, which was to have the detail raised, as opposed to Airfix doing it properly with recessed panel details.

Easier to make the molds, of course.

So I'll have to remove all the detail, and carefully scribe it back in place...

http://www.revell.com/model-kits/aircraft/85-5810.html

</geek>

Mmmm... Blackbirds...

http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/181rufrmncsekjpg/original.jpg

BTW, this seems to be the pilot in the above report:

http://www.sleddriver.com/
captain paranoia - on 14 Jan 2013
Mikkel - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:
seen it with drone in seatle.
and i want to make an rc version of the drone.
Tom V - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:


Sounds like a wonderful machine. Nearly as impressive as a Deltic :)
Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Tom V:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
> Sounds like a wonderful machine. Nearly as impressive as a Deltic :)

It's good Tom but not that good.
Blue Straggler - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to captain paranoia:

I think they blew up a poor Revell model of an SR-71 in the 1985 film D.A.R.Y.L. with a rubbish special effect
mgco3 - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry: I have to admit when I saw one in New York I wasn't impressed ( designed to fly not sit in a museum , crying shame) but the thought of Gadaffi cowering in his bunker every time one flew over just to take some snapshots had me peeing myself laughing.
Orgsm on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

That used to be a good card in my top trumps in the 70's
Steve Perry - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to A Game of Chance:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
>
> That used to be a good card in my top trumps in the 70's

Err Top Speed? :-)

Orgsm on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

Altitude as well I think
itsThere on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to Skyfall: how about this x37-b, the US is yet to admit what its for why they need it http://www.google.co.uk/#hl=en&safe=off&tbo=d&output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=x37...
Skyfall - on 14 Jan 2013
In reply to itsThere:

Indeed - not aurora - basically an unmanned ' v high altitude' spy platform. Not very flexible though as slow manoeuvrability once in orbit.
David Martin - on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to Steve Perry:

50 Shades of Grey for male readers.
drmarten on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to David Martin:
> (In reply to Steve Perry)
>
> 50 Shades of Grey for male readers.

There may be something in that, I've had this tucked away in my favourites for a few years and haven't got round to reading it, however I think some of the thread posters may like it.

http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/manual/

aultguish on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to drmarten:
This saddo will, thanks very much for posting this :-))
mikehike on 15 Jan 2013
In reply to drmarten:
I think I drop this into our engineers manuals .pdf database at work ;-)

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