The SR-71, once the stunning visual representation of American air dominance, is now an antique. The world’s fastest jet propelled aircraft, once known for high altitude spy missions, now streaks across the wide open spaces of our imaginations. But NASA has just put up a veritable library of SR-71 footage, and it is a great way to kill some time.
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Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works division has conceived some odd aircraft. The SR-71 Blackbird is one that dominated the late stages of the Cold War. This was the spy-plane of choice for the United States, and one that no other country ever matched.
The dual afterburners produce 34,000 pounds of thrust. The plane is capable of flying 35 miles per minute. That breaks down to 3,100 feet per second, which is way faster than most bullets.
And now NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center has published archival footage from flights originating from Dryden/Edwards Air Force Base. Many of these include footage of the SR-71.
Taxi and Takeoff:
Getting the SR-71 off the ground wasn’t easy. Fully fueled, the plane needed a reasonable runway to get up to speed, primarily because of the limited surface area on its wings.
It doesn’t do you any good to fly so high if you can’t fly far. And the SR-71 was dependent on mobile flying gas stations.
Flying this fast produces intense heat. The friction of the air over the surface of the plane could increase temperatures by 900 degrees.
If getting off the ground seemed challenging, landing was worse. Slowing down is easy. Slowing down and landing is another story. The plane required parachutes to slow it down, and sometimes that didn’t work as planned.
Check out the videos. They’re amazing. This was a huge gamble, and an incredible experiment that required some brave pilots.