Morning Cup O' Joe

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The SR-71 Blackbird

 Wwds Files 2007 11 Sr71 1
The SR-71 represented cutting-edge government technology back in the 1960s. Even today, its capabilities are nothing to scoff at (though I can only guess what the government is currently employing in the SR-71’s stead).

Here’s a great post of a memoir of an SR-71 pilot. Great stuff:

We trained for a year, flying out of Beale AFB in California, Kadena Airbase in Okinawa, and RAF Mildenhall in England. On a typical training mission, we would take off near Sacramento, refuel over Nevada, accelerate into Montana, obtain high Mach over Colorado, turn right over New Mexico, speed across the Los Angeles Basin, run up the West Coast, turn right at Seattle, then return to Beale.

Total flight time: two hours and 40 minutes.

One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’
ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was. ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded.

The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’ We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.


November 27, 2007 - Posted by | Science and Technology


  1. Awesome plane (if it qualifies as such), great quote.

    Little bit of history…
    The SR-71 was the last aircraft developed by Lockheed’s Skunkworks in which the design involved NO COMPUTERS. They used slide rules! Kinda’ crazy to even consider in our computer-saturated world of today, especially considering its awesome-factor …of 11.

    Comment by DT | November 27, 2007

  2. I’m with Mike on the idea of *what* we have secretly flying around up there now days. That’s a thought that often goes through my head when I read about amazing technologies that are still cool even today… and they are from the 60’s.

    Comment by Joe | November 27, 2007

  3. With our technology increasing by multitudes since the 1960’s. I would suspect the replacement be not bigger than a bread box and as quick as a meteor, skipping across the top of our atmosphere like a flat stone across a pond.

    Comment by Dan Freeman | December 26, 2007

  4. Dan is right. Satellites.

    Comment by Gary Odle | August 31, 2008

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