The Blackbird

Cold war, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm - up to and including for example the A-10, F-15, Mirage 200, MiG-29, and F-18.
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MKopack

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Unread post05 Nov 2007, 02:44

"Have you ever stood in the presence of a legend?"

This is SR-71A 64-17979, at MacDill AFB in Florida in 1988.

I'm standing about 10 feet behind and to the side of the marshalling crew chief as he calls for "chocks out". The engines sound, truthfully, suprisingly normal, as the aircraft slowly pulls away and begins his long taxi towards the runway - although the hundreds of people who have come down to watch wouldn't have been any more silent had a living dragon been present. Everyone knew that something special was happening, right here in front of them. Something exotic, strangely sinister, someting with a presence unlike any aircraft I have ever been around before.

At EOR the pilot concludes his preflight checklist with a throttle-up, where the idling turbojets raise to a banshee's wail. Brakes off, and the long black bird accelerates down the runway. Soon after lifting off the aircraft goes into a bank as he begins a miles-wide circuit of Tampa Bay, until once again he begins his approach, fast and low, directly down MacDill's ramp. As the aircraft reaches our position, the pilot selects afterburner and 50 feet of flames immediately blow out each pipe, the Blackbird pitches smoothly nose up - and is gone... Back into a legand, almost as if it had never even existed...

The "Skunkworks", Kelly Johnson, Habu. The highest, the fastest. The Blackbird.

It was one of those moments that I'll simply never forget.
Mike Kopack
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post05 Nov 2007, 12:30

Sir, it would have fulfilled one of my life's dreams to see what you have just described... I know it's only a hollow wish with no chance of reality, but the Blackbird is one of the top three aircraft I'd love more than anything to ride in. The other two being the XB-70 Valkyrie and an Apollo mission... No chance of any of them I know..

Thank you very much for sharing your observations of the day.. I am truly envious of you. :thumb:
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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Meathook

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Unread post05 Nov 2007, 12:44

Mike..I could not agree more. I will dig out my old slides from my fast tour of the aircraft that I was given thanks to then (Msgt Ray Flatt). I worked for Ray at RAF Lakenheath back in 1975 for a bout six months, Ray used to be Pro-Super on the Blackbird. It had arrived at RAL Mildenhall for an "RON", it was about to make it's London to L.A. Speed record run that very morning and Ray took me and a few members of his "mid-shift" crew to meet the crew and photo the aircraft before it started up.

I never knew anything about that aircraft except it was the faster aircraft in the world and it was amazing to behold. To my surprise, the wings were dripping with fuel as it sat static but I was told as it flew and got higher, the wings stretched and heated up sealing any possible fuel leaks that we say at that time.

I watched as the pilots walked out wearing "Space Suits" basically, each carrying their portable oxygen and AC packs, it was quite the sight for me, I was then 25 years old and not fully aware of the real history I was observing. Looking back, I know not just how lucky I truly was. I will get some of those slides turned into prints and share as soon as I can but yes, I too stood in front of greatness and was in awe of it.

Amazing aircraft for sure, it created a whole new speed record that day which still stands!

Amazing just does not fit the bill, maybe remarkable works better :-)
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post05 Nov 2007, 12:58

Meathook wrote:It had arrived at RAL Mildenhall for an "RON", it was about to make it's London to L.A. Speed record run that very morning and Ray took me and a few members of his "mid-shift" crew to meet the crew and photo the aircraft before it started up.


You're kidding me Meathook?? You were THERE on the day of that run??? Mate, THAT really IS the stuff of legend... I wish now I'd known to ask you about while you were out here, but if I'd asked you all the questions I have we'd have been there for days instead of hours.. :lol: I have the takeoff of that run on one of my many Blackbird DVDs.. I think they said that in local times, she arrived in L.A about four hours before she took off from London... :shock:

A most beautiful aircraft no matter how you look at it... I fully intend to get to the US when my son is old enough to appreciate seeing such an aircraft.
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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ACMIguy

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Unread post05 Nov 2007, 16:58

Meathook wrote:I worked for Ray at RAF Lakenheath back in 1975 for a bout six months, Ray used to be Pro-Super on the Blackbird.


I remember that flight very well! I was at Soesterberg at the time. I later built some of the engine parts when I returned to the world.

What an amazing bird!
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Meathook

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Unread post06 Nov 2007, 02:28

I found my old slides, I will have them converted to photos for posting.

I took quite a few just because it was so amazing to stand it front of, I had no real idea how amazing that flight (speed record) would really be...I got some great shots. least I think so.

Give me a couple of days, I have found them (in many old boxes) I will see what my local photo lab will do for me...I think you folks will like them.

I had the date a year off, good thing Kodak printed dates on the slides back then...it was Sept 13th 1974, I had just turned 23 years old.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post06 Nov 2007, 11:01

Meathook wrote:I think you folks will like them.

I had the date a year off, good thing Kodak printed dates on the slides back then...it was Sept 13th 1974, I had just turned 23 years old.


Oh I'm SURE we'll love the shots my friend... I know I will anyway...

1974.. Yikes, I was only a couple of months past my 3rd birthday at that time..

I would love to be able to ask questions of some of the legendary and record breaking SR-71 Pilots/RSOs... Guys such as Capt. Robert Helt, Capt. Eldon Joersz (the FASTEST official Blackbird Pilot), Maj Noel Widdifield, Col. Butch Sheffield and of course, THE man with more hours in his log book above Mach 3 than anyone else alive, Col. Robert Powell (1020 hours!!!!) The ranks I have listed of course are their ranks at the time they were active in the SR. I know many of them are much further up the ladder these days of course...

When you saw the pilots Tom they would still have been wearing the older style silvery suits of course, wouldn't they?? Does anyone know what year they changed to the Hi-Viz orange colored ones?
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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Meathook

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Unread post06 Nov 2007, 12:21

As I look at these slides (holding them up to the light since I dont have a slide projector anymore) I'd say they, the flight, pressure suits are white (they could have a hind of silver in them but it is too hard to tell right now).

I will turn the photos in today and hope they will return them back in prints shortly.

I guess I forgot over the years but in these old photos, the Aircraft Ground Equipment (AGE) is the old Yellow color, man...funny how things change over the years,

I forgot everything used to be Yellow (AGE). :doh:
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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SixerViper

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Unread post06 Nov 2007, 21:32

We have a Blackbird here at the Va Aviaiton Museum sitting out in front of the museum, visible to all who pass by. Every time I see it, I wish I could have flown it. Not ridden in it, flown it. Reading the -1 for the jet, however, tells me that that airplane was a lot of work to fly at high mach number and not a joyride. Also, did you know it was not cleared for any high-g or aerobatic maneuvers? You can read the dash one at
http://www.sr-71.org/blackbird/manual/ . It is very interesting! You can also find the -1 for the A-12 and the YF-12, if you look hard enough, but I forgot the exact links.
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post07 Nov 2007, 05:25

Meathook wrote:I'd say they, the flight, pressure suits are white


I would say they're the ones I meant.. On the DVD they look more silvery, but they will be white... The footage I'm looking at was from the mid 70s..

Oh boy SixerViper, flying her would be a very daunting task indeed I'd imagine.. The thought of correcting an un-start alone would give me the shivers, let alone everything else you'd have to be watching for.. To quote RSO Lt. Col Gene Quist
I think the best way to describe the feelings of flying it were, times of boredom interspersed with moments of stark terror..
That for me, pretty much says it all.. :lol: Everyone who went up in the Blackbird earned their pay in my opinion..
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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huggy

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Unread post07 Nov 2007, 06:22

Aussie_Falcon_Freak wrote:... and of course, THE man with more hours in his log book above Mach 3 than anyone else alive, Col. Robert Powell (1020 hours!!!!)

Bob Powell comes to Oshkosh on a regular basis. We got him in this year's video, starting about the 2 minute point. Enjoy.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idwsz3yHUx8
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Meathook

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Unread post07 Nov 2007, 12:16

I turned in about ten slides to be converted to 4 by 6 photos, I was told they should be ready by Saturday...I hope so, then I'll post them.

I got my fingers crossed they don't screw them up, they are the only ones I have. It felt odd to give them up for that process, you know what I mean....sometimes you just feel odd about turning something over to a complete stranger hoping they get things done and not loose them.

Oh well, we will see how this turns out...until the weekend I will worry they don't get misplaced.
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post07 Nov 2007, 14:43

Thank you very much for that link huggy... I haven't checked it out as yet, because I'm getting ready to hit the sack before work tomorrow, but I'll be right onto it tomorrow night for sure...


I know how you feel about handing over slides that are so irreplaceable Tom.. Kind of reminds me of the episode on Married with Children years ago when Al Bundy took heaps of photos of a UFO and of him meeting the occupants.. When he went to get them developed, the processor screwed up and exposed the lot and ruined every photo and the guy in the lab asks him, "They weren't THAT important were they?? :lol: I hope your shots stay safer than that. You won't be able to get them again. By the way, do you happen to know which tail number it was? Will that be in the photos at all??
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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Meathook

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Unread post07 Nov 2007, 23:52

Tail number.....SR-71A # 61-17972
More than likely have "been there and done that at some point", it sure keeps you young if done correctly
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Aussie_Falcon_Freak

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Unread post08 Nov 2007, 05:09

You are kidding me? That is the one I am mid way through the process of building. The one I mentioned when I asked you for those landing gear and ejector photos.. I'm doing her as an LO model, but I would imagine she was in US Air Force livery the day you snapped her, right?

She's now proudly showing at the Smithsonian. Now I'm really fired up to see your shots!! :notworthy:
I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure...
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