The SR-71 Blackbird is a very, very unique plane. It was a plane that was ahead of its time. It was a stealth plane, before the concept of stealth planes existed.
Here are three very interesting things that I’ve learned about the SR-71.
- It leaked fuel when it was on the ground. The plane was built so that when it flew at high altitudes and high-speed, it flew like one solid mass. The gaps in the fuselage, put in place to allow for expansion of the joints while it was flying at high speed and high-altitude, meant that when the plane was on the ground it leaked fuel like crazy. So when it was on the ground it was mostly kept empty of fuel.
- The SR 71, was capable of flying faster than 1.6 miles per second. It flew faster than a speeding bullet. Literally, as fast if not faster than the Superman of the comic books of yore.
- It’s the only plane, that used less fuel the faster it flew. The engines were designed as ramjets. At high altitudes and high speed the air would force its way through the engine without the engine having to do much work.
- The operational altitude for the plane, was 80,000 feet. The maximum ceiling for the plane, was 95,000 feet. Why is that significant? Because as of today the beginning of outer space starts at 100,000 feet. Several crew members on board blackbirds received their astronaut wings after coming back from a mission because they went over the hundred thousand feet mark.
- While flying at three times the speed of sound, at 80,000 feet, it was almost impossible to shoot down a blackbird. In fact, no blackbird was ever shot down. If you were to talk to a pilot of a Blackbird, they would tell you that usually all they needed to do was “give it a little bit more gas” and the missile would not be able to hit them.
I had the opportunity to see Blackbird in person in McMinnville, Oregon at the Evergreen aviation Museum.
The plane is imposing. Even though I knew the plane was 107 feet long and 18 feet high seeing it in person just put that into perspective. It’s a very long and very lean plane. It is definitely a sight to see.
If you’re ever in the Portland, Oregon area, I suggest you take the ride out to McMinnville and check out the Evergreen aviation Museum so can see their SR-71.
Oh yes, before I forget, they also have Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose at the Museum. In fact the Spruce goose is the Evergreen’s main attraction. As impressive as the Goose is, I sometimes feel like the Blackbird should be the main attraction.