MadameConcorde
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:31 pm

First of all, I have to kindly thank the dear friend who has sent me this most amazing story by email. He was British Airwas last Chief Concorde pilot and he flew the very last Concorde back to her birth place at Filton U.K. exactly 4 years ago today.  Sad

I am now posting this SR-71 fact in the memory of his sister Concorde G-BOAF, the very last Concorde to take up to the air and ever touch the ground.  Sad


SR-71 THE WORLD'S FASTEST JET FIGHTER...QUITE A STORY

In April 1986, following an attack on American soldiers in a Berlin
disco, President Reagan ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi's
terrorist camps in Libya. My duty was to fly over Libya and take
photos recording the damage our F-111s had inflicted. Qaddafi had
established a "line of death," a territorial marking across the Gulf
of Sidra, swearing to shoot down any intruder that crossed the
boundary. On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at
2,125 mph.

I was piloting the SR-71 spy plane, the world's fastest jet,
accompanied by Maj. Walter Watson, the aircraft's reconnaissance
systems officer (RSO). We had crossed into Libya and were approaching
our final turn over the bleak desert landscape when Walter informed
me that he was receiving missile launch signals. I quickly increased
our speed, calculating the time it would take for the weapons-most
likely SA-2 and SA-4 surface-to-air missiles capable ofMach 5-to
reach our altitude. I estimated that we could beat the
rocket-powered missiles to the turn and stayed our course, betting
our lives on the plane's performance.

After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted
toward the Mediterranean. "You might want to pull it back," Walter
suggested. It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full
forward. The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above
our Mach 3.2 limit. It was the fastest we would ever fly. I pulled
the throttles to idle just south of Sicily, but we still overran the
refueling tanker awaiting us over Gibraltar.

Scores of significant aircraft have been produced in the 100 years
of flight following the achievements of the Wright brothers, which
we celebrate in December. Aircraft such as the Boeing 707, the F-86
Sabre Jet, and the P-51 Mustang are among the important machines
that have flown our skies. But the SR-71, also known as the
Blackbird, stands alone as a significant contribution Cold War
victory and as the fastest plane ever-and only 93 Air Force pilots
ever steered the "sled," as we called our aircraft.

As inconceivable as it may sound, I once discarded the plane.
Literally. My first encounter with the SR-71 came when I was 10 years
old in the form of molded black plastic in a Revell kit. Cementing
together the long fuselage parts proved tricky, and my finished
product looked less than menacing. Glue,oozing from the seams,
discolored the black plastic. It seemed ungainly alongside the
fighter planes in my collection, and I threw it away.

Twenty-nine years later, I stood awe-struck in a Beale Air Force
Base hangar, staring at the very real SR-71 before me. I had applied
to fly the world's fastest jet and was receiving my first
walk-around of our nation's most prestigious aircraft. In my
previous 13 years as an Air Force fighter pilot, I had never seen an
aircraft with such presence. At 107 feet long, it appeared big, but
far from ungainly.

Ironically, the plane was dripping, much like the misshapen model I
had assembled in my youth. Fuel was seeping through the joints,
raining down on the hangar floor. At Mach 3, the plane would expand
several inches because of the severe temperature, which could heat
the leading edge of the wing to 1,100 degrees. To prevent cracking,
expansion joints had been built into the plane. Sealant resembling
rubber glue covered the seams, but when the plane was subsonic, fuel
would leak through the joints.


The SR-71 was the brainchild of Kelly Johnson, the famed Lockheed
designer who created the P-38, the F-104 Starfighter, and the U-2.
After the Soviets shot down Gary Powers' U-2 in 1960, Johnson began
to develop an aircraft that would fly three miles higher and five
times faster than the spy plane-and still be capable of
photographing your license plate. However, flying at 2,000 mph would
create intense heat on the aircraft's skin. Lockheed engineers used
a titanium alloy to construct more than 90 percent of the SR-71,
creating special tools and manufacturing procedures to hand-build
each of the 40 planes. Special heat-resistant fuel, oil, and
hydraulic fluids that would function at 85,000 feet and higher also
had to be developed.

In 1962, the first Blackbird successfully flew, and in 1966, the
same year I graduated from high school, the Air Force began flying
operational SR-71 missions. I came to the program in 1983 with a
sterling record and a recommendation from my commander, completing
the weeklong interview and meeting Walter, my partner for the next
four years. He would ride four feet behind me, working all the
cameras, radios, and electronic jamming equipment. I joked that if
we were ever captured, he was the spy and I was just the driver. He
told me to keep the pointy end forward.

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 that frequency all
the way to the coast.

The Blackbird always showed us something new, each aircraft
possessing its own unique personality. In time, we realized we were
flying a national treasure. When we taxied out of our revetments for
takeoff, people took notice. Traffic congregated near the airfield
fences, because everyone wanted to see and hear the mighty SR-71.
You could not be a part of this program and not come to love the
airplane. Slowly, she revealed her secrets to us as we earned her
trust.

One moonless night, while flying a routine training mission over the
Pacific, I wondered what the sky would look like from 84,000 feet if
the cockpit lighting were dark. While heading home on a straight
course, I slowly turned down all of the lighting, reducing the glare
and revealing the night sky. Within seconds, I turned the lights
back up, fearful that the jet would know and somehow punish me. But
my desire to see the sky overruled my caution, and I dimmed the
lighting again. To my amazement, I saw a bright light outside my
window. As my eyes adjusted to the view, I realized that the
brilliance was the broad expanse of the Milky Way, now a gleaming
stripe across the sky. Where dark spaces in the sky had usually
existed, there were now dense clusters of sparkling stars. Shooting
stars flashed across the canvas every few seconds. It was like a
fireworks display with no sound.

I knew I had to get my eyes back on the instruments, and reluctantly
I brought my attention back inside. To my surprise, with the cockpit
lighting still off, I could see every gauge, lit by starlight. In
the plane's mirrors, I could see the eerie shine of my gold
spacesuit incandescently illuminated in a celestial glow. I stole one
last glance out the window. Despite our speed, we seemed still
before the heavens, humbled in the radiance of a much greater power.
For those few moments, I felt a part of something far more
significant than anything we were doing in the plane. The sharp
sound of Walt's voice on the radio brought me back to the tasks at
hand as I prepared for our descent.

The SR-71 was an expensive aircraft to operate. The most significant
cost was tanker support, and in 1990, confronted with budget
cutbacks, the Air Force retired the SR-71. The Blackbird had outrun
nearly 4,000 missiles, not once taking a scratch from enemy fire. On
her final flight, the Blackbird, destined for the Smithsonian
National Air and Space Museum, sped from Los Angeles to Washington
in 64 minutes, averaging 2,145 mph and setting four speed records.

The SR-71 served six presidents, protecting America for a quarter of
a century. Unbeknownst to most of the country, the plane flew over
North Vietnam, Red China, North Korea, the Middle East, South
Africa, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Libya, and the Falkland Islands. On a
weekly basis, the SR-71 kept watch over every Soviet nuclear
submarine and mobile missile site, and all of theirtroop movements.
It was a key factor in winning the Cold War.

I am proud to say I flew about 500 hours in this aircraft. I knew
her well. She gave way to no plane, proudly dragging her sonic boom
through enemy backyards with great impunity. She defeated every
missile, outran every MiG, and always brought us home. In the first
100 years of manned flight, no aircraft was more remarkable.

With the Libyan coast fast approaching now, Walt asks me for the
third timeif 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, Walts 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 are quiet for the moment.

I move my gloved finger 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 formerSR-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, 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
largethrottle 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.

http://www.sr-71/
There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
 
Blackbird
Posts: 3384
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:36 pm

1,100 degrees is way faster than Mach 3.2. IIRC, the X-15 did Mach 6 for a 1200 F surface temp

Andrea Kent
(Hope I don't get a heart-attack -- if I do, you know who's to blame for it)

[Edited 2007-11-26 12:37:02]

[Edited 2007-11-26 12:37:32]
 
UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:15 am

SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:09 pm



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 1):
1,100 degrees is way faster than Mach 3.2. IIRC, the X-15 did Mach 6 for a 1200 F surface temp

 redflag 

Well considering the fact that temperature is not a direct variant of speed, you cannot calculate speed via skin temperature.

The extreme temperature is produced by numerous factors, such as altitude, humidity, skin friction (certain materials create more or less), and numerous other factors.

So once again, Blackbird thinks he has found some wacky government conspiracy... but he hasn't. You cannot interpolate that since the SR-71 had a higher skin temperature, than the X-15, than it must have had a higher speed. Faulty logic.

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 1):
(Hope I don't get a heart-attack -- if I do, you know who's to blame for it)

McDonalds, most likely.

Because the government is not going to whack you. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are far from being important in this world.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
redflyer
Posts: 3882
Joined: Thu Feb 24, 2005 3:30 am

SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:16 pm



Quoting MadameConcorde (Thread starter):
to hand-build
each of the 40 planes

Only 40? I thought I had read in several different sources a few years back that as many as 78 of the sleds were manufactured.

Anyway, great article. Thanks for posting Madame.
My other home is in the sky inside my Piper Cherokee 180.
 
474218
Posts: 4510
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:55 pm



Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 3):
Only 40? I thought I had read in several different sources a few years back that as many as 78 of the sleds were manufactured.

There were 31 SR-71's built, serial numbers 64-17950 through 64-17980. After the loss of one of the SR-71B trainers, there was an additional SR-71"put together" by Lockheed . It was serial 64-17981, it used a static test nose section and the wings and rear fuselage of a YF-12A.
 
fridgmus
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:55 am



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 2):

Blackbird's not a "he" UH60!!!  smile 
The Lockheed Super Constellation, the REAL Queen of the Skies!
 
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autothrust
Posts: 1458
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:29 am

Very fascinating piece of read, thanks for sharing it. What a amazing plane the SR-71 is and sure a legend. Would have loved to see it fly and not only on display.

IIRC the one fuel load of this special fuel did cost 200,000 $!!

Offtopic but, i readed the Concorde did expand at cruise speed about 30cm, i could imagine the SR-71 even much more.
“Faliure is not an option.”
 
opso1
Posts: 430
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 9:47 am

Phenominal insight into such a fantastic aircraft!

OPSO1
 
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SAS A340
Posts: 714
Joined: Fri Jul 28, 2000 5:59 am

SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:59 am



Quoting MadameConcorde (Thread starter):
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 that frequency all
the way to the coast.

That must have felt good to to "shut up" that F-18 pilot  Silly  Silly
It's not what u do,it's how u do it!
 
UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 9:15 am

SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:08 pm



Quoting Fridgmus (Reply 5):

Blackbird's not a "he" UH60!!! smile

Evidence suggests otherwise.
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
checksixx
Posts: 1148
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:09 pm

Whats with all the quotes from the book Sled Driver lately?? Isn't this the second thread about this same speed check incident??
 
ebj1248650
Posts: 1517
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:25 pm



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 2):
So once again, Blackbird thinks he has found some wacky government conspiracy... but he hasn't. You cannot interpolate that since the SR-71 had a higher skin temperature, than the X-15, than it must have had a higher speed. Faulty logic.

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 1):
(Hope I don't get a heart-attack -- if I do, you know who's to blame for it)

McDonalds, most likely.

Because the government is not going to whack you. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you are far from being important in this world.

-UH60

I didn't read anything at all in "her" comments that suggest she's found some sort of conspiracy. The did, on the other hand, appear to suggest the SR will go a lot faster than has been readily admitted.
Dare to dream; dream big!
 
memphis
Posts: 129
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:40 pm

woah!!! I looked up the "Sled Driver" book on Amazon, only three available, cheapest was $298.95!!! why so much? I wonder if the library would have this book, I would like to read it . . .
nocturnal
 
UH60FtRucker
Posts: 3252
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:00 pm



Quoting EBJ1248650 (Reply 11):
I didn't read anything at all in "her" comments that suggest she's found some sort of conspiracy. The did, on the other hand, appear to suggest the SR will go a lot faster than has been readily admitted.

It's what he does. It's what he has been doing for months, and even been banned for.

He posts about supposed government conspiracies, and then says something like, "If I disappear, you know who did it" or "If I die tomorrow, you'll know why" or the one he said in this thread.

He tried to suggest that the skin temperature of 1,100degrees was way beyond Mach 3.2, since the X-15 had a skin temperature of 1,200degrees at Mach 6.0... thus the SR-71 was going much faster than 3.2. Which yes, even the author admitted too... but come'on, it isn't anywhere close to 6.0, and nor can a person use aircraft skin temperature to accurately interpolate airspeed.

Blackbird does this all the time, and more people need to start calling him out on it.

-UH60
Your men have to follow your orders. They don't have to go to your funeral.
 
Blackbird
Posts: 3384
Joined: Wed Oct 06, 1999 10:48 am

SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:24 pm

Mach 3.2 certainly does not equate to anything near 1,100 F. It just doesn't. Mach 3 generally equates to skin temperatures from 480 F to ~600-ish temperatures. Temperature does not rise much from Mach 3.0 to 3.2, that's just a myth. Generally temperatures rise significantly in the hypersonic range -- this is covered in many books which cover supersonic aerodynamics.

Yes airframe design does play a role in airframe heating, but generally the better the plane is designed for the speed for which it flies in generally the lower the skin temperature. The B-58 reaches around 220 F for Mach 2, while the Concorde reaches nearly 260 F.


Andrea Kent
And BTW: I almost NEVER eat at McDonalds... so a heart-attack in me would be quite unusual... it also doesn't even run in the family, neither does cancer, or any serious disease.
 
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kc135topboom
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:26 pm



Quoting UH60FtRucker (Reply 13):
He tried to suggest that the skin temperature of 1,100degrees was way beyond Mach 3.2, since the X-15 had a skin temperature of 1,200degrees at Mach 6.0... thus the SR-71 was going much faster than 3.2. Which yes, even the author admitted too... but come'on, it isn't anywhere close to 6.0, and nor can a person use aircraft skin temperature to accurately interpolate airspeed.

That is correct, not to mention that the SR-71 and X-15 were made from different materials, those would heat up at differing rates, and to different temps.

But, Habu was still (and still is) an awsome bird.
 
redflyer
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:25 pm



Quoting 474218 (Reply 4):
There were 31 SR-71's built, serial numbers 64-17950 through 64-17980.

Thanks for the info, 474218. I recall when my interest in aviation caught fire in the early 70's I read that the "official" frame count was that less than a half dozen were built, no doubt to mislead the Soviets. In the 90's I know I had read that several dozen were in fact manufactured and that the number was north of 70 frames; apparently an erroneous report. In any event, I look forward to reading more about the Blackbird's capabilities and other details in coming years as the need for secrecy surrounding its performance capabilities subsides. I was privileged to see the Blackbird in flight when I was in Okinawa years ago. People would pour out of the barracks just to watch the "Habu" fly overhead.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 15):
not to mention that the SR-71 and X-15 were made from different materials, those would heat up at differing rates, and to different temps.

Not to mention that the SR-71 and X-15 flew at quite different altitudes with the thinner air at the higher X-15 altitude offering less resistance and heat build-up for relative speeds. The X-15 flew a trajectory that took it as high as 350,000 feet, although not all of it was at Mach 6.
My other home is in the sky inside my Piper Cherokee 180.
 
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kc135topboom
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 7:43 pm



Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 16):
Not to mention that the SR-71 and X-15 flew at quite different altitudes with the thinner air at the higher X-15 altitude offering less resistance and heat build-up for relative speeds. The X-15 flew a trajectory that took it as high as 350,000 feet, although not all of it was at Mach 6.

Habu didn't need a B-52 to get airborne.
 
fumanchewd
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SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Tue Nov 27, 2007 10:12 pm

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 14):
And BTW: I almost NEVER eat at McDonalds... so a heart-attack in me would be quite unusual... it also doesn't even run in the family, neither does cancer, or any serious disease.

How about dementia?  

I don't think that the X15 skin temperatures can be compared to the Blackbird.

Like most I have always admired this beautiful bird.

[Edited 2007-11-27 14:14:29]
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
Blackbird
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 1:54 am

RedFlyer,

Actually to my knowledge they did some flights as low as 130,000 feet (X-15), although I'm not sure of what mach number.


Chewy,

To the best of my knowledge, it does not run in my family -- so if something like that happens you know who's to blame.


Andrea Kent

[Edited 2007-11-27 17:55:33]

[Edited 2007-11-27 17:58:51]
 
kbfispotter
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 2:38 am



Quoting Memphis (Reply 12):
woah!!! I looked up the "Sled Driver" book on Amazon, only three available, cheapest was $298.95!!! why so much? I wonder if the library would have this book, I would like to read it . . .

Yep, it is an expensive book. I have two copies of it; one from the original printing in the 90's and signed by Brian Shul, and the Centenial of Flight Edition signed by Shul and a few other blackbird legends. I also have a copy of The Untouchables signed by Brian Shul. I have estimates that these three books are worth a combined $2500. If you can find a copy of either Sled Driver or The Untouchables (Brian Shuls account of the 1986 Libya Raids, with segments written by others involved), I would suggest you jump on these gems. They are some of the most sought after aviation books out there!

Kris
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MQTmxguy
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:14 am



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 19):
Actually to my knowledge they did some flights as low as 130,000 feet (X-15), although I'm not sure of what mach number

Not at mach 6. The only reason the beast could go mach 6+ was because it was at the edge of space where there is practically no air, infact as I'm sure your aware that at those altitudes the ship had to use RCS thrusters for attitude control, and the pilots were leagally awarded astronaut wings. So unless you wanna argue that the government was secretly sending the SR-71 into space...
Well at least we can all take comfort in the fact that NW will never retire their DC-9s
 
CaptOveur
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:15 am



Quoting Memphis (Reply 12):
woah!!! I looked up the "Sled Driver" book on Amazon, only three available, cheapest was $298.95!!! why so much? I wonder if the library would have this book, I would like to read it . . .

Holy crap! My dad has this book.

If memory serves the pictures alone are worth it.
Things were better when it was two guys in a dorm room.
 
MQTmxguy
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 5:31 am



Quoting MadameConcorde (Thread starter):

Thank you for posting that. Stories like these read like an erotic novel to aviation freaks!
Well at least we can all take comfort in the fact that NW will never retire their DC-9s
 
kbfispotter
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:20 am



Quoting MQTmxguy (Reply 21):
Not at mach 6. The only reason the beast could go mach 6+ was because it was at the edge of space where there is practically no air, infact as I'm sure your aware that at those altitudes the ship had to use RCS thrusters for attitude control, and the pilots were leagally awarded astronaut wings. So unless you wanna argue that the government was secretly sending the SR-71 into space...

Not that I am agreeing with Blackbird, but the speed flights in the X-15A-2 were conducted at less than 50 miles altitude (the altitude required for astronaut wings). The fastest X-15 flight "only" reached an altitude of 190000ft (36 miles), and the second fastest flight never exceeded 100000ft (19 miles). The record is 4519mph, with the second fastest flight being 4250mph. It should be noted that the high energy flights were flown with an ablative covering on the aircraft, that helped to lower the actual skin temperatures of the Inconel-X used throughout the aircraft.

Kris
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Blackbird
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:41 am

Did steel heat up better, equal or worse than Titanium?

Andrea Kent
 
kbfispotter
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 8:31 am



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 25):
Did steel heat up better, equal or worse than Titanium?

What does steel have to do with anything?

Kris
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walter2222
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:04 am



Quoting KBFIspotter (Reply 20):
Yep, it is an expensive book. I have two copies of it; one from the original printing in the 90's and signed by Brian Shul, and the Centenial of Flight Edition signed by Shul and a few other blackbird legends. I also have a copy of The Untouchables signed by Brian Shul. I have estimates that these three books are worth a combined $2500. If you can find a copy of either Sled Driver or The Untouchables (Brian Shuls account of the 1986 Libya Raids, with segments written by others involved), I would suggest you jump on these gems. They are some of the most sought after aviation books out there!

Kris

I was not aware these books were so costly...  Wow!

I also have a signed copy of "Sled Driver" (signed oct 1994), a non-singed version of "The Untouchables" and "Summer Thunder" (about the Thunderbirds).

When I ordered these books in the '90s, I had no idea they would become that rare or collectors items... but indeed beauties!!!!

Best regards,

Walter
Canon 347d mkII ;-) - EFS10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM - EFS18-55mm - EF28-105mm f3.5/4.5 - EF100-400mm f4.5-5.6l IS USM - ...
 
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kc135topboom
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:43 pm



Quoting Walter2222 (Reply 27):
I was not aware these books were so costly...

I also have a signed copy of "Sled Driver" (signed oct 1994), a non-singed version of "The Untouchables" and "Summer Thunder" (about the Thunderbirds).

When I ordered these books in the '90s, I had no idea they would become that rare or collectors items... but indeed beauties!!!!

I should have ordered Sled Driver and The Untouchables when I had the chance.  banghead 
 
474218
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 3:56 pm



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 19):
Actually to my knowledge they did some flights as low as 130,000 feet (X-15), although I'm not sure of what mach number.



Quoting MQTmxguy (Reply 21):
Not at mach 6. The only reason the beast could go mach 6+ was because it was at the edge of space where there is practically no air, infact as I'm sure your aware that at those altitudes the ship had to use RCS thrusters for attitude control, and the pilots were leagally awarded astronaut wings. So unless you wanna argue that the government was secretly sending the SR-71 into space...



Quoting KBFIspotter (Reply 24):
Not that I am agreeing with Blackbird, but the speed flights in the X-15A-2 were conducted at less than 50 miles altitude (the altitude required for astronaut wings). The fastest X-15 flight "only" reached an altitude of 190000ft (36 miles), and the second fastest flight never exceeded 100000ft (19 miles). The record is 4519mph, with the second fastest flight being 4250mph. It should be noted that the high energy flights were flown with an ablative covering on the aircraft, that helped to lower the actual skin temperatures of the Inconel-X used throughout the aircraft.

I have a complete list of every X-15 flight: Flight number 45, 11/09/61, aircraft #2, pilot Joseph White, maximum speed 6.04 mach/4,093 miles per hour, maximum altitude 81,000 feet.

It seems Ms. Blackbird is correct.
 
redflyer
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:37 pm

Quoting 474218 (Reply 29):
I have a complete list of every X-15 flight: Flight number 45, 11/09/61, aircraft #2, pilot Joseph White, maximum speed 6.04 mach/4,093 miles per hour, maximum altitude 81,000 feet.

What was the skin temperature of that flight at Mach 6.04? More importantly, how long was that speed maintained? As I recall, X-15 flights were a dash to the top (speed or altitude), which lasted just a few minutes. The SR-71 sustained Mach 3+ speeds for long periods of time at altitude.

But that is an interesting piece of information you posted. I didn't realize the 15 flew those speeds at such a relatively low altitude.

[Edited 2007-11-28 08:43:15]
My other home is in the sky inside my Piper Cherokee 180.
 
kbfispotter
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 4:43 pm



Quoting 474218 (Reply 29):
I have a complete list of every X-15 flight: Flight number 45, 11/09/61, aircraft #2, pilot Joseph White, maximum speed 6.04 mach/4,093 miles per hour, maximum altitude 81,000 feet.

I am looking at my listing of the flights right now, and the speed (High Energy) flights were made towards the end of the program with the modified X-15A-2. Pete Knight flew flight 2-53-97 (the 188th fligth of the program) on Oct 3 1967. It appears that my earlier post about this flight was incorrect: the maximum altitude on this flight was 102,000ft. This comes from the official flight listings in the back of Dennis Jenkins excellent book Hypersonic. But, like I said earlier, these flight were made using the highly modified X-15A-2, and used a special ablative heat shield material to shield the aircraft from the high heat from aerodynamic heating. Even with this ablative, the structual damage was so intense that the aircraft was retired after this flight as uneconomical to repair back to full flight status.

Kris
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474218
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 6:03 pm

.

Quoting 474218 (Reply 29):
I have a complete list of every X-15 flight: Flight number 45, 11/09/61, aircraft #2, pilot Joseph White, maximum speed 6.04 mach/4,093 miles per hour, maximum altitude 81,000 feet.

Sorry but I have to correct the altitude (the lines kinda run together) correct altitude was 101,800 feet. First flight of manned aircraft over mach 6.

Another: Flight 97, 12/05/63, aircraft #1, pilot Robert Rushworth, maximum speed 6.06 mach/4018 miles per hour, maximum altitude 101,000 fleet

All the other mach 6 flights were late in the program.
 
bennett123
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:38 pm

Does'nt a fighter need by definition to be armed.
 
rwessel
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Wed Nov 28, 2007 11:08 pm



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 33):
Does'nt a fighter need by definition to be armed.

Well, you can always ram. Kinda hard on the pilot though.

In WW2, a common technique to intercept V-1s ("buzz bombs") was to tip them by sliding your fighters wingtip underneath the V-1's. The fairly delicate autopilots tended to react badly to the sudden upset. Some pilots considered "tipping the doodlebug" a safer and more reliable technique than trying to hit the thing with gun or cannon fire. The aircraft dedicated to V-1 intercepts were all tweaked for maximum speed by removing all unnecessary weight, including most of the armor, tweaking the engine, and cleaning up the aerodynamics as much as possible. There are stories that some pilots took off with minimal or non-existent ammunition loads just for a few extra knots of airspeed, and even in some cases with the guns removed.
 
Flighty
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:45 am

Sounds like the author might have hit 2,500 mph that day, or around Mach 3.6.
 
Blackbird
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 2:38 am

Flighty,

2,500 mph at high altitude is around 3.93 Mach... (speed of sound above 30,000 - 35,000 feet = 660 mph)


Andrea Kent
 
Stealthz
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 3:08 am



Quoting Blackbird (Reply 36):
(speed of sound above 30,000 - 35,000 feet = 660 mph)

To be truly pedantic, only to something like 65,000 feet where the speed of sound starts to rise again until approx 170,000 feet where at about 737mph it starts to fall again(starts rising again at about 340,000 feet but that is getting academic!)
If your camera sends text messages, that could explain why your photos are rubbish!
 
RC135U
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 4:44 am



Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 16):
I was privileged to see the Blackbird in flight when I was in Okinawa years ago. People would pour out of the barracks just to watch the "Habu" fly overhead

Based out of Kadena our lumbering RC-135M would be on station for the Habu's pass along the eastern reaches of the Soviet Union. It was fascinating listening to the Soviet controllers and the PVO fighter pilots trying unsuccessfully to intercept. Always had a great respect for the rugged Soviet aircraft and the pilots, but the Habu was simply several magnitudes of "awesome" beyond anything else in the air anywhere.
 
wvsuperhornet
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:19 am

Only one problem the SR-71 wasnt a jet fighter it was used as a recon aircraft. But it was the fastest.
 
fridgmus
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:32 am

I've read somewhere, I can't recall where, that during the Cold War, the US bought titanium from Russia through front companies as Russia was/is the largest manufacturer of titanium.

If true, that's pretty cool, buying titanium from the Russians to build an aircraft to spy on them!!!

Can anyone verify?

Thanks,

Marc
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Zkpilot
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:00 pm



Quoting Fridgmus (Reply 40):
If true, that's pretty cool, buying titanium from the Russians to build an aircraft to spy on them!!!

If memory serves me correct, the USA bought Alaska from Russia also and has been laughing all the way to the oil pump ever since.
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bennett123
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 1:51 pm

Zkpilot

That was in 1867(?).

You could equally point out that New Orleans and all points west was purchased from France.

David
 
474218
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 5:11 pm



Quoting Bennett123 (Reply 42):
You could equally point out that New Orleans and all points west was purchased from France.

Not quite true, read about the Gadsden Purchase.
 
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kc135topboom
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Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:10 pm



Quoting Zkpilot (Reply 41):
If memory serves me correct, the USA bought Alaska from Russia also and has been laughing all the way to the oil pump ever since.

I don't think so. The Russians have something like 4X the oil reserves (in Siberia) of Alaska and Anwar combined.
 
MQTmxguy
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Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:12 am



Quoting KBFIspotter (Reply 24):
Not that I am agreeing with Blackbird, but the speed flights in the X-15A-2 were conducted at less than 50 miles altitude (the altitude required for astronaut wings). The fastest X-15 flight "only" reached an altitude of 190000ft (36 miles), and the second fastest flight never exceeded 100000ft (19 miles). The record is 4519mph, with the second fastest flight being 4250mph. It should be noted that the high energy flights were flown with an ablative covering on the aircraft, that helped to lower the actual skin temperatures of the Inconel-X used throughout the aircraft.



Quoting 474218 (Reply 29):
I have a complete list of every X-15 flight: Flight number 45, 11/09/61, aircraft #2, pilot Joseph White, maximum speed 6.04 mach/4,093 miles per hour, maximum altitude 81,000 feet.

After reading KBFIspotter's response to my post a quickly did some research into the matter in hopes of rebuking him. Alas I cannot, he is correct about the fastest fight. On 03 October 1967 Capt. William "Pete" Knight took the X-15A-2 to mach 6.7 (4529 MPH, 7272.6 KPH) at an altitude of 36.3 miles (~191,664 feet.) The highest flight was on 22 August 1963, NASA pilot Joseph Walker flew an X-15A-1 to 354,200 feet, slightly over 67 miles at a MV of 3794 MPH.

But to the original point, Blackbird, you cannot use X-15 skin temp figures to interpolate speeds for the SR-71 as there are tons of variables including skin material, drag profile, ambient temperature, barametric pressure, and altitude( it may not have been 67 miles, but the fastest X-15 flight was still over twice as high as a normal SR-71 flight) . Do you know the different heat conduction properties for titanium vs Inconel-X? On top of that there is no data standard that makes the X-15 any kind of anolog for the SR-71, i.e. the flights were all at different altitudes and speeds in a different aircraft.
Well at least we can all take comfort in the fact that NW will never retire their DC-9s
 
redflyer
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RE: SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Fri Nov 30, 2007 7:44 pm



Quoting MQTmxguy (Reply 45):
the flights were all at different altitudes and speeds in a different aircraft.

And for different durations at altitude.
My other home is in the sky inside my Piper Cherokee 180.
 
Thorny
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RE: SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Fri Nov 30, 2007 8:52 pm



Quoting Fridgmus (Reply 40):
I've read somewhere, I can't recall where, that during the Cold War, the US bought titanium from Russia through front companies as Russia was/is the largest manufacturer of titanium.

If I recall correctly, U.S. titanium came from South Africa.

Quoting 474218 (Reply 43):
Not quite true, read about the Gadsden Purchase.

And Texas. And California. Neither were part of the Louisiana Purchase.
 
474218
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RE: SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Fri Nov 30, 2007 10:07 pm



Quoting Thorny (Reply 47):
And Texas. And California. Neither were part of the Louisiana Purchase.

And neither were purchased!
 
Blackbird1331
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RE: SR-71- The World's Fastest Jet Fighter...

Fri Nov 30, 2007 11:38 pm

Thanks for the post. A very good story. A great plane. Well ahead of its time.
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