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Picture of the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird aircraft

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More: USA - Air Force
More: Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
More: In Flight
More: USA - California, August 1979
Remark Photographer
61-7964 (cn 2015) Shot from T-38 chase plane while on assignment for National Geographic magazine. Beale AFB (KBAB) in the background.
More: David O. Hill
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Photo added: June 7, 2006
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Visitor comments (52)   [Hide]Post your own comments by rating the photo above!
A visitor from - posted Fri October 24, 2014:
This is why USA is USA

A visitor from - posted Sat July 19, 2014:
Clearly the most amazing airplane in its own right that the USA has ever built. The next is the B-2. Different technologies but the SR-71 is just bad a$$

A visitor from United States posted Tue June 17, 2014:
In the early 70's I believe a Soviet pilot by the name of Victor Belenko. (hope the timeline and spelling is correct). He flew his Mig-25 Foxbat from a base in Russia across the Sea of Japan to a US air base in Japan and defected. The US and Japan officials had the chance to take apart the Foxbat piece by piece. Belenko admited to the Americans that it was frustrating that the SR-71 could fly freely across Russia on missions and there was nothing they could do to touch it with its speed and altitudes it could operate at. He said they could run at full afterburner for just a couple minutes in the Mig-25 and the Blackbird would streak across the skies at Mach 3. By the way after a few months the Americans and Japan returned the Mig-25 to the Soviets in large wooden crates aboard a ship.

A visitor from - posted Tue June 17, 2014:
Amazing aircraft. Was stationed in Alaska when Blackbird did missions and worked in hangar where it was held when not in service. It does sadden me to see comments back and forth comparing it against other aircraft. Who cares at this point in reality? Imagine the technology that could be developed if we stopped spending on developing things to destroy each other and developed technology for the good of all. Sigh.

A visitor from Canada posted Fri January 24, 2014:
Love the photo.

A visitor from Sweden posted Mon August 5, 2013:
Great shot. But was it Untouched? Swedish air force Viggens got radarlocks on the Blackbird a couple of times in the 80's and USAF has (at least unofficially) confirmed this.

A visitor from - posted Wed July 10, 2013:
Great photo!

A visitor from United States posted Tue July 9, 2013:
A great shot of an SR-71 like this is rare. The aircraft was designed 50 years ago and even today in 2013 it still looks like something from the future! While the MIG-31 might have been able to get high and fast enough for a short period of time combined with advanced missile technology to be a threat to the Blackbird, no aircraft has been built since capable of extended flight at Mach 3 and 80,000ft. The Blackbird still reigns supreme!

A visitor from - posted Sun November 11, 2012:
The MIG 31 was PARTLY to blame for the SR71 withdrawal. 8th March 1984 a pair of mig 31s blocked an SR71 over neutral waters so effectively that it had to return to base without fulfilling its assignment. Gordon Yefim Famous russian aircraft mig 31. 2005

A visitor from - posted Wed December 21, 2011:
Can I ask the obvious.....well, I guess it would have ben obvious all those years agao as well. But anyway, how "secret" could the SR have been when you consider that it was a supersonic aircraft? I mean, first flight over hostile territory....BOOM !.....secret's out. All done. What am I missing here?

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Sat October 1, 2011:
The Blackbird is a legend of the skies!

A visitor from United States posted Sat October 1, 2011:
Totally Gorgeous. I saw SR-71s flying at a couple of airshows. Two things struck me about it most: it looked much larger in person than I thought it would, and when banked hard over going through a few low clouds (so you could see the whole planform), it looked as if it came from another planet, not a man-made aircraft at all, it was t-h-a-t impressive. No other flying machine ever gave me even a fraction of that feeling.

As far as "retirement" goes, that isn't the point. The point is no matter where it went - the Soviet Union, China, East Germany, North Korea, etc., etc. - it was never touched by anything or anyone, no matter how hard they tried (and they tried very, very hard for many, many years). That's the point.

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Tue May 31, 2011:
SR-71 air-air, it simply doesn't get better than that!!

A visitor from - posted Tue May 31, 2011:
The SR-71 in my book will always be "The best of the best" While my late father was stationed at Kadena AFB we used to watch and snap pics in awe each time.

A visitor from United States posted Fri April 29, 2011:
This is easily the finest A2A shot of the SR-71 I have ever seen! BTW, as has already been mentioned, the SU-31 had nothing to do with the decision to "retire" the SR-71; It's "mission" became unnecessary; (advancement in satellite technology), not to mention every single mission carried a "price tag" of over a million bucks! (that's "too expensive" even for the U.S.A.F., when you have "other means" that will accomplish it cheaper)

A visitor from - posted Fri April 29, 2011:
"The retirement of the SR-71 had nothing to do with the MiG-31. The Russian Federation/USSR wasn't the only opponent we planned for."

YEAH, RIGHT! :-)) Development of MiG-25 and later MiG-31 was the ONLY reason for the retirement of SR-71 as a reconnaissance aircraft. Some other reasons included the fact that at high speeds the air passing over the lenses became visible and blurred images from SR-71. But those were only secondary. And despite existence of other targets for SR-71, USSR has ALWAYS been the program's primary objective, don't kid yourself, amigo. And didn't we kick some a$$ with our MiG-31, did we! :-)) PEACE! AND thanks to the photographer!

A visitor from Sweden posted Thu February 10, 2011:
Last comment is absolutely right. Swedish JA 37 Viggen fighter pilots, using the predictable patterns of SR-71 routine flights over the Baltic Sea, have managed to lock their radar on the SR-71 on numerous occasions. Despite heavy jamming from the SR-71, target illumination was maintained by feeding target location from ground-based radars to the fire-control computer in the Viggen (yes, this is copy/paste from Wikipedia). All this was of course done with friendly intentions.

A visitor from United States posted Fri October 29, 2010:
For the record, the SR-71 was retired because of Advance Satellites, the upcoming development of UAV's and the ever-growing cost of maintaining/operating the Blackbird. The U-2S can provide the stop-gap from there. The retirement of the SR-71 had nothing to do with the MiG-31. The Russian Federation/USSR wasn't the only opponent we planned for. DtD - USAF, Ret (Yeah, I'm retired, too. "I may not be as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was...") :)

A visitor from Netherlands posted Fri October 29, 2010:
One way or another, this plane stays, tho not my fave, the most awesome aircraft ever when you're speaking total and true awesomeness only. I don't really mind if she could have been brought down by an even faster flying Russian missile or not, the Blackbird itself is , and I have nothing against the post-communism Russians, technically speaking the most advanced plane ever, easily beating anything Russian, including for awesomeness. By the way, I don't think that anything could threat this superb plane after all, since it is not only superior in speed over any aircraft, but it is stealth (as much as they could make it in the seventies) too, therefore giving missiles a limited chance of succes.

A visitor from Russian Federation posted Fri October 29, 2010:
For visitor from Canada: the combination of 2.82M MiG-31 with 4.5M AA-9 long range rockets was the main reason for SR-71 decommissioning

A visitor from - posted Wed September 8, 2010:
Great Shot of my favorite Aircraft! the Immortal SR-71, by the way, Jetfire. is that you? :)

A visitor from Canada posted Wed September 8, 2010:
This is one of my favorite planes ever! Simply amazing! Congrats!

A visitor from Canada posted Sun August 8, 2010:
The Mig 31 entered service in 1982, with a service ceiling of only 67,000ft, top speed Mach 2.83. The first retirement of the SR71 was late 1989, seven years proof that NO Mig31s could bring down an SR-71 flying at 85,000ft, Mach 3.2+ No contest.

A visitor from - posted Fri August 6, 2010:
Very nostalgic to me. Reminds me the memories I have from my teenage time when I used to cut and collect airplane pics from magazines. And it was an unforgettable moments in my life when I had a chance to see and touch the legendry SR71 in Duxford. (Ali Aminzadeh)

A visitor from New Zealand posted Fri August 6, 2010:
What a beautiful aircraft!!!

A visitor from United States posted Fri August 6, 2010:
I just have to respond to an earlier comment from someone from Russia who said " the SR-71 had to retire when the Russians came up with the SU-31". You've got to kidding, right ? No aircraft ever made by man ever made the SR-71 retire. It was the advent of the high-tech satelite that the US has deployed in the past decades that allowed the SR-71 to retire. Like the feared Mig-25, the SU-31 in full afterburner would be be left helpless as the Blackbird rocketed by it at nearly 2,200 mph.

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Fri August 6, 2010:
It takes a lot of money to make it fly. Special fuel - only for this type of aircraft. Special flight routine: take off with minimal fuel and long refuelling from tanker. Let him rest on a pension.

A visitor from Yemen posted Mon June 7, 2010:
Wish it was still flying - the most awesome and beautiful machine ever built bar none. I feel very lucky that I got to see it fly. I doubt anything will ever come close now that projects are run by accountants instead of pioneers. RIP Kelly Johnson.

A visitor from United States posted Fri April 30, 2010:
Even though it's been around for awhile, the SR71 is still an awesome aircraft! I live near Beale, and back in those (late 70's) days, the sound was unmistakable!! I'd rather listen to an SR-71 take off than the local rock & roll radio station...

A visitor from - posted Tue March 30, 2010:
Ya done good!!!

A visitor from United Kingdom posted Tue March 30, 2010:
I love the SR71. I actually got a model of this very aircraft 17964 and even in 1/72 it looks impressive and fast. Great historical photo.

A visitor from Austria posted Fri August 28, 2009:
This is the most beautiful airplane I have ever seen - unfortunately much too expensive to keep!!!

A visitor from Spain posted Thu April 16, 2009:
I just love the SR-71A and the whole story behind its design and operation.

A visitor from Iran, Islamic Republic Of posted Sat September 15, 2007:
Wonderful photo from a rare-to-see aircraft.

A visitor from Russian Federation posted Sat September 9, 2006:
Beautiful bird, but had to retire when Soviet Air Forces bought some MiG-31

A visitor from Belgium posted Thu August 10, 2006:
Very nice

A visitor from United States posted Fri August 4, 2006:
Who said the Blackbird was ugly?! Then you've never
seen one up close (I have, as several airshows, on static display within 50 feet). One of the most graceful, beautifully designed aircraft you'll ever see (the designers of the Blackbird also built the
L-1011 TriStars).

A visitor from United States posted Sun July 23, 2006:
Great shot of a great aircraft. Go USA.

A visitor from United States posted Tue July 4, 2006:
Cool

A visitor from United States posted Sat June 24, 2006:
One of the 5 most beautifully designed jet airplanes I have ever seen. What an intimidating look! The KGB agent who got the first photo of the SR-71 must have crapped his pants!

To Lockheed and the great men who designed and tested this machine - Thank You!

A visitor from - posted Mon June 12, 2006:
Every angle of this venerable bird screams Blazing speed. Shot at Many times but Never once shot down, this 40-year old design still looks Very 21st century-ish, though long retired. She remains the world's Fastest & Highest flying jet. Thanks, David, for sharing this picture.

A visitor from United States posted Mon June 12, 2006:
An awesome aircraft that I used to watch near RAF Mildenhall many years ago. Wonder what else is out there now, so many years ahead of the game!

A visitor from Germany posted Fri June 9, 2006:
It's one of the best birds of the world. Great to find a good picture of the SR-71, because it isn't easy to find a brilliant pic of the Black Bird on Airliners.net

A visitor from Hong Kong posted Fri June 9, 2006:
I just love this sexy Blackbird!

A visitor from United States posted Fri June 9, 2006:
I feel this is one underrated plane for the era it was designed in. I love seeing any pictures of these planes

A visitor from United States posted Fri June 9, 2006:
This plane is one of the most beautiful planes around.

A visitor from Netherlands posted Thu June 8, 2006:
An excellent shot, but in my opinion it's an ugly airplane.

A visitor from Portugal posted Thu June 8, 2006:
My favourite plane ever, beautiful.

A visitor from United States posted Thu June 8, 2006:
This picture brings back a lot of fond memories watching the SR-71. I grew up just 5 miles from the approach to Beale AFB and would always run outside when I heard the SR-71 fly by even though it was an every day experience. I really miss seeing this bird these days. Thanks so much for sharing!

A visitor from United States posted Thu June 8, 2006:
A great shot of one of my favorite planes! Thanks for sharing!
Tony

A visitor from Germany posted Thu June 8, 2006:
A great shot of a legendary masterpiece of avionic.

A visitor from France posted Thu June 8, 2006:
Simply the best of this one!

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