‘I am really tired of hearing the “LA speed story” so I thought I would relay a mission that gives real perspective to the speed of the Blackbird,’ David Peters, SR-71 Blackbird pilot
The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft maintained its position as the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft for approximately 24 years. It could survey 100,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface per hour from an altitude of 80,000 feet.
It is therefore not surprising that the aircraft has set multiple speed and altitude records throughout its history because of its incredible flight qualities.
SR-71 pilot David Peters shares the amazing tale below to provide some context for the legendary Blackbird’s extraordinary top speed:
‘I am really tired of hearing the “LA speed story” so I thought I would relay a mission that gives real perspective to the speed of the Blackbird.
‘We were TDY to Det. 1 at Kadena AB, Okinawa. One of the birds was scheduled for swapping out, and my backseater, Ed Bethart, and I were to fly it home. The replacement came in on Friday, and we were to leave Saturday morning. So, in true Habu tradition, we welcomed the incoming crew and went to a happy hour Friday evening at the officers club.
‘We got up Saturday morning and got ready to go home. Departure was scheduled for 1000. Everything went well, and we left right on time. Headed out to do a pass through the Korean DMZ then into the tankers in the Sea of Japan. Good refueling and a climb out headed for the Sea of Okhotsk and the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia, and from there to more tankers off of Adak in the Aleutian Islands. Another good refueling, and on to Beale AFB, California. We arrived with a low approach, pulled up into a closed pattern, and landed. Following de-suiting and debriefing, we deposited our classified flight documents, jumped in a car, and arrived at the officers club for Friday night happy hour at 1630, 17 1/2 hours before we left Kadena.
‘Try that in any aircraft other than the SR-71. Besides this is actually a true story.’
Check out the Facebook Page Habubrats for further Blackbird photos and stories.
Photo by: David Peters and U.S. Air Force