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Marta Bohn-Meyer, the only female crew member to fly in the SR-71 Blackbird

by Till Daisd
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Congresswoman Beverly Byron was the only female woman to have flown on the legendary SR-71 Blackbird; she did it as a VIP guest in 1985

The photos in this post feature Marta Bohn-Meyer, the only female crew member who flew the historic SR-71 Blackbird.

Marta Bohn-Meyer, who was born in 1957, started working in the aerospace industry in the late 1970s while attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York. She took part in a cooperative research and education program run by the school at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, for three years, according to Cosmosphere Blog.

After completing her studies, she worked as an aeronautical research and operations engineer at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (formerly Dryden). After 22 years at this same place, she would finally advance to the position of chief engineer after holding some more responsible roles, such as:

Beginning in her teen years, Marta Bohn-Meyer’s favorite place was in and around airplanes, both at work and while off duty. She was an accomplished private pilot and flight engineer and was the first female crew member to fly at Mach 3 in the SR-71.
  • Project manager for the F-16 XL Supersonic Laminar Flow Control
  • Deputy director of aerospace projects
  • Director of safety and mission assurance
  • Director of Flight Operations

Bohn-Meyer became the first female crew member of the triple-sonic SR-71 Blackbird in 1991. She had worked for NASA for twelve years before she was appointed as a flight engineer. Her job was to assist NASA in gathering data at high altitudes and speeds to enhance the design of future aircraft. Congresswoman Beverly Byron was the only other woman to have flown in the renownedly fast aircraft; she did so as a VIP guest in 1985.

Bohn-Meyer, who was married to NASA test pilot Bob Mayer, served as a stick pilot for the renowned HABU while flying the SR-71B, in addition to being a Reconnaissance Systems Officer (RSO) on the Blackbird.

Marta Bohn-Meyer, Dryden’s chief engineer at the time of her recent death, celebrates her successful 1991 first flight at triple supersonic speeds in the SR-71 Blackbird. Bohn-Meyer was one of two women ever to fly in the storied aircraft and the only one to do so as a crew member; Congresswoman Beverly Byron took a guest VIP ride in 1985. 

Known for her precision in aerobatics, Bohn-Meyer passed away on September 18, 2005, when the Giles G-300 she was piloting during an aerobatic routine crashed close to Oklahoma City. Former NASA deputy administrator Fred Gregory remembers being the first person to be assigned as a mentor to her when she first started as a student at Langley:

“She was smart, detail-oriented, opinionated, and professional well beyond her age.”

Kevin Petersen, director of the Dryden (now Armstrong) Flight Research Center at the time of her passing, remarked on Bohn-Meyer’s “strength and her commitment to all she pursued.”

“We committed lives to this person’s judgment every day; she was the last line of defense against complacency. And she never let me—or Dryden—down.”

Check out the Habubrats and Born into the Wilde Blue Yonder Facebook pages for further Blackbird photos and stories.

Photo by NASA

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