Here are 25 Kickass and Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird.

1-5 Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird

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1. The SR-71 Blackbird outran nearly 4000 missiles fired at it during its service life. – Source

2. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action for an SR-71 Blackbird was simply to accelerate and outrun the missile. – Source

3. A decade before the SR-71 first flew, the Military had a Mach 4.3 capable Ramjet created to test its own air defenses. It was so effective, it was cancelled to avoid embarrassing the military’s own air defenses any further. The man who designed it went on to create the SR-71. – Source

4. The SR-71 did more than just take pictures. It could aim its radar 45 degrees to the side, map the terrain like side scan sonar, intercept enemy comms and radar signals, record its entire flight path with infrared cameras to prove to countries that it didn’t violate their airspace. – Source

5. In order to obtain the vast amounts of titanium needed for the construction of the SR-71, the CIA created fake companies throughout the world to purchase the metal from the biggest supplier, the USSR. The SR-71 was used to spy on the Soviet Union for the rest of the cold war. – Source

6-10 Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird

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6. The windshield of the SR-71 Blackbird could reach a temperature of over 600°F during flights at mach 3. It had to be made of quartz and was ultrasonically fused to the titanium hull in order to handle the stress. – Source

7. The Blackbird’s tires, manufactured by B.F. Goodrich, contained aluminum and were filled with nitrogen. They cost $2,300 and did not last 20 missions. The Blackbird landed at over 170 knots and deployed a drag parachute to stop; the chute also acted to reduce stress on the tires. – Source

8. SR-71 Blackbird pilots were sometimes tasked to fly over foreign ceremonies to lay down a sonic boom when heads of state were greeting each other, just to remind them that what they were doing was against U.S. Policy. – Source

9. Out of the 12 blackbirds that were lost, none of them were from enemy fire, but from accidents. – Source

10. In 1969, a $34 million SR-71 Blackbird fell apart in mid-air due to a 2 inch piece of duct tape. – Source

11-15 Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird

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11. The SR-71 was able to maintain its heading within 1,000 feet at Mach 3 by using a navigation system that tracked a series of 61 stars using a sensor capable of detecting them in broad daylight. – Source

12. The chief engineer of the SR-71 stated that titanium was so difficult to work with, they made over 6000 parts for it, and less than 10% were any good. They ended up having to use argon gas to keep out oxygen while welding. “If you dropped a piece on the floor, it would shatter.” – Source

13. In 1991, The SR-71 BlackBird flew from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes and 20 seconds, holding an average speed of 2,144.8 miles per hour (3,451.7 km/h). – Source

14. Blackbird’s J58 jet engines were started with the assistance of two Buick Wildcat V8 internal combustion engines, externally mounted on a vehicle referred to as a “start cart”. The start cart was positioned underneath the J58 and the two Buick engines powered a single, vertical drive shaft connecting to the J58 engine and spinning it to above 3,200 revolutions per minute at which point the turbojet could self-sustain. Once the first J58 engine was started, the cart was repositioned to the other side of the aircraft to start the other J58 engine. – Source

15. SR-71 Blackbird pilot, Bill Weaver, survived the aircraft disintegrating around him at Mach 3.18 (2,420 mph) at an altitude of 78,800 feet (about 15 miles). – Source

16-20 Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird

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16. SR71 pilots were called sled drivers. – Source

17. The specialized, fully pressurized flight suits designed for SR-71 pilots were the precursors of the modern space suit. – Source

18. The SR-71 was only limited to Mach 3 because of the limits of its own fuel tank sealant. It could also take a picture up to 20 mile wide, and from up to 80 miles away depending on the model of camera the aircraft was given. – Source

19. Engineers that worked on the Blackbird couldn’t come up with a proper fuel sealing system that could handle the thermal expansion of the airframe at extreme temperatures, so the aircraft leaked jet fuel on the runway. – Source

20. Due to the above reason, the SR-71 only had enough fuel to take off and then got filled up in the air by an air tanker. – Source

21-25 Interesting Facts About SR-71 Blackbird

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21. The SR-71 Blackbird used a special fuel with such a high flash point that it extinguished matches and cigarettes. – Source

22. Flying at 80,000 ft (24,000 m) meant that crews could not use standard masks, which could not provide enough oxygen above 43,000 ft (13,000 m). Specialized protective pressurized suits were produced. Furthermore, an emergency ejection at Mach 3.2 would subject crews to temperatures of about 450 °F (230 °C); thus, during a high altitude ejection scenario, an onboard oxygen supply would keep the suit pressurized during the descent. – Source

23. The Air Force could fly each SR-71, on average, once per week, because of the extended turnaround required after mission recovery. Very often an aircraft would return with rivets missing, delaminated panels or other broken parts such as inlets requiring repair or replacement. There were cases of the aircraft’s not being ready to fly again for a month due to the repairs needed. – Source

24. The SR-71 program was terminated due to Pentagon politics, and not because the aircraft had become obsolete or irrelevant, or suffered maintenance problems, or had unsustainable program costs, although these reasons are frequently cited as justifications for its downfall. – Source

25. The SR-71 also holds the “Speed Over a Recognized Course” record for flying from New York to London, a distance of 3,461.53 miles (5,570.79 km) at 1,806.964 miles per hour (2,908.027 km/h), and an elapsed time of 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, set on 1 September 1974. – Source

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Last Update: May 5, 2020

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