The SR-71 Broke Several Records During Its Retirement Flight

Samuel Reason | July 9th, 2018

The famous blackbird renaissance plane looks like something you would find in X-Men or a Marvel superhero movie and not real military equipment. But the blackbird SR-71 is very real and flew many missions for the American Air Force during its deployment in active duty.

It was developed in a top secret project run by Lockheed, largely based off the Lockheed A-12 aircraft in the 1960s. The head designer Clarence Johnson is mostly named as being responsible for most of its innovative design concepts. The plane could fly at such high speeds it could just run away from any threats while performing renaissance missions. Even if an enemy fired a missile, the blackbird would simply accelerate. A total of 32 blackbird aircraft were built, they are now for the most part in museums. 12 were destroyed by accidents, but never was an SR-71 lost to an enemy.

Even greater is its ability to fly at high speeds. In fact, it still holds the world record for being the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft. And it has held this record since 1976. But it actually holds more world records. In fact, on its last official flight, it broke four.

In 1990, the SR-71 number 972 took its last flight, the retirement flight from Los Angeles to Washington. The voyage was taking it to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. And keeping up with its heritage and amazing history on this flight alone it broke four-speed records.

Pilot Lieutenant Yielding and co-pilot Lieutenant Vida started their flight from Palmdale, California and landed in Washington-Dulles in just one hour, four minutes and 20 seconds. The speed they traveled at was high enough for them to set four records: the fastest flight from West Coast to East Coast, from Los Angeles to Washington, from Kansas City to Washington and even from St. Louis to Cincinnati.

When you think the average speed the plane was traveling at was 2,145 mph, that’s when you understand the real incredible engineering that went behind the construction of this plane.

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