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Flew out to Seattle last year to the Blackbird Forum held at the Museum Of Flight. They have the ONLY existing SR-71 Blackbird with the M-21 Drone configuration in existance. They just finished restoration and unveiled it for public display. This was the only time the cockpit would be open to the public. I was there.
Sadly, the Blackbirds are no longer flying (thanks to Bill Clintons line item veto), but they still hold world records, including the coast-to-coast speed record (San Francisco to NY) of 64 minutes. That's an AVERAGE speed of 2,194 MPH.
Got to meet & shake hands with several 'Sled Drivers' and their SRO's. One of the highlights was talking to Leland Haynes, SR-71 Crew Chief of one of the world record speed holders.
My avitar shows the SR-71A in full afterburner.
 

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The SR-71 is undoubtedly one of the most if not the most impressive aircraft ever built. Remember this craft was rolled out in 1964(?). Back then they didn't have supercomputers to design their aircraft. It was probably designed mostly by dedicated engineers with slide rulers!
 

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Originally posted by MowHoward2210
The SR-71 is undoubtedly one of the most if not the most impressive aircraft ever built. Remember this craft was rolled out in 1964(?). Back then they didn't have supercomputers to design their aircraft. It was probably designed mostly by dedicated engineers with slide rulers!

Ya Kinda like doing 600mph in a 64 Chevy. Thinks bout it for a min. Unbelivable.

You know what the bad part is? Seeing that plane just SIT there. It was ment to fly, not sit in some storeroom somewere. Real sad. The true beuty of this type of michane dose not come from just it's mean looks, or it's past records, but in flight!!!
 

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Steve
Why were they grounded? Were they getting too old or developing stress cracks? Was there something that replaced them?
 

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Originally posted by sixchows
Steve
Why were they grounded? Were they getting too old or developing stress cracks? Was there something that replaced them?
It was a simple matter of cost! Sad but true it was grounded, due to the high cost the taxpayers had to pay for each and every flight. A true wonder that it lasted as long in flying condition but the cost to keep it flying was amazing. When I was in the Air Force overseas Philippines in the mid to late 1970's I did get to opportunity to only see one in operational status ONE time on the ground and then saw it on a take off roll and gone in a matter of a few minutes. We all got the time to stand on the flight line and watch it take off. It was awesome in the matter it took off.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
SR-71 Grounded

The SR-71 is a relatively high maintenance aircraft. They didn't have structural problems or things like that. The Air Force said they wanted a new plane to replace it but they never did.
They were grounded because the Air Force said it cost too much to keep the program flying. The Air Force wanted to use that money for other projects.
They can never be made again because then Deputy Defense Seretary Robert McNamara ordered all the tooling destroyed (I think this happened in 1967).

The blackbirds were actually grounded three times.
The first time was 22-Nov-1989 (thanks to Larry Welch).

On 28-Sept-1994, Congress allocated $100 million for re-activation of three SR-71s. They were re-activated 30-Jun-1995.

On 15-Apr-1996, Defense Secretary John White grounded them again due to budget intrepretations.

On 21-Sept-1996 the House & Senate Appr Comm agreed to fund them thru fiscal 1997.

On 15-Oct-1997, President Clinton killed the SR-71 with a line-item veto. The program was officially terminated then.

On 13-Sept-2001, two days after the terrorist attacks in New York City, the Pentagon asked if it was possible to bring them back. Kinda ironic, huh?

The only ones that are capable of being brought back into service are the ones that were flown into the museums.

There's several good books. here's two I highly recommend.
The SR-71 Revealed
SR-71 Blackbird Stories, Tales & Legends (these two were written by Rich Graham, Col. USAF (Ret)
Rich sends the proceeds from his books to the J.T. Vida memorial foundation to restore the SR-71A that's at the Udvar-Hazy museum.
 

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Thanks for taking the time to post all the photos Toolman. :thumbsup:

I'm sure you know about it but for others that may be interested, they have one on display without the Drone at the United States Airforce Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The museum is one of my favorite places to visit for a one day trip.

United States Airforce Museum

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Mark,
The one at Wright-Pat (Dayton) is tail #976, it was flown in to the museum & it's the only one that has the Cheetah head tail art on the rudders. If you haven't visited the museum in a while, they've moved it into the new hall. If you take the bus to visit the R & D hanger at Wright-Pat you can see their A-12, it's the predecessor to the SR-71.
 

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Thanks for the info.
I've yet to see those other hangers since they opened. I ran out of time on my last visit. I plan to see them first the next time.

Mark
 

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I was with the Army, working out of Okinawa into other areas 1970-1973. There were 2 71s at Kadena, believe they were then called Habus (an oriental snake). When they rolled out of their classified side of the base even the local highway across the end of the runway was closed off. We could alsways tell their schedule since the KC-135 tankers left about an hour before them. The the 71s went out, fast roll and quick rotation/liftoff into a steep climb headin west towards China and North Vietnam, etc. When they returned, many times in less than 2 hours, the road was again closed, hanger doors open, and in the went.....The crew wore silver space suits.

I was in Cambodia 1974 and frequently saw intel images taken by the SR-71s....very impressive resolution. The photos were flown into us at the Phnom Penh US Embassy from Thailand.

There was also a lower/slower RB-57D there....quite an antique compared to the SR-71!

Dave Norris
 

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If I remember correctly, wasn't there less than 30 of these ever built? And I seem to also remember that NASA got 2 or 3 for research purposes in the late 1990's ?
 

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Hi Joe,
I think there were about 38 built if you count the A-12's, both SR-71B's and the SR-71A's.
I've got the list on all of them & I'll post it for you. The list will include which ones were lost & where the rest of them currently are located.
You are correct. NASA had two of them on loan from USAF. The ones loaned to NASA had the tail numbers changed to an 800 series number. Marta Bohn (female) has a lot of hours flying in the Blackbird for NASA. NASA turned gave them back due to budget cuts.
 

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Scout,
A guy I work with was in the Marines & stationed in Okanowa. He says the same thing as you. He says they used to shut the base down when the 71's took off & landed. He didn't get to see them up close because of the security. The 71's area was behind fences. He said you could tell them by their sound too.
 
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