A reader sends in the link to a great SR-71 story.
There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact.
What makes this even more interesting to Murdoc is that this very story was related to him by a former Blackbird pilot this past summer. I think he told me that he had been told by one of the men involved, but I can’t remember for sure.
Incidentally, the pilot I was lucky enough to be able to spend time chatting with spent a great deal of his career training other Blackbird pilots, and he spent a lot of hours in aircraft #61-7956, one of two SR-71B two-seat trainers. The other ‘B’ aircraft was lost in 1968, so virtually all SR-71 training after that time occurred in this plane.
(I asked what would have happened had the second ‘B’ model encountered disaster, and he told me that they had cobbled together what they called an SR-71C from leftover parts and pieces. It was built from the aft fuselage of a wrecked YF-12A and a functional engineering mock-up of an SR-71A forward fuselage originally built for static testing. This Frankenstein’s Monster flew so very nicely and was so easy to maintain that they called it “The Bastard” and it wasn’t used a whole lot.)
Aircraft #61-7956 (also known as NASA #831 from its time at Dryden Flight Research Center) is now on display at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo museum in Michigan. I’ve visited since it arrived in 2003, but unfortunately the terrible lighting conditions in the new section of the Air Zoo (apparently to make things more “dramatic” or something but actually very annoying) prevented me from getting a picture of the Blackbird that turned out.
But, seeing as MO readers seem to have this thing for pictures, here’s a shot of a bunch of Dryden aircraft from 1997 that includes Blackbird #61-7956:
A collection of NASA’s research aircraft on the ramp at the Dryden Flight Research Center in July 1997: X-31, F-15 ACTIVE, SR-71, F-106, F-16XL Ship #2, X-38, Radio Controlled Mothership and X-36.
You can clearly see the second cockpit of the ‘B’-model SR-71. (Pic from the Dryden collection.)