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Fastest Jet Ever: The SR-71 Blackbird

Posted by Cirrus Aviation on Sep 1, 2015 3:23:00 PM

BlackbirdPhoto: Stuart Seeger

Cirrus Aviation’s jet fleet gets clients where they want to go – fast - but nothing compares to the speed of the SR-71 Blackbird.

The spy plane, built by Lockheed in the 1960s, has become legendary among aviation buffs because of its astonishing speed. Airmen Al Joersz and George Morgan broke the world speed record for jet-powered aircraft aboard an SR-71 Blackbird, reaching Mach 3.3 (2,193 miles-per-hour) in 1976.

That’s literally faster than a speeding bullet.

As a reconnaissance plane for the U.S. Air Force, the Blackbird was so fast that it was impossible to shoot down. When fired upon, the jet, which wasn’t the most maneuverable plane in the sky, simply accelerated and outran the missile.

The plane typically performed its missions at high altitudes. On its record-setting flight, the Blackbird flew at more than 80,000 feet.

Traveling at an altitude of about 15 miles, pilots who flew the plane had to wear helmets and pressurized flight suits like those of astronauts.

Charcoal-colored with delta-shaped wings, the Blackbird had its share of quirks. Pilots recount stories of being able to cook a meal by holding the food up to the cockpit windows. The glass would become hot from the friction generated by flying at high speeds.

One unnerving idiosyncrasy: Flying at supersonic speeds created shockwaves that frequently killed one of the plane’s two engines. Pilots developed procedures to maintain control of the jet when this happened, but the resulting bumpy ride made turbulence encountered by passengers of a conventional jet seem like a ride at Disneyland.

After a distinguished 25-year career, the SR-71 was grounded in 1989. Not one of the 32 Blackbirds built was ever taken down by the enemy.

Most of the remaining planes are on display at air force bases or in aviation museums around the country, testaments to the ability of Lockheed and the U.S. military to build a supersonic, high-performance jet so advanced it has owned the title of “fastest ever” for nearly 40 years. Call (702)-472-9714 to book your private jet charter.

Topics: Jet Charter Educational