A sky for the Blackbird, the fastest manned airplane

June 21, 2020
It was also called "Blackbird", and once upon a time, it ruled the skies, before finally retiring. Lockheed SR-71 " Blackbird" was designed by the feisty Clarence Kelly Johnson, and this "long range, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft" can actually outfly a missile! No wonder, the US Air Force ran the whole project, when defense contractor, Lockheed was given the responsibility by the CIA. It was called "Project Archangel".

The "Blackbird" isn't called the fastest manned airplane for nothing. It was on 28th July, 1976, when one SR-71 with the serial number 61-7962, reached really great heights, literally, when the world record of 85,069 was broken! This absolute altitude record was special in the sense that it was broken in a sustained flight. The pilot who took on altitude was Captain Robert Helt. Ever heard of a record-breaking monster? Well, you are about too, because that very day, another SR-71, with serial number 61-7958 also smashed all speed records to set up an absolute speed record, which was 1905.81 knots. In ordinary human language, it's 3,529.6 km/h! Impressed?
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The design of the Blackbird played a great role in its great exploits. Apart from its speed, it was also notorious for avoiding interception, which was an important radar countermeasure. The records which were being broken, be it in speed, or altitude, made it basically invincible, because by the time the enemy tracked the Blackbird, and tailed it with a SAM (surface-to-air-missile), it would simply go faster to avoid it! Well, if running from problems were celebrated, we would probably be the human versions of the SR-71, don't you agree? Besides this, unlike most aircrafts, titanium was used for 85% of the structure of SR-71. Also, the chines which formed a part of the design of SR-71 created "additional lift", with its performance improving manifold. Its two Pratt and Whitney J58 axial-flow turbojet engines (Whew! That was a long one!) also had a significant part to play in its whole mechanism.
The Lockheed SR-71's first flight was on 22 December, 1964. When it took its Final Savior Crown flight on 6 March, 1990, it set four new speed records! As to why it was called "Blackbird", it was the dark blue hue which coated this amazing airplane, almost to the point that it appeared black. This was done so that it would appear one with a black sky ('cause that's how you fool the enemy, and also because it was designed for strategic reconnaissance, remember?); the internal heat and its emission was also increased because of this. The Blackbird had to be retired for several reasons, with politics being the foremost. While that is a story for another day, remember that the Lockheed SR-71 " Blackbird" did not go gentle into the good night!

Post Written by - Lopamudra

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