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SR-71 Components Gallery


The sign accompanying the SR-71 tire. It reads

SR-71 Aircraft Tires

Why are SR-71 tires silver? SR-71 tires, like the one displayed here, were infused with powered aluminum. The addition of aluminum to the rubber gave a much higher flash point to the tire, helping it withstand the high heat caused by friction with the ground upon landing at extreme speeds. The tires were also filled with nitrogen. By inflating the tires with nitrogen, instead of air, a fire would be less likely to start due to the absence of oxygen. Each tire cost $2,300 and would last for approximately 15 full-stop landings.

Heat was not just a problem on the ground. The SR-71 needed to deflect a large amount of heat as it flew at an average speed of Mach 3, or roughly 2000 mph! At this extreme speed, the metal skin of the SR-71 would heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Over 90 percent of the aircraft's frame was made of titanium to withstand the intense heat. In addition, the SR-71 was painted with a highly sophisticated and specially formulated black paint to radiate excess heat. The special paint also provided protection against detection by disturbing incoming radar energy, rendering the aircraft less detectable by enemy forces. An interesting side effect was the resulting changing of the speeding aircraft to a lovely blue.

Sign by SR-71 tire at Kansas Cosmosphere
Time picture taken Sat Apr 16 18:16:16 2016
Location picture taken Lobby
Kansas Cosmosphere
Hutchinson, KS
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