The sign accompanying the A-12. It reads
This one-manned early version of the famed SR-71 Blackbird was used by the
C.I.A. for intelligence gathering missions. The A-12 is capable of speeds in
excess of Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound). In the early 1990s, three
SR-71 Blackbirds similar to this
were transferred to NASA for upper atmospheric aerodynamic research. This
A-12-930 was the seventh vehicle of its type built by Lockheed Aircraft
Corporation. The black finish on the titanium skin helped dissipate frictional
heat caused by high speeds and contains tiny iron balls that made radar
detection difficult. The top speed achieved was in excess of 3,528 kilometers
per hour (2,193 miles per hour) at an altitude of over 25,900 meters (85,000
feet). This aircraft was retired by the U.S. Air Force after 25 years of
The A-12/SR-71 Blackbird has set numerous speed and altitude records
including the following:
|New York to London
||1 hr., 54 min., 56.4 sec.
|London to Los Angeles
||3 hr., 47 min., 35.8 sec.
|Los Angeles to Washington D.C.
||1 hr., 4 min., 20 sec.
Historically, the USSRC has seemed to like calling its aircraft an "A-12
Blackbird," even though the name "Blackbird" is more generally associated with
the SR-71. Although
the entire family of related aircraft (A-12, YF-12, and SR-71) is sometimes
collectively referred to as "Blackbird," the CIA program under which the A-12
was developed was called
"Oxcart" (or in all caps, "OXCART"), and the A-12 itself seems to
generally be called the "A-12 Oxcart." In fact, the CIA would have you call
the entire series of aircraft "the
I mentioned this to the current museum curator, who agreed with my frustration
regarding the plane's inaccurate signage. He further assured me that, once
it's in its new home, there will be "correct designation and call sign for the
aircraft in its interpretive signage."