The sign accompanying the plane. It reads
The SR-71, unofficially
known as the "Blackbird," is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance
aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of the
SR-71 took place on December
22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was
delivered to the 4200th
(later, 9th) Stategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California, in January 1966.
The U.S. Air Force retired its fleet of SR-71s on January 26, 1990, because of
a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operation.
Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world's
fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. From 80,000 feet it could
survey 100,000 square miles of Earth's surface per hour. On July 28, 1976, an
SR-71 set two world records for
its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.167 miles per hour and an
absolute altitude record of 85,068.997 feet.
On March 21, 1968, in the aircraft on display, Maj. (later General) Jerome
F. O'Malley and Maj. Edward
D. Payne made the first operational SR-71 sortie. During
its career, this aircraft accumulated 2,981 flying hours and flew 942 total
sorties (more than any other SR-71), including 257 operational missions, from
Beale AFB, California; Palmdale, California; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; and RAF (Base) Mildenhall, England.
Details of the operational missions remain classified. The aircraft was flown
to the Museum in March 1990.
||55 ft. 7 in.
||107 ft., 5 in.
||18 ft. 6 in.
||170,000 lbs. loaded
||Two Pratt &
Whitney J58s of 32,500 lbs. thrust each, with afterburners
||Mach 3+ (three times the speed of sound) or over 2,000 mph/1,738
||Above 85,000 ft
||More than 2,900 statute miles/2,520 nautical miles