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Blackbird Memories

From a former pilot.

...the plane was dripping, much like the misshapen model had assembled in my youth. Fuel was seeping through the joints, raining down on the hangar floor. At Mach 3, the plane would expand several inches because of the severe temperature, which could heat the leading edge of the wing to 1,100 degrees. To prevent cracking, expansion joints had been built into the plane. Sealant resembling rubber glue covered the seams, but when the plane was subsonic, fuel would leak through the joints.

One of the sayings of the program was that if the plane wasn't dripping, don't bother to get in--someone forgot to fuel it.


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Dennis Ray Wingo wrote:


Mike Borgelt wrote:

Brian Schul wrote two books about flying the SR-71:
"Sled Driver" and "The Untouchables". The article is from the second book. I read both books a few years ago while stuck at a friend's place at the coast due to bad weather. Great reads!

Some guy wrote:

"The cooler outside temperatures have awakened the spirit born into her years ago, when men dedicated to excellence took the time and care to build her well".

Well, there's something you don't see every day.

Larry J wrote:

One of my coworkers was a Blackbird RSO for 5 years. He has a framed picture of a Blackbird in his office signed by Kelly Johnson and Ben Rich. If that picture ever turns up missing, I'll be the leading suspect (with good reason).

The Blackbird was an amazing engineering achievement. It was built, maintained, and flown by highly skilled individuals. I never got to see one fly but I've seen several A-12s and SR-71s in museums. Even sitting still, it looks like it's going fast.

Dick Eagleson wrote:

One of the more agreeable afternoons of my life was one I spent back in early 1980 watching an SR-71 do repeated bump-and-run landings and takeoffs on a strip south of a Northrup facility, itself just south of Air Force Plant 42 (F-117, B-2, Space Shuttle) and the then-Lockheed L-1011 assembly plant at Palmdale north of L.A. The pilot must have landed and taken off again a couple of dozen times over a period of roughly two hours. The bird couldn't have been over 500 yards from my vantage point at its closest point of passage on that runway. A glorious and graceful beast even flying at, for it, very low speed. Just glorious.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 9, 2008 8:05 AM.

Rewriting History was the previous entry in this blog.

A Pet Rock is the next entry in this blog.

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