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SR-71, The Blackbird

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SR-71, The Blackbird

Old 1st Jan 2019, 02:30
  #21 (permalink)  
 
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international orange flight suits
Standard issue to all.



Re Jack Mecham, I think some reporter has got his wires crossed in perhaps misunderstanding what the man may have said.

http://www.rotorheadsrus.us/document...k%20Mariah.pdf

https://ccplohio.org/events/aviation...r-jack-mecham/
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 03:32
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post
I can remember seeing the Habu's strutting around the O'Club at Mildenhall in their international orange flight suits in the late 1970's.


Originally Posted by megan View Post
Standard issue to all.
Not in the U.S. Air Force or Navy in the late 1970's as I recall. And I think some SAC general finally took them away from the Beale crews in 1981 according to the account of Rich Graham on page 17 of his book cited earlier, SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story (1996).

Is that a USN solo picture with a T-28 in the 1960's? I think those suits were cotton, not Nomex and were phased out when the Vietnam War got going hot and heavy.

Originally Posted by megan View Post
Re Jack Mecham, I think some reporter has got his wires crossed in perhaps misunderstanding what the man may have said.


Actually, that 2003 article in the first link seems to be by the guy I spoke with at the X-plane hangar in 2006. The note about the author says he volunteers at the Air Force Museum.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 03:41
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Airbubba, photo 1967, suits were cotton, but went through a flame retardant process at certain intervals. I then went to the US Army in Vietnam where a two piece nomex (trousers & shirt) was the go.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 10:22
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Back in the day I bought a couple of Col. Rich Graham's books and found them fascinating. I ended up mailing him an SR-71 print which he graciously signed and returned.

Some time later, out of the blue, my wife answers a telephone call while I was out. "Some guy with an American accent called asking for you, something about a spy plane. It sounded like a prank call, so I put the phone down"

Now, as it happens I am hearing impaired (lip-reader) and would've been unable to take the call anyway, but I explained the significance of Col. Graham and had her call back immediately to apologise! The guy was such a good sport he offered to meet me for a pint and chat one day when he was next in England. Being a little younger, shyer and perhaps a little awe struck back then, I politely declined - something I've always regretted.

Col. Graham, if you read this and ever fancy that pint in a nice English country pub, I would be truly honoured, Sir!
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 14:14
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The Cotton Flight suits were standard issue in 1967 when I began Army Flight School....ours were the gray version, there Orange flight suits seen but were usually worn by the Flat Iron detachments (think Army style SAR/Medevac crews stationed at the large training bases flying CH-34's then later UH-1D's.

The Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard wore the Orange suits more often than did the Army.

In the latter part of 1968 and early 1969 we began to see the introduction of the Nomex Two Piece flight suit for Army Crews in Vietnam.

The Army has struggled over what style....two piece or one piece...drab or camouflage....as they struggle on most commonsense issues.

The non-aviation infantry Generals have a love-hate thing with Aviators.....just as they do with Spec Ops types who do not always dress as does the straight leg orthodox infantry.

I see as being a magnum case of Penis Envy....simple example is the entire Army wearing Black Berets....when the Black Beret was earned and worn by Rangrers.

When the Special Forces guys began to wear the Green Beret in the early 1960's.....it took President Kennedy to get involved to get the Army Dinosauers to wind their necks in.

So be it head gear, boots (remember the early paratrooper and their High Top Jump Boots), or flight suits.....the peevish always object to anything different than what they must wear in the US Army.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 18:42
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And on the subject of Jack Mecham, he seems to give talks about his past flying and is consistently billed as a former SR-71 pilot. It doesn't seem to be a journalistic misunderstanding. I wish I had listened more carefully when I was chatting with him but I was uneasy (but thrilled ) about being in the X-plane hangar without an escort and was afraid that maybe he was coming to boot me out. I think that I was allowed into the hangar by mistake when someone thought that I was a straggler from a veterans group who missed the bus back across the runway to the main Museum.

I'm still puzzled that Jack doesn't seem to show up on the published lists of Blackbird flyers years later.

WACO Adult Lecture Speaker Jack Mecham on February 15

January 30, 2012
WACO Adult Lecture Speaker – Vietnam Veteran Jack Mecham will share his experiences of CIA missions flown during the war

The WACO Air Museum will host guest speaker Jack Mecham on Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 p.m. He is a 20-year Air Force veteran who logged more than 12,100 flying hours on 20 different aircraft including the SR-71. During his tour of duty in Vietnam, he was solely responsible for planning and issuing frag orders for the missions flown by the 20th Helicopter Squadron. Additionally, he flew more than 100 combat missions, mostly in support of top secret CIA operations in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. Mr. Mecham will share his experiences, as well as, explain the origin of the “Black Mariah” helicopter that now resides in the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.




WACO Adult Lecture Speaker Jack Mecham on February 15 Newsome Team Realtors

From a post on the Thailand-Laos-Cambodia Brotherhood forum about the 2017 reunion:

Jack Mecham spoke in the morning about his experiences in Thailand and Laos flying the 'Black Mariah'. Jack has experience in every thing from Piper PA-18's to the SR-71, with some rotary wing thrown in.
2017 Reunion Report

From August 20, 2004 in the Dayton Daily News:

11:30 am Saturday; "Museum's Aerospace Adventure," designed for families with children featuring former SR-71 pilot and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient Jack Mecham discussing the SR-71 "Blackbird," 1:30 pm Saturday, Carney Auditorium, U.S. Air Force Museum, on Springfield Pike, one mile from the Harshman Road exit off Ohio 4.
https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/410764499/

Last edited by Airbubba; 1st Jan 2019 at 20:50.
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Old 1st Jan 2019, 21:16
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
"...first successful over-flight of the Soviet Union"....so easy to say....and the full significance of the statement is so elusive as was the aircraft itself.
Originally Posted by Saint Jack View Post
VIProds; Prior to reading the book I too thought that the SR-71 would almost have certainly flown over the USSR, Russia and China during its service (..."flew the fist successful overflight of the USSR from Mildenhall."). However the author, on Page 86, states quite categorically that "....One of the biggest myths surrounding the SR-71 reconnaissance program is that the plane has overflown the USSR and China. In truth, neither the A-12 nor the SR-71 has ever overflown the landmass of the USSR or China. after Gary Powers was shot down on 1st May 1960 over Russia, no US President would authorize direct overflights of the two superpowers...."


Colonel Walter Boyne writes about the early Soviet overflights in this 2001 Air Force Magazine article:

Truly vital intelligence concerning what was going on deep inside the territory of a potential adversary could be acquired only by overflying the Soviet Union and its allies. This was serious business, essentially an act of war, for during peacetime such an overflight violated Soviet national sovereignty.

Deja Vu All Over Again

The Soviet Union was especially sensitive to such overflights because it had experienced roughly similar operations just prior to Germany's invasion on June 22, 1941. Luftwaffe Col. Theo Rowehl's special reconnaissance unit had conducted almost 500 long-range overflights, pinpointing most of the major Soviet airfields. At that time, Stalin was trying desperately to avoid war with Hitler and so he failed to object or take action. Moscow would not make the same mistake again.

Such was the gravity of the Cold War overflights, however, that they could be authorized only by the President. At a recent Defense Intelligence Agency symposium on the early overflights, several speakers went to some lengths to establish the difference between a Presidentially authorized overflight and the more common PARPRO missions.

At this symposium, held at Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., each speaker emphasized that USAF Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, the commander in chief of Strategic Air Command, never, under any circumstances, ordered such a flight without Presidential authorization. They were adamant on this point because some journalists have portrayed LeMay as a stubborn warmonger out to start World War III on his own. According to those who were there, LeMay was dedicated to having SAC ready for war and was prepared to take the war into the heart of enemy territory, but he was first and foremost an airman who obeyed his Commander in Chief. He knew there was a line, and he never crossed it.

National Reconnaissance Office Historian Cargill Hall offered a definition of an "overflight" that fits the facts. He stated, "In using the term 'overflight,' I mean a flight by a government aircraft that, expressly on the direction of the head of state, traverses the territory of another state in peacetime without that other state's permission."

The distinction is important because it highlights just how critical and dangerous the highly classified overflight mission was. All of the flights were conducted in great secrecy, at a level of security which was maintained until very recently, when, at last, the missions and imagery were declassified and the men who flew the missions could finally talk about them. Curiously, this secrecy was enhanced indirectly by the Soviet Union. It never blew the whistle on the flights, for it refused to admit to its people and to the world that it could not prevent US aircraft from overflying its national territory.

The military overflights employed the unsophisticated reconnaissance aircraft then available for use. These ranged from piston-engine aircraft like the RB-50 to the early jets. The latter category included RF-80As, slowed by huge tip tanks necessary for range, an F-84, RF-86s, RF-100s, and RB-45s, RB-57s, and B- and RB-47s. All of these aircraft led the way to the later specialized U-2 and SR-71 aircraft and ultimately to satellites.
Air Force Magazine
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Old 2nd Jan 2019, 01:42
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Airbubba, I put the Jack Mecaham/SR-71 story in the same class as the myth that the guy who designed the P-51 also worked on the Bf-109 design. Some like to massage their history, not the P-51 designer in this case, that story was put about by others, the very fact that Merchams name does not appear on the list of crew members tells all. Had the chief pilot of another company come fly with ours for a period, first time I flew with him the conversation turned to our respective backgrounds, he said he was a ex Vietnam aviator, so asked what unit, where based? Couldn't remember says he. Pull the other one.
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Old 2nd Jan 2019, 04:25
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Airbubba, I put the Jack Mecaham/SR-71 story in the same class as the myth that the guy who designed the P-51 also worked on the Bf-109 design. Some like to massage their history, not the P-51 designer in this case, that story was put about by others, the very fact that Merchams name does not appear on the list of crew members tells all.
I'm not so sure. The area around the Air Force Museum is infested with military and ex-military pilots from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who would know what an SR-71 is. Could a 'poser' really give lectures about the plane over the years with a phony claim that he had flown it? I wouldn't have even remembered meeting this guy if he hadn't claimed to have flown the A-12, YF-12A and SR-71.

Like you, over the years I've encountered folks with stories that didn't quite check out. I flew commuter planes decades ago with a guy who claimed that he was a former Army Cobra pilot. As a Navy guy I was a gullible listener. I ran into a friend who flew helos in Vietnam (Dustoff medevac Huey's) on a layover and the three of us had a meal together. Afterward, my medevac friend said that my copilot was actually a gunner on the AH-1 from the answers he gave about his training and lack of a commission or warrant.

Of course, sometimes inaccurate stories about our background are started as rumor and we get tired of correcting them. When I was in Navy flight training there was an admiral with a name very similar to mine and word got out that I was 'junior'. No actual relationship of course, but on a mischievous whim I took one of those yellow phone message notes and stuck it to my mailbox behind the BOQ front desk. On it I scribbled 'To: ENS Airbubba From: ADM Airbubba Message: Call Dad.' I left the note up for a few days and spent the next few years making weak denials of my family status as a flag officer legacy.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 00:48
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He certainly didn't fly the YF-12A, have records of every flight those aircraft made and he doesn't get a mention, nor on the list of A-12 "÷xcart" crew. Going to take a hell of a lot to convince me.

Last edited by megan; 3rd Jan 2019 at 01:20.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 02:21
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Do the names on this list coincide with your list of Crew Members?


http://roadrunnersinternationale.com...t_bshield.html

http://www.sr71.us/pg006.htm


A bit about the USAF "Pony Express" Squadron and the "Black Mariah".

http://usafhpa.org/specialinterest/b...iah/mariah.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Pony_Express

The painting of the one aircraft in flat black paint was supposed to have been a trial to see if that would be of benefit for night covert operations....but night ops were cancelled due to the hazards such flight in those days presented (as reported by the first linked article).


One Man's opinion here....but the saying about the empty drum and level of noise springs to mind.

Last edited by SASless; 3rd Jan 2019 at 12:13.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 09:15
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
He certainly didn't fly the YF-12A, have records of every flight those aircraft made and he doesn't get a mention, nor on the list of A-12 "÷xcart" crew. Going to take a hell of a lot to convince me.
And he doesn't seem to appear anywhere on the comprehensive lists of Blackbird aircrewmen (and one woman) like the one in Appendix A of Col. Graham's The Complete Book of the SR-71 Blackbird: The Illustrated Profile of Every Aircraft, Crew, and Breakthrough of the World's Fastest Stealth Jet (2015).

Also, he gives a talk at a 2017 reunion for alumni of the secret war in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia?

Of course, even Frank Abagnale shows up at the Pan Am reunions:


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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 12:20
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I corrected the link I posted earlier that takes you to the "Road Runner" web site that has a wealth of information about the A-12/SR-71.

It shows a total of 487 people have flown in the aircraft.....not one of them is a name that could be the one under discussion.

If you go to the linked site and look over to the far right you will see that list of names....download it and review it for yourself.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 12:28
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Airbubba, your links provide irrefutable proof he's a Walt. Have sent an email to him via a source, be interesting to see if I get a reply, from him or the source.
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 12:36
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I just sent an email to the Director of the Museum and told him of the lack of any listing of the guy at any source I have found.

I noted it could be some sort of mistake that his name was not listed.....but Mecham should be quite happy and able to provide some proof of his being an SR-71 Pilot and ensuring the Road Runner site amended its records to accurately reflect his service with that group.

The fellow claims to be a recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross as well as being an SR pilot.

Again....no mention of him here either....although again....there might a valid reason for that.

https://valor.defense.gov/Portals/24...VietnamWar.pdf
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Old 3rd Jan 2019, 14:37
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Salute!

Awwww maaaan, you guys are bringing back some great memories. Besides personally knowing two bonafide SR-71 pilots ( Shul and Glasser, and prolly another or two I could look up), and flying with one in combat, the helo stories related to the fellow under scrutiny are personally important.

I flew helo escort and was top cover for infil/extraction in early 1968 from Pleiku. Most were covering SOG folks outta Kontum and they were using basic U.S. Army helos. UH-1 slicks and heavily armed ones. One callsign was Typhoon, and I am having trouble with the other one after 50 years. We were called Mustangs, but normal in-country and nights over the Trail was Dragon.

Every now and then we would CAP up at 20K to avoid noise and some mysterious helos would come into an area with zero fanfare. They would check in with us to ensure we were there to help, do their thing, then simply wish us well and depart the area. Very interesting, those days. And they were my favorite months flying in combat --- night interdiciton over the Trail and the Tet Offensive that February thru March.

I know several folks I flew with that embellish their combat record, but no outright lies or false stories. I wrote down two of my memorable missions in the early 90's before I got too old. My biggest regret over the years was not keeping a good diary/log book. So that's great advice for all the wannabes and newbies here that will have super careers and maybe a few adventures.

Gums sends...
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Old 5th Jan 2019, 01:50
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All A-12, YF-12 and SR-71 pilots and RSO's have a check ride number denoting when they were checked out on the aircraft. Numbers run from 1 to 466. Numbers 35 to 100 were not used as 000 to 100 were allocated to the CIA "Oxcart" program, some of which were not used prior to program termination. "Senior Crown" were allocated 101 onwards. All Jack has to do is tell us his check ride number, it must be >35 and <101, or >466.
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Old 5th Jan 2019, 03:03
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
He certainly didn't fly the YF-12A, have records of every flight those aircraft made and he doesn't get a mention, nor on the list of A-12 "÷xcart" crew. Going to take a hell of a lot to convince me.

I'm wondering, if the SR-71 (and variants) program was compartmentalized like today's UAV operations are, there was an entire second fleet (ops group?) operating that we'll NEVER find records about.
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Old 5th Jan 2019, 17:54
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Originally Posted by SASless View Post
The fellow claims to be a recipient of the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross as well as being an SR pilot.

Again....no mention of him here either....although again....there might a valid reason for that.

https://valor.defense.gov/Portals/24...VietnamWar.pdf
The list you linked is not for the Distinguished Flying Cross, it is for the Air Force Cross, a much less common award. There seem to be some unofficial DFC lists online, is there something more official in the .gov websites perhaps?
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Old 5th Jan 2019, 18:03
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My mistake....old eyes and a poor finger/brain interface tripped me up.....thinking I was looking at the DFC list.
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