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-   -   SR-71, The Blackbird (https://www.pprune.org/military-aviation/616733-sr-71-blackbird.html)

gareth herts 13th Dec 2007 12:05

Great book Max. He is a photo nut and has some wonderful snaps. You're not getting mine tho.
Nor mine - undoubtedly one the best books about flying I've ever read.

ABX 14th Dec 2007 00:00

Hi bigbluecar,

You're right, that site is very good, I spent about an hour on this morning and I'll spend some more time on it as soon as I can.

Thanks for the link.:ok:

TEEEJ 14th Dec 2007 00:46

Mach 3.2 with the gear down in a Blackbird. General Sullivan recounts the flight of one A-12 Blackbird.


muppetofthenorth 14th Dec 2007 00:57

Is this story just folklore, or did it actually happen?

BeechNut 14th Dec 2007 01:26

Sexual Chocolate, that is a great story, Bill was incredibly lucky to have survived.
There's another thread somewhere about the AF crash of an A340 at YYZ in 2005, where everyone walked away. Yet some are suing for $1.4 million a piece, no doubt "traumatized" by their accident, and "suffering" from post-traumatic stress disorder from having their Louis Vuitton luggage barbecued.

Yet this guy hurtles down from 78,000 ft from an experimental airplane that disintegrated at M3, with his dead crewman hurtling down next to him. And what does he do two weeks later?

He gets right back into another one and flies it. You'd think he just had a minor fender bender in the supermarket parking lot...

Balls of steel!

Max Shutterspeed 14th Dec 2007 08:49

Great book Max. He is a photo nut and has some wonderful snaps. You're not getting mine tho.
Nor mine - undoubtedly one the best books about flying I've ever read.
Rotten lot...

Looks like I'll have to drop hints with Mrs Shutterspeed....

TEEEJ 14th Dec 2007 15:17

Nice find, Focks 2. Thanks for posting. I've heard the story before, but this is first official confirmation that I've seen of the retrieval of a piece of SAM debris from that particular A-12 Blackbird.

Flying Serpent 14th Dec 2007 18:07

Thanks for the link. That one'll keep me smiling for days.



Vatican69 14th Dec 2007 19:48

Sled Driver is going for about £150 - £200 on the net...I may have to treat my self after krimbo

wileydog3 14th Dec 2007 21:13

I spent a little over 4yrs as a 'tanker toad' and I never dragged anyone into or near a thunderstorm. I did meet some guys in some nasty wx in Thailand, in and around the Laotian and Cambodian boarders and in one case deep into northern Laos where we were on a SAR mission to refuel some F-4s covering a downed F-4. We had to drive around a lot of bumpers and no, we didn't do a standard pattern but all 4 F-4s got a full bag of gas before we had to leave and head back to U-Tapao.

During my time in tankers, we plugged -105s, -106s, B-52s, RC/EC-135 and were tagged by F-100s, RB-66s when we were draggin' the basket but again, it did no one any good driving into cells.

But yes, some did so focused on doing what they thought was the assigned task and screwed things up.. but it didn't happen often.

Paracab 14th Dec 2007 22:51

Balls of steel indeed Mr BeechNut, but to compare the test pilot of a machine that is fairly extreme at the best of times with a bunch of SLF who paid to arrive somewhere with non-barbecued luggage but didn't is not really a fair comparison.

Not taking anything away from the TP at all.

Brian Abraham 15th Dec 2007 04:15

I imagine that a loaded tanker would normally stay well clear of storms, brewing or not
I think the clue may be the pilots “very low on fuel” and “with less than 15 minutes of fuel remaining we hooked up” comments. Not something the tanker crew would have done lightly.

“A special bond developed between our tanker and SR-71 crews that didn’t exist throughout the Air Force. They took considerable pride in their work because of the exclusive SR-71 refuelling. They knew, and so did we, that the SR-71 mission success was directly related to our ability to get refuelled in the air. They were always somewhere in the murk and dark of night with a load of fuel waiting for us. It was a comforting feeling to have tanker crews, who you knew well, doing your refuelings.

It was important for the tankers to be in the air refuelling track 30 minutes before prior to the SR-71’s arrival to check on weather conditions. The SR had no weather radar and crews relied heavily on the tanker’s weather recommendations. Frequently, the tankers had to move the ARCP because of bad weather, necessitating a different arrival route from the SR-71.

Complicating any tanker rendezvous was the decel of the 71 was a manoeuvre which left little room for error. Pilots didn’t have the latitude to change throttle settings at random or add and subtract drag devices to modify their rate of descent. Once the throttles were brought out of AB at 78,000 feet (200 miles to run), the bottom out point was basically set. The engines and inlets had to be managed in a precise configuration to preclude unstarts, compressor stalling and flameouts (a few crews got to log glider time). Once 1.3 Mach (25 miles to run) had been reached throttles could then be used to adjust the descent profile.” Richard Graham, Pilot SR-71

“……..charging off the runway in this jet was always exciting. I’d usually scare myself once in every five takeoffs. Well, maybe twice in five….” Anon Sled Pilot

Brian Shul “Sled Driver” – The cockpit was my office. It was a place where I experienced many emotions and learned many lessons. It was a place of work, but also a keeper of dreams. It was a place of deadly serious encounters, yet there I discovered much about life. I learned about joy and sorrow, pride and humility, and fear, and overcoming fear. I saw much from that office that most people would never see. At times it terrified me, yet I would always feel at home there. It was my place, at that time in space, and the jet was mine for those moments. Though it was a place where I could quickly die, the cockpit was a place where I truly lived.

All aviators, if not having experienced the full gamut of that quote themselves, will I think understand where Brian comes from.

Gainesy 15th Dec 2007 15:17

Muppet, I believe it's true.:)
There is also the one along the lines of an SR-71 asking "For Flight Level 58" and a rather smug ATCer answering, "Its your's if you can get it" to which the 71 replied "Roger, descending through 65".

Don't know if that one is true though.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! 15th Dec 2007 15:24

Must be true because I had a car like that. It was a VW Passat that burned oil at a slow rate. I never had to check though because on the way home, there was a cloverleaf and if I took it at about 40 mph, when the oil was low, the pick up would cavitate and the oil warning light would illuminate.

I also used to happily drive that car into thunderstorms.

Paracab 15th Dec 2007 16:45

In his book "Sled Driver", SR-71/Blackbird pilot Brian Shul writes: I'll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt (my back-seater) and I were screaming across Southern California 13 miles high. We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles airspace.
Though they didn't really control us, they did monitor our movement across their scope. I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its ground speed. "90 knots" Center replied. Moments later a Twin Beech inquired the same. "120 knots," Center answered.
We weren't the only ones proud of our ground speed that day...almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Uh, Center, Dusty 52 requests ground speed readout."
There was a slight pause then the response, "525 knots on the ground, Dusty." Another silent pause. As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my back-seater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew for we were both thinking in unison.
"Center, Aspen 20, you got a ground speed readout for us?" There was a longer than normal pause... "Aspen, I show 1,742 knots." No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.


West Coast 15th Dec 2007 20:15

Makes for a nice story, but I think a little license was taken by the author about that one.

Brian Abraham 15th Dec 2007 22:59

Mach 3.2 with the gear down in a Blackbird
Record has to be the X-15. On one flight the nose gear extended at 4.2M, and on another, one main gear leg (skid) extended at 4.3M. Landings accomplished OK.

Thud_and_Blunder 16th Dec 2007 11:04

Excellent thread. I've enjoyed all the references; thanks to the contributors. One thing I appreciate - not only were these operators technically proficient, but some were also capable of describing what they did in a remarkably articulate fashion. Amazing to read what was going on while I was still a schoolboy. :ok:

ABX 18th Dec 2007 02:54

Great videos here, I particularly enjoyed number 2 - Take off, touch & go, landing.

dagenham 18th Dec 2007 17:54

In the late 80s I was working not a million miles away from the DET in a secret suffolk airbase, within a much more well known suffolk airbase and was talking to crew chief in the nearby local ( three horse shoes higham top pie and chips)

He was asking if I knew anywhere they could get 99.99% pure Nitrogen as the cockpit of the HABU was pressurised with the stuff. BOC could only supply 99.96 or sum such and I asked him why 0.001 was so important. He told me that it was because they flew so fast and the cockpits were getting so hot they had a few spontanous ingnitions. I asked him how fast they where flying as I heard Mach 3 and change, he replied Yeah that's how fast " they" ( other side ) had gone and each time they fly faster we just put the hammer down a little more and we have plenty left.... Ramjets doncha know, inlet generates 99% of the thrust and the more we open them, the faster we go.

On the fuel side he also told me you had to light the fuel with a blow torch, apparently one of the tanker guys tried to light a BBQ with it and it just put everything out, it has to be ingnited by paladium catalysts or some such in the J79.

Might just be bar talk...be interested to know if it wasn't

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