Fifty years ago today, December 22, 1964

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by evangilder, Dec 22, 2014.

  1. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    It was 50 years ago today that Bob Gilliland took the very first SR-71 Blackbird on it's maiden flight from Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The aircraft reportedly reached Mach 3.4 on it's maiden flight. I remember seeing them over the skies of Europe many times in the mid 1980s while stationed at RAF Lakenheath, and photographed it many times on film (anyone remember film?).

    I met Bob in 2010 at Torrance airport and got a photo of him. I added a shot of the SR-71 I took in 1986 at Mildenhall to commemorate the event.
     

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  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    That machine is still amazing today. Thanks for posting Eric.
     
  3. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    I remember I made its scale model. Cockpit looked so small.
     
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  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Heck, fifty years !
    Seeing this, and the pics I posted recently of the RCAF Starfighters, again 50 years ago, seems like yesterday, to an extent. It's also proof that I'm getting old (ish!).
     
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  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    They don't make 'em like they used to.
     
  6. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    stolen alien technology at its best.... :)
     
  7. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Stolen is such a negative word. I prefer "liberated". ;)
     
  8. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    We didn't need proof!
     
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  9. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I knew someone would pick-up on that - but I thought the Swettish Muppet would have been first !
    At least I can say truthfully that I'm not 16 yet ....
     
  10. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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  11. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Heck, nowhere near ! Weight is 12 Stone 4 Pounds, but I've only had 15 and a half Birthdays so far ...............
     
  12. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    There should be a law against leap day babies like you!
     
  13. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for posting this Eric. I've been reading up on this bird and both books I have so far have a list of the pilots in them. Very cool bird.
    And Terry, rub in why don't you!:lol:
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    At the last two air shows I attended at Duxford, there has been a former SR-71 pilot, a USAF Colonel, presenting a talk, at various times during the day, in front of the museum's example, which is housed in the American Air Forces in Europe building on the airfield
    Unfortunately, I can't remember his name, and haven't yet had the opportunity to listen to his presentation. But I did see him once, the day after a show, giving someone a 'walk around' talk, so I need to ensure I 'collar' him during one of my next visits.
    Here's a pic of the Duxford bird, a bit tricky to capture with the back-light from the huge glass frontage, depending on the time of day.
    The huge engines, impressive in their own right, are displayed beneath the wing and fuselage.
     

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  15. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    They were impressive to see in their time. When I was at Lakenheath, they were based at Mildenhall. You could hear them spooling up for takeoff 3.5 miles away if it was quiet on base. Then you only had to look toward Mildenhall and see the familiar black shape pop up on the horizon, climbing out.

    It's funny, I saw them regularly, stood in a hangar with one talking to a crew chief who showed me the darn thing leaking like a sieve on the ground. Now, 25 years later, they aren't around flying anymore. I look back over the years and think of the amazing aircraft I saw fly and never really thought much about it. Talking to young aviation fans now and hearing them say "Man, you saw a blackbird fly? That must have been awesome!". Looking back, I guess it was, but in those days, it was a common occurrence, so I didn't really see the significance of it then.
     
  16. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I know what you mean Eric. It's a similar thing with the Vulcan, or the Lightning, in the UK. Back in the 1970's, and up to the very early 1980's, they were common, and we didn't really think much about them, even though a big hit at air shows. Now, the last remaining flying Vulcan is about to see its last year of displays, before being permanently grounded, and there are no Lightnings flying in the UK.
     
  17. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    To quote Joni Mitchell ... "you don't know what you got till it's gone"
     
  18. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    years ago the local EAA had a meeting where one of the SR71 pilots gave a presentation. my father attended and told me all the interesting facst the pilot discussed. like what you observed the guy said on the ground it leaked horribly and they had drip pans all over the hangar. the first thing they did when they took off was get to alt and refuel. some of the other things he said that i remember:

    the skin had gaps in it becasue friction from the air caused surface temp to rise so much the skin expanded and all the gaps closed ( and the leaks stopped ).
    navigation was done by trangulation of at least 3 stars.
    all the tools were titanium. if a steel tool scratched the skin that scratch would fracture in flight.
    if a rocket hit the tail of the plane when it was at top speed it would outrun the blast.
    it would beat a 30-06 bullet in a race...

    like i said this is what was told at that meeting ( there was a bunch more but its been 30 some years ago and told to me second hand )....i cant swear that some of this wasnt an embellishment.
     
  19. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I remember seeing the Vulcan and the Lightnings as well. The first time I saw the Lightning on the ground I was unimpressed. Then it took off and flew the display and I was floored.

    Some of those facts I know for sure are correct on the SR, having seen it firsts hand and because one of my father-in-laws hiking buddies was a flight test engineer on the SR-71 program. He would say the top speed was "faster than a speeding bullet". The gaps in the skin was because there weren't any sealants that could withstand the temperature swings the metal would go through during the flight, not to mention how much it expanded and contracted because of that. By 20,000 feet, half of the fuel would be gone from leaking, burn.

    It was an amazing aircraft when it was first introduced and is still amazing now.
     
  20. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    I met the high time SR-71 pilot (he commissioned a friend of mine) and he said it was a very good flying airplane. Also mentioned that a 1 degree pitch change at Mach 1 resulted in 1000 fpm climb/decent. At Mach 2 it was twice that, and so on for Mach 3.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
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