David Whyte
Great article Loz, you're a bloody lucky bugger mate, you get to ride the best bikes and meet some of the best people! Good on ya!
CorvetteRacer
To the article author, yes, the SR-71 was a very unique and special aircraft, especially when you consider sustained flight. But have you forgotten about the X-15 (Mach 6.7 and 354,200 feet altitude), Apollo spacecraft, Space Shuttle, or even the F-35? Referring to it being the most extreme aircraft ever built is a bit over the top.
CzechsterMarek
What a great story and an exceptional person. Got to love it.
Michael Shewell
Fun article. I'll go back and read the "speed check" story now. I did pass one of these plane in the air once flying from Willow Run to LAX. The pilots (I was flying dead head in the cockpit of a DC-8) called the tower to confirm. It was indeed a Blackbird, flying at well over 1000 mph.
VirtualGathis
@CorvetteRacer: I think it is a matter of definition. The Blackbird was an aircraft. You got in it to pilot it, you flew it for many hours, you were in control. Most of the vehicles you cite are not really aircraft the way most people think. The X-15, Apollo, and Space Shuttle are all classed as rockets in the hearts of people because you aren't "flying" them, mostly they fly you, it is a quick burst and done. I'm not sure I'd vote it as "The most extreme flying machine ever" but I'd definitely vote it among the most iconic along with the B52 and A10. On the subject of the F35, it is one of those vehicles that had great expectations, but the implementation isn't there. Perhaps time will tell a different story, but as of right now it the F35 has yet to be proven, is subject to tremendous controversy because real world tests are causing it to fail many of its mile stones, much less its proclaimed capabilities. If it ever achieved the proclaimed objectives it would be an awesome fighter craft, but not really in the same league as the SR-71 was in being ahead of its time and providing unique capabilities. China and Russia both have fifth gen fighters that can equal or exceed it's capabilities moving to full production while we are still testing and failing the F35, so the F35 doesn't really bear mentioning as an extreme machine since it can barely pass a standard flight test without cracking the bulkheads. The F35's best use seems to be as an example of how not to run an engineering contract. If we are going to include vehicles that aren't really production flying in the list of competitors the Skylon would be in the same league and a competitor for most awesome aircraft ever built, if they ever bring it from drawing board to reality.
MLGLAW
Sirs, " ...none of the 32 built was ever shot down." (Paragraph 3 of article.) I wonder whether Gary Francis Powers would agree with this statement. MLGLAW
RonWalsh
While in the Marine Corps and stationed on Okinawa, I got to see the Habu take off and land almost every day, and on my second tour there I was stationed at Camp Courtney. This base had an excellent view of the SR-71 taking off with it's escorts and when she would come home hours later. I have had the pleasure of actually touching an SR-71 and having a close (not too close) view of this amazing aircraft. Finding a copy of Sled Driver is almost impossible these days, and I really hope that Major Shul will have the book reprinted. I was able to find a copy online, and it is an amazing read for anyone who is a fan of the worlds fastest aircraft. Semper Fidelis.
J4rH43d
@MLGLAW Gary Powers flew the U-2 Dragon Lady, not the SR-71 Blackbird. Both from Lockheed Skunkworks, both high-altitude, but a 2,000 mph difference in mission speed.
eMacPaul
@MLGLAW, Powers was in a U2.
IlyaJenkins
I'm fairly sure Powers was in a U2... still LM though. Anyway if anyone is interested, I hand make lego kits of SR-71s here.. facebook.com/toptablemodels