Why Was This Plane Invulnerable: The SR-71 Blackbird Story

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Van Hendrix : The SR71 Blackbird is one of the coolest planes ever made. It could fly higher, faster than anything it went up against. And it had a cool name too

Chuck Keough : I already know every single detail, story, fact, etc about this amazing plane.. but I'm gonna watch and thumbs up anyhow because the uploader obviously has good taste.

KuraIthys : Much like the Civilian Concorde, I suspect the design speaks to us because in spite of it's age nothing newer has ever been better than it. Or even come close. For Concorde, that may change in the near future. But for the SR-71 that's unlikely, because it's not really a viable solution to the problem it originally intended to solve anymore...

Sergio - If he dies, he dies - Ramos : As a former SR-71 pilot, and a professional keynote speaker, the question I'm most often asked is "How fast would that SR-71 fly?" I can be assured of hearing that question several times at any event I attend. It's an interesting question, given the aircraft's proclivity for speed, but there really isn't one number to give, as the jet would always give you a little more speed if you wanted it to. It was common to see 35 miles a minute. Because we flew a programmed Mach number on most missions, and never wanted to harm the plane in any way, we never let it run out to any limits of temperature or speed. Thus, each SR-71 pilot had his own individual “high” speed that he saw at some point on some mission. I saw mine over Libya when Khadafy fired two missiles my way, and max power was in order. Let’s just say that the plane truly loved speed and effortlessly took us to Mach numbers we hadn’t previously seen. So it was with great surprise, when at the end of one of my presentations, someone asked, “what was the slowest you ever flew the Blackbird?” This was a first. After giving it some thought, I was reminded of a story that I had never shared before, and relayed the following. I was flying the SR-71 out of RAF Mildenhall, England , with my back-seater, Walt Watson; we were returning from a mission over Europe and the Iron Curtain when we received a radio transmission from home base. As we scooted across Denmark in three minutes, we learned that a small RAF base in the English countryside had requested an SR-71 fly-past. The air cadet commander there was a former Blackbird pilot, and thought it would be a motivating moment for the young lads to see the mighty SR-71 perform a low approach. No problem, we were happy to do it. After a quick aerial refueling over the North Sea , we proceeded to find the small airfield. Walter had a myriad of sophisticated navigation equipment in the back seat, and began to vector me toward the field. Descending to subsonic speeds, we found ourselves over a densely wooded area in a slight haze. Like most former WWII British airfields, the one we were looking for had a small tower and little surrounding infrastructure. Walter told me we were close and that I should be able to see the field, but I saw nothing. Nothing but trees as far as I could see in the haze. We got a little lower, and I pulled the throttles back from 325 knots we were at. With the gear up, anything under 275 was just uncomfortable. Walt said we were practically over the field—yet; there was nothing in my windscreen. I banked the jet and started a gentle circling maneuver in hopes of picking up anything that looked like a field. Meanwhile, below, the cadet commander had taken the cadets up on the catwalk of the tower in order to get a prime view of the fly-past. It was a quiet, still day with no wind and partial gray overcast. Walter continued to give me indications that the field should be below us but in the overcast and haze, I couldn't see it.. The longer we continued to peer out the window and circle, the slower we got. With our power back, the awaiting cadets heard nothing. I must have had good instructors in my flying career, as something told me I better cross-check the gauges. As I noticed the airspeed indicator slide below 160 knots, my heart stopped and my adrenalin-filled left hand pushed two throttles full forward. At this point we weren't really flying, but were falling in a slight bank. Just at the moment that both afterburners lit with a thunderous roar of flame (and what a joyous feeling that was) the aircraft fell into full view of the shocked observers on the tower. Shattering the still quiet of that morning, they now had 107 feet of fire-breathing titanium in their face as the plane leveled and accelerated, in full burner, on the tower side of the infield, closer than expected, maintaining what could only be described as some sort of ultimate knife-edge pass. Quickly reaching the field boundary, we proceeded back to Mildenhall without incident. We didn't say a word for those next 14 minutes. After landing, our commander greeted us, and we were both certain he was reaching for our wings. Instead, he heartily shook our hands and said the commander had told him it was the greatest SR-71 fly-past he had ever seen, especially how we had surprised them with such a precise maneuver that could only be described as breathtaking. He said that some of the cadet’s hats were blown off and the sight of the plan form of the plane in full afterburner dropping right in front of them was unbelievable. Walt and I both understood the concept of “breathtaking” very well that morning, and sheepishly replied that they were just excited to see our low approach. As we retired to the equipment room to change from space suits to flight suits, we just sat there-we hadn't spoken a word since “the pass.” Finally, Walter looked at me and said, “One hundred fifty-six knots. What did you see?” Trying to find my voice, I stammered, “One hundred fifty-two.” We sat in silence for a moment. Then Walt said, “Don’t ever do that to me again!” And I never did. A year later, Walter and I were having lunch in the Mildenhall Officer’s club, and overheard an officer talking to some cadets about an SR-71 fly-past that he had seen one day. Of course, by now the story included kids falling off the tower and screaming as the heat of the jet singed their eyebrows. Noticing our HABU patches, as we stood there with lunch trays in our hands, he asked us to verify to the cadets that such a thing had occurred. Walt just shook his head and said, “It was probably just a routine low approach; they're pretty impressive in that plane.” Impressive indeed. Little did I realize after relaying this experience to my audience that day that it would become one of the most popular and most requested stories. It’s ironic that people are interested in how slow the world’s fastest jet can fly. Regardless of your speed, however, it’s always a good idea to keep that cross-check up…and keep your Mach up, too.

Kick butoxy : Los Angeles center reported receiving a request to clearance to FL60(flight level 60000ft). The incredulous controller with some disdain in his voice, Asked, "How exactly do you plan to get up to 60000ft?" The piolet (obviously a sled driver) responded "Centre we were hoping to descent to it." He was cleared immediately.

SandPox : These graphics mate

Tom M : I thought I was being rickrolled at 7:02

Man With a mouth : There’s probably a Blackbird Parallel today that goes at Mach 5 but no one knows since it’s top secret.

FabledSomething : Fun fact. CIA started several shadow companies that bought the Titanium to build the planes, from the Russians. As they were the ones with most of the mines on the planet. ^^ The Russians was then the key component to spy upon themselves. Without them, the plane could not be built. Damn it must have hurt real bad when this was finally revealed to them.


Mark F. : i wish the SR71 would blow up squarespace

velkoto1 : As an Eastern European I'm used to Russian planes and I must say I love them because they are cheap and reliable and in most cases superior to US rivals. But ever since I was 5 and I saw this plane for the first time I just can't stop admiring it. Now 29 years later I still can't believe what an amazing piece of technology this plane is and sometimes I even consider the alien technology conspiracy even though I know its bullshit. The SR-71 looks like nothing else today, imagine what it looked like for the people in the 60s and 70s. Amazing plane made by amazing people. Very well done, mr. Kelly Johnson and all other people in the Lockheed Scunk Works.

Fruit Farm Factory : $300 million to run!? Esically back in the 70's/80's. I love the jet and the look, but that is way too high maintenance bill.

TallulahSoie : The most beautiful aircraft ever created.

DBSupersteel : Alucard: the larked Sr 71 blackbird a strategic recon aircraft capable of mock 3 and an altitude of 85,000 feet Integra: you sure do know a lot about it Alucard: DO YOU EVEN READ MY CHRISTMAS LIST!!!

CrimZon Pegasus : To make the long message short: "Plane Literally Too Fast To Die"

It's Just a Gorilla : These animations man. Smooth as a baby's buttcheeks

the ripper : None of the nations wanted to be racist to the *black bird*

TX X : X-men uses this airplane

Puny Gods : Imagine what's flying now that we don't know about.

Volodymyr Shcherbatenko : WTF, Fahrenheit? Use metric system, barbarians!

pacus123 : Firstly I am going to say that the SR71 was truly a remarkable plane. You have remember this plane was designed in the 1950s when only a decade earlier prop planes were reigning supreme. However just like any other cold war warrior fielded by the US, unfortunately the fiction outweighs the facts. Yes, the SR71 could fly fast and it could fly high but that did not make it invulnerable. Here are the FACTs about the SR71: 1) The SR71 NEVER over flew the USSR. After the embarrassing incident of the U2 flown by Gary Powers was shot down while overflying the USSR, the US had to promise the Soviets it would not ever do this again. They kept their promise as the shoot down was a very HUMILIATING moment for the US as they were completely caught with their pants down. But more to the point, there was no need for the SR71 to overfly the USSR as it could take angled photos from within international airspace and not jeopardize its mission 2) Despite the SR71 having an excellent flight ceiling it is NOT the highest flying jet aircraft. Let me see if you can guess which aircraft holds this record? Well done if you guess the Mig 25! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_altitude_record#Jet_aircraft So this BS about the SR71 flying too high for it to be shot down is just NONSENSE. 3) The SR71 was tracked ALL THE WAY from take off to landing by the Soviets. YES, THIS IS TRUE. The SR71 flew pre-planned flight paths and stuck to it religiously. It was not a plane designed for maneuvering. It simply could not do this. Flying at Mach 2+ it had a turning radius of hundreds of kms making it VERY EASY to intercept. In fact the Swedes and Soviets regularly intercepted the SR71 and the Swedes themselves mentioned how the Mig 31 would intercept the SR71, perform a mock shoot down and then disengage. You can read the full article here of how the SR71 was intercepted regularly: https://www.rbth.com/articles/2012/09/03/foxhound_vs_blackbird_how_the_migs_reclaimed_the_skies_17363

oskarelmee : JA37 viggen disagree that it was invulnerable.

Mukund Shivakumar : Graphics 10/10 Facts 10/10 Anti-clickbait 999/10 Best YouTube channel ever

cobra3289 : This Channel is so much better than Discovery anD History

Kristopher Priedkalns : I've seen one of these in an air museum in real life, it's unbelievable how flat it is for a plane.

goldsilverandiamonds : The U.S. flew over the Soviet Union regularly undetected just like they do over Russia now.

KrazyKiwi : Basically. We still haven't taken it to it's potential, or it's not recorded. But here's a little something. Many others who have worked with the SR71 have said the same. "NO. No one on Earth has anything even remotely close. The MIG 25 and slightly slower 31 are both bicycles versus a motorcycle by comparison. The SR-71 is still the fastest manned air breathing “jet” (actually turbo-ramjet that has a pure ramjet mode). I once worked with data from the Blackbird, and it had a pure ramjet mode where the turbine compressors were by passed, then negating the inlet temperature limit in turbo-ramjet mode. There is a truth to getting permission to exceed the inlet temp limit….but the truth is the SR went into a pure ramjet mode afterwards… when the turbo ramjet and afterburners were completely bypassed which happened at speeds over mach 3.5. The inlet temp limit at this point and beyond did NOT apply…. (it would during transition though). This part of the SR 71 flight manual is not shown, or available, though the main manual can be downloaded online. Also, ABOVE 3.5 mach, the afterburners were NOT in use…NO FLAMES OUT THE BACK !!! Instead, A shockwave from the forward fusalage chimes and the variable cones on the front of the engines formed, creating a vacuum and the SR literally “sucked” its way through the upper Stratosphere climbing past 100,000 upto 130,000 feet at sustained speeds normally over mach 4, and could sprint past mach 5... The leading edges of the wings would get near 2000 deg F at over mach 5 not just 600 deg F at mach 3. Now, many like to compare the MIG 25 to the Blackbird (which in reality is laughable) . The MIG 25 was designed solely to go after a mach 3 bomber that was never built due to a mid air accident with an F 104. Since the B 70 never came to be, the MIG 25 was thought a natural for intercepting the SR 71 . The SR 71 in reality flew too high and far too fast for the MIG 25 Foxbat. Now, if the XB 70 had become the B 70…the 75,000 to 80,000 foot mach 3 bomber as originally intended, the MIG 25 would have been a “real” threat…For the SR 71, the MIG 25 was a “JOKE”. Like a bicyclist trying to keep up with a passing car on a rural interstate… except the SR could cruize 30,000 feet above the MIG 25s max service ceiling… at altidudes where the missiles of the time could not handle maneuvering and had a “negative” closure rate anyway. Today's S 400 missile system and the U.S. THAAD. would be a threat, to the SR, but for many decades, SA 2s, SA 5s and SA 10s were basically wasted trying to intercept. After a while some nations just gave up and would switch their SAMs off instead of wasting them when an SR was detected on radar, which in many instances, meant it had already overflown, since it was capable of moving at about one mile per second. Now in turboramjet mode the Blackbird was designed to cruize at 3.2 to 3.3 mach, true. But it could go more than another couple of mach numbers faster in another operating mode. Its time for the SR 71 to be celebrated since they are retired and in museums."

Joshua Bergen : I appreciate this well constructed video. Everything from your excellent modelling to carefully chosen footage and constructive narrative all deliver a concise and deliberate presentation that frankly, gives proper recognition to one of the greatest engineering marvels of this time. Finally, the absence of a text-speech recording is very, very much appreciated. Hats off and a well earned sub.

AirsoftSlo : The damn thing ran faster than a missile that was targeting them.

Atgeir Nyttingnes : It wasn't Invulnerable. Jan 31, 1986 a Mig-31 had a Radar lock on a SR-71. And on Jun. 3, 1986 a SR71 was intercepted by six Mig-31's over the Barents Sea by performing a coordinated interception. In case they had fired, it was no chances that the SR-71 could avoid an R-33 missile that the Mig-31 used at that time, those missiles had a speed on Mach 4.5 - Mach 6! Also the Swedish Saab 37 Viggen have had Radar lock on a SR-71, with the Mach 4, British RB 71 Skyflash air-to-air missiles, witch would be very difficult to avoid for the SR-71

OHM-968692 : 1:00 Excuse me, but Yugoslavia was a neutral nation.

mbogucki1 : You need to make vintage looking posters. I would pay for those.

Malc180s : "Now more than ever the US needed a replacement for the U2". Well, not really. They could've just minded their own business. Sadly this never enters the mind of an American.

Dai Jeffery : It's funny how the titanium used for the SR-71 came from Russia; they didn't know who they were selling it to.

danguee1 : Honestly - check your facts! The $300M/year (a consensus estimate - as there were no published official figures) was for the whole programme - not a single plane. Such a gross error makes you look stupid and means it's hard to believe any of the other stuff you're claiming here.....

Babalugats : Emphasizing every word at the end of every SENTENCE. This could have been one of the coolest videos on the PLANE. I tried twice to finish watching it but it was just too ANNOYING. I can't stand listening to this anyMORE.

AardvarkLord : I actually got to talk with a SR-71 pilot and he talked about some really fascinating details about the thing. My personal favorite is that they would actually bring personally-designed lunches onto the plane and just use the windscreen as an oven to cook their food, because it actually got that hot. Also, they needed to taxi the plane as quickly as possible for take-off, because the fuel tanks were designed to expand in-flight, but that meant that they leaked like Niagra Falls when on the ground.

Baron Saturday : I ordered an SR-71 Blackbird on eBay, I can't wait till it arrives. I'm gonna spy on....... ................. .................................. ................................................

Callum Tanner : I've touched an SR-71!!! There's one at Duxford imperial war museum in the U.K. I'm ngl I almost fainted in awh of it. One of my favourite aircraft's ever

Skyrocket888 : It was so invulnerable it never flew over USSR ever since MIG 25 and 31. Retired having not done much. Great plane utterly useless.

TheHvk : Favorite killstreak in Black Ops 1. This thing was a beast.

M1TGLIED : My Father was in the soviet army in mid 70s at the pacific border (Air Defence Forces). He told me, they tracked SR-71 many times, but no chance to case them. So they developed strategy to disturb the rec-mission of SR. The air route of SR-71 was almost the same every time. So they put some interceptors on this route and an alternative route, if they knew SR was on the way. So the interceptors were able to track the SR-71 from the side or front. The crew of SR knew if they got tracked by interceptors, then they aborted the mission and breaked away to gain the distance from the coast.

nisse73 : https://theaviationgeekclub.com/viggen-vs-blackbird-swedish-air-force-ja-37-fighter-pilots-able-achieve-radar-lock-legendary-sr-71-mach-3-spy-plane/

Andreas Kristensen : Invulnerable? In the beginning they flew the SR-71 over Sweden - neutral territory. Meaning, Sweden is, or was at least not at that time, not allied with anyone. The Swedes did not appreciate that. So the next time it happened, they scrambled. And boy did they get up there next to the SR-71, have it in sight and threaten it, fast! The Swedish JAS-37 was very much up to the task of downing these "birds". Five times the Swedes had a lock on on the SR-71, as in, a small window, seconds, where they could attack it (approaching dead on target). This ended the Americans flight path over Swedish air space. So no, not invulnerable. Edit: https://theaviationgeekclub.com/viggen-vs-blackbird-swedish-air-force-ja-37-fighter-pilots-able-achieve-radar-lock-legendary-sr-71-mach-3-spy-plane/

Tom Ryner : A Swedish Saab AJ 37 missile locked the BLACKBIRD just to prove Swedish ingenuity ... And That bird only had a rating of Mach 2.1... Ehm...😁 It was a 'tad' faster that that... With one HUGE engine.

Zevin X : Fun fact: The Soviet Union never flew spy planes above the United States, The United States was always more aggressive than the Soviets during the cold war. Also some incorrect information here the Mig-25 set higher altitude flights than the SR-71 at 123,520ft The SR only flying at 85,068 feet, the catch is that the MIG couldn't maintain the speed for as long, nor could reach the highest altitudes fitted with exterior missiles. All and all though, The MIG-25 is one of the most wild aircraft ever produced, not to mention over 1,000 were manufactured. It still holds aviation records and is a marvel of Soviet air power, i suggest anyone interested read more about it, you rarely hear of soviet aircraft in the west.

Nabusco : Sexiest plane ever built.

Toxic Waste Radioactive : I bet China could not make a plane this fast.

Immortal TG : Fish @ 4.2 mach, wow