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The SR-71 BlackBird


In April 1986, following an attack on American

soldiers in a  Berlin disco, President Reagan

ordered the bombing of Muammar Qaddafi’s

terrorist camps in  Libya .

My duty was to fly over Libya , and take

photographs recording the damage our F-111’s

had inflicted.

Qaddafi had established a ‘line of death,’

a territorial marking across the  Gulf of Sidra ,

swearing to shoot down any intruder, that crossed

the boundary.

On the morning of April 15, I rocketed past the line at 2,125 mph.

I was piloting the SR-71 spy plane, the world’s

fastest jet, accompanied by a Marine Major (Walt),

the aircraft’s reconnaissance systems officer (RSO).

We had crossed into Libya , and were approaching

our final turn over the bleak desert landscape, when

Walt informed me, that he was receiving missile

launch signals.

I quickly increased our speed, calculating the time

it would take for the weapons, most likely SA-2 and SA-4

surface-to-air missiles, capable of Mach 5 – to reach

our altitude.

I estimated, that we could beat the rocket-powered

missiles to the turn, and stayed our course, betting

our lives on the plane’s performance.

After several agonizingly long seconds, we made

the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean .

‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walt suggested.

It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles

full forward.

The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well

above our Mach 3.2 limit.

It was the fastest we would ever fly.

I pulled the throttles to idle, just south of  Sicily ,

but we still overran the refueling tanker, awaiting us

over  Gibraltar …

Scores of significant aircraft have been produced,

in the 100 years of flight, following the achievements

of the Wright brothers, which we celebrate in


Aircraft such as the Boeing 707, the F-86 Sabre Jet,

and the P-51 Mustang, are among the important machines,

that have flown our skies.

But the SR-71, also known as the Blackbird, stands alone

as a significant contributor to Cold War victory, and as the

fastest plane ever, and only 93 Air Force pilots, ever steered

the ‘sled,’ as we called our aircraft.

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conversation overheard on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai

FA-18 Fighter Jet.

Iranian Air Defense Site: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’
‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’
Air Defense Site:
‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’
‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter.  Send ’em up, I’ll wait!’
Air Defense Site:
( …. total silence)

God bless our troops.
There is something about a Marine that makes other countries listen to reason

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