One of the administrative sergeants assigned to the unit called the Soviet embassy in San Francisco and proposed they give him $100,000 for several key documents related to the SR-71.
What aviation geek doesn’t love speed, new technologies, advanced manufacturing methods, and the mysteries of a secret government program? Many aircraft embody these features, but none come close to the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.
It could fly over Vietnam in eight minutes, its electronic counter measures were so advanced that they are still in use today on other airplanes and remain top-secret, had tires filled with nitrogen, and was made from one of the most expensive metals on earth. And, it’s still the world’s fastest plane.
For speed, innovation and secrecy, no aircraft of its era came close to the SR-71 Blackbird.
The following is an interesting story told by SR-71 Blackbird pilot Terry Pappas in his excellent book SR-71 Blackbird Q&A, available to buy HERE.
‘Sentenced to 25 years of hard labor at Leavenworth, Kansas.
‘When you try to sell top-secret information in 1985, Leavenworth is where you’re going.
‘One of the administrative sergeants assigned to the unit was in financial distress. He figured that the top secret information that he had about the SR-71 could be sold. He called the Soviet embassy in San Francisco and proposed they give him $100,000 for several key documents related to the SR-71. The Soviets figured that this guy was deranged so they notified US intelligence. He was caught. He got a one-way ticket to Leavenworth.’
‘Just how secure was the top-secret information? At Beale Air Force Base in California there was a cipher lock to enter the building. There was another lock to enter the hall where our squadron was then we had a separate room, there was safes lining the wall. Each of the RSO‘s and pilots had their own safe and in it was in a larger safe that had to be unlocked in order to get your safe. What did they keep in there? Their checklist, among other things. Security was paramount around the SR-71 program.’
Be sure to check out Linda Sheffield Miller, Col Richard (Butch) Sheffield’s daughter, Col. Sheffield was an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer) Facebook Page Habubrats for awesome Blackbird’s photos and stories.
Photo credit: Terry Pappas