SR-71 RSO recalls when his Blackbird Photographed all of the SA-2 SAM Sites in North Korea in One Mission before doing an Emergency Landing in South Korea

The day an SR-71 Blackbird crew used the Morse code to say “F**k” off to North Korean regime (They were preparing to shoot SAMs in neutral airspace)

By Linda Sheffield Miller
Dec 31 2023
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The SR-71 Blackbird

The SR-71 spy plane, the most advanced member of the Blackbird family that included the A-12 and YF-12, was designed by a team of Lockheed personnel led by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, then vice president of Lockheed’s Advanced Development Company Projects, commonly known as the “Skunk Works” and now a part of Lockheed Martin. The Blackbird completed its first flight on Dec. 22, 1964.

SR-71 T-Shirts
CLICK HERE to see The Aviation Geek Club contributor Linda Sheffield’s T-shirt designs! Linda has a personal relationship with the SR-71 because her father Butch Sheffield flew the Blackbird from test flight in 1965 until 1973. Butch’s Granddaughter’s Lisa Burroughs and Susan Miller are graphic designers. They designed most of the merchandise that is for sale on Threadless. A percentage of the profits go to Flight Test Museum at Edwards Air Force Base. This nonprofit charity is personal to the Sheffield family because they are raising money to house SR-71, #955. This was the first Blackbird that Butch Sheffield flew on Oct. 4, 1965.

The SR-71 was designed to cruise at “Mach 3+,” just over three times the speed of sound or more than 2,200 miles per hour and at altitudes up to 85,000 feet.

SR-71 Blackbird crew Vs North Korean regime

As told by Paul Crickmore in his book SR-71 Blackbird Combat Legend, in 1981 U-2 and SR-71 sorties began collecting ELINT and other data on a suspected SA-2 surface-to-air missile (SAM) site which was under construction on the island of Choc Tarrie in an estuary near the western end of Korea’s DMZ.

The North Koreans we’re preparing to shoot missiles in the airspace of an area that had been declared by both sides NEUTRAL.

Nevin Cunningham and Gino Quist, US Air Force (USAF) SR-71 crew, wanted to give their own personal response.

Flying the SR-71 #967 on a two Loop sortie of the DMZ on Aug. 25, 1981 Nevin flicked on fuel dump switch during a final pass and in quick Morse code spelled out the four-letter expletive:

SR-71 print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. SR-71A Blackbird 61-7972 “Skunkworks”

“F**k” off to the North Korean regime.

North Korean ground trackers who were ATTEMPTING to follow the SR-71 visually were watching. This message they were sending sure did provide lots of laughs back at the Habu’s bar at Kadena Air Base.

The very next day they attempted to shoot down the SR-71 Blackbird flown Murray Rosenberg and Ed McKim with an SA-2.

Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Be sure to check out Linda Sheffield Miller (Col Richard (Butch) Sheffield’s daughter, Col. Sheffield was an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer) Twitter Page Habubrats SR-71 and Facebook Page Born into the Wilde Blue Yonder for awesome Blackbird’s photos and stories.

Photo credit: Lockheed Martin and U.S. Air Force

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird model
This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

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Linda Sheffield Miller

Linda Sheffield Miller

Grew up at Beale Air Force Base, California. I am a Habubrat. Graduated from North Dakota State University. Former Public School Substitute Teacher, (all subjects all grades). Member of the DAR (Daughters of the Revolutionary War). I am interested in History, especially the history of SR-71. Married, Mother of three wonderful daughters and four extremely handsome grandsons. I live near Washington, DC.
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