The iconic SR-71 Blackbird spy plane is known for being the official record holder for the fastest jet-powered, piloted aircraft of all time.
Another Blackbird, the YF-12 high-altitude, Mach 3 interceptor was developed from the A-12 to defend against supersonic bombers. The YF-12 was never adopted by the military as an operational aircraft. The YF-12 too was, however, a precursor to the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane.
At this point, one might ask which member of the Blackbird family was the faster and which one reached the highest altitude.
Linda Sheffield Miller (Col Richard (Butch) Sheffield’s daughter, Col. Sheffield was an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Officer), who runs Habubrats Facebook page, may have some answers.
She explained to The Aviation Geek Club:
“The A-12, also known as Oxcart, altitude and speed are unofficial because the A-12 remained top-secret until 1982. Ken Collins, A-12 pilot and SR -71 pilot [who also flew with Col. Sheffield] has revealed an altitude of 94,000 feet!
“The maximum design cruise speed was Mach 3.2. The speed was limited by structural temperature restrictions.
“The SR-71 flew faster than the rotation of the earth.”
She also listed the fastest known flights:
How high could the Blackbirds fly?
“The Blackbirds were designed to fly as high as 90,000 feet, but typically operated between 70,000 and 85,000 feet,” says Linda.
Highest known flights:
Actually the Blackbird’s incredible speed enabled it to gather intelligence in a matter of a few seconds while streaking across unfriendly skies. Thanks to these astonishing flight characteristics, the Blackbirds have set numerous speed and altitude records during their career.
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin and NASA
The F4U Corsair The Vought F4U Corsair was a high-performance fighter aircraft, either carrier or… Read More
Stealth aircraft By the 1970s, new materials and techniques allowed engineers to design an aircraft… Read More
Turkish Kaan National Combat Aircraft maiden flight Filmed on Feb. 21, 2024 the video in… Read More
Operation Deliberate Force In reaction to the resulting 1992 air war between self-proclaimed Serbian Krajina… Read More
The EF-111A Raven EF-111A Ravens, known affectionately as "Fat Tails" and "Spark Varks," (the F-111… Read More
Belgian Air Force 'Dream Viper' F-16 Solo Display Team disbanded A big loss for the… Read More