Home Cold War Era This Aircraft was Faster than the SR-71 (Look Closely it’s not a Blackbird)

This Aircraft was Faster than the SR-71 (Look Closely it’s not a Blackbird)

by Dario Leone
Time to eject! A-12 pilot explains how he was able to bail out safely from his Oxcart after it went into a flat inverted spin

The A-12 Oxcart was a super-secret, single-seater spy plane and was more secret and much rarer than the SR-71. In fact, the SR-71 was actually developed from the A-12.

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.

This Aircraft was Faster than the SR-71 (Look Closely it's not a Blackbird)
A-12s

However, there has actually been a legitimate, jet-powered, piloted aircraft that was faster than the SR-71, the A-12 Oxcart.

‘The A-12 Oxcart was a super-secret, single-seater spy plane and was more secret and much rarer than the SR-71,’ says Christian Nelson, an aviation expert, on Quora. ‘In fact, the SR-71 was actually developed from the A-12.’

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‘Despite bearing the marks of the USAF, it was developed for and only ever flown by the CIA. It was meant to be the replacement for the U-2 spy plane, though both it and the SR-71 was decommissioned before the U-2. I mean the U-2 still flies to this day, more than half a century after its first flight. So, fail marks on that account for the Ox-Bird sisters.

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‘Anyway, according to Lockheed (who designed and built them) the A-12 Oxcart was officially able to fly at 95,000ft and at 2,221 mph or at Mach 3.35. Compare that to 85,000ft and 2,112mph or Mach 3.2 of the SR-71. Though there are anecdotal stories of both aircraft surpassing the official records for speed and altitude.

‘The CIA operated the A-12 slightly under its capacity it seems because their documented numbers are slightly lower than Lockheed’s; about 3mph slower and 5000ft lower.

‘Here’s a spec-sheet from the CIA’s official website.’

This Aircraft was Faster than the SR-71 (Look Closely it's not a Blackbird)

Nelson concludes:

‘Both planes can be viewed side-by-side in Blackbird Park situated within Air Force Plant 42 next to Palmdale Regional Airport in Palmdale, California. So, like, go see it or something.’

This Aircraft was Faster than the SR-71 (Look Closely it's not a Blackbird)

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and CIA

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Welcome to The Aviation Geek Club, your new stopover aviation place. Launched in 2016 by Dario Leone, an Italian lifelong - aviation geek, this blog is the right place where you can share your passion and meet other aviation enthusiasts from all over the world.
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