Aviation History

Video shows SR-71 Blackbird Last Flight (at a speed of Mach 3.2!)

The last ever flight of an SR-71 Blackbird took place on Oct. 9, 1999 at the Edwards AFB Open House Airshow.

Taken on Saturday Oct. 9, 1999 at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) the short movie in this post shows the last ever flight of an SR-71 Blackbird.

This flight took place at the Edwards AFB Open House Airshow.

30 minutes after the take off the SR-71 had climbed to 80,100ft and was travelling at a speed of Mach 3.2 (which equates to 2,430 mph!).

In order for the crowd to spot her, she dumped a trail of fuel in anticipation for the sonic boom.

The Habu then descended over Edwards for three flypasts before landing for the very last time in her history.

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

So from Oct. 9, 1999 she never flew again.

For a quarter-century, Lockheed’s Mach 3 SR-71A Blackbird reconnaissance aircraft dominated the skies as no other. As SR-71 pilot and author Brian Shul once noted, more people have stood atop Mt. Everest than have flown what remains the world’s fastest, highest-flying jet.

A total of 32 aircraft were built.

The secrets of the SR-71’s ground breaking technology were so highly prized by foreign operatives that, in 1968, Lockheed was ordered by the government to destroy all tooling used to create and build the Blackbird.

According to Airman Magazine, the SR-71 was also the world’s first stealth aircraft.

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

To become nearly undetectable the aircraft had to take on a unique shape. The wings were blended into the body and the long blade-like surfaces along the forward fuselage, known as chines, aided in deflecting incoming radar waves.

The inward-angled twin fins over the engines and the pointed engine cones also decreased the Blackbird’s radar cross-section. The lower fuselage was nearly flat giving the 107-foot SR-71 its sleek and futuristic spear look.

The SR-71 was finished in a black ferrite (iron) radar absorbing paint. The paint made the aircraft even more difficult to target and aided in thermal protection due to 600-degree external temperatures caused by friction during flight.

The black paint also provided the spy plane the look for its official Air Force name, Blackbird.

Photo credit: NASA

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

View Comments

  • I respectfully disagree with Airman Magazine if they really claimed the SR-71 was the first stealth aircraft. In my opinion, it had some stealth design characteristics but, it did not have a really low radar cross-section. It could be tracked with Vietnam War series radars but, it did have a low-radar cross section for its size. So did the U-2, it was usually harder to track but, a smaller aircraft. I would argue the first true stealth aircraft was the prototype called Have Blue, that turned into F-117 in production. My opinion, but, I did work with all three aircraft during operational flights and some during flight tests.

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