The SR-71 Blackbird—arguably the most iconic aircraft of the Cold War—was a long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3‑plus strategic reconnaissance spy plane that was developed and manufactured by Lockheed Corporation.
Throughout its distinguished nearly twenty-four-year career, the Blackbird was considered the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft—and with such next-generation capabilities, it is no surprise that the pilots who flew it have plenty of fascinating tales to tell.
Mach 3+ Acceleration
Per defense writer Dario Leone at the Aviation Geek Club, one unique story comes from a former SR-71 Blackbird pilot Capt. Steve “Griz” Grzebiniak.
In Richard H. Graham’s book SR-71 Revealed The Inside Story, he recounts the time when he accelerated his HABU (Habu is a nickname sometimes used for the SR-71) to Mach 3.2 in an effort to deny an F‑15 pilot an “easy” simulated kill during a training sortie.
“We flew the HABU as a high-altitude target for the F‑15’s only on our infrequently scheduled ‘DEBBIE’ training sorties. We were the fighter’s ‘training aid,’ but it provided us with some valuable training and insight as well. I think it’s common knowledge that our aircraft and pilots are the finest in the world and if anyone could shoot down an SR-71, it would be one of our own,” he writes.
“Our pre-briefed mission required us to fly a specific track, at Mach 2.8 and no higher than seventy thousand feet. In addition, we were required to fly over a designated point in space (the IP) and call our time out from the IP in one minute intervals starting five minutes back. If that wasn’t enough, we would dump some fuel at the IP to help the fighters get a visual ‘tally’ on us. After each …
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