The most remarkable airplane of the 20th century  JUN 26 2009

A short appreciation of the SR-71 Blackbird, an airplane that was literally faster than a speeding bullet.

"It wasn't like any other airplane," he told me. It was terrifying, exciting, intense and humbling every time you flew. Each mission was designed to fly at a certain speed; you always knew the airplane had more. It was like driving to work in a double-A fuel dragster."

The skin of the plane's fuselage was a whopping 85% titanium, which was purchased, during the Cold War, from the Soviet Union.

Update: See also SR-71 Groundspeed Check, Google Map of where all the Blackbirds are, and SR-71 Disintegrates Around Pilot During Flight Test:

Everything seemed to unfold in slow motion. I learned later the time from event onset to catastrophic departure from controlled flight was only 2-3 sec. Still trying to communicate with Jim, I blacked out, succumbing to extremely high g-forces. The SR-71 then literally disintegrated around us. From that point, I was just along for the ride.

(thx, doug, clay & tom)

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