Miscellaneous Blackbird Information

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The Blackbird crossed the United States in 1990 at a record speed of 2,124 mph.

There are three variations of the Blackbird: the A-12, YF-12, and SR-71.

Blackbird missions over North Vietnam were the fastest ever flown in combat.

At high speeds and altitudes, friction causes the metal skin of the Blackbird to heat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

The pressure suits worn by the crew are identical to those worn by astronauts on space shuttle missions.

The SR-71's engines run on JP7 fuel, which is a special low-volatility fuel. A fleet of modified KC-135Q tankers keep the Blackbird in the air.

The Blackbird's tires are filled with nitrogen and impregnated with powdered aluminum to enable them to withstand heat.

The J58 engines operate as ordinary jets at low speeds, switching to become ramjets at higher speeds above 2,000 m.p.h.

The nose contains reconnaissance sensors. The entire unit is detachable so that different sensor combinations can be quickly fitted.

To withstand the friction-generated heat at Mach 3, over 90 percent of the Blackbird's airframe is made of titanium alloy.

There are four compartments in the fuselage that can house panoramic, long-range and infrared cameras, electronic intelligence sensors and side-looking radars.

The only other aircraft that approaches the Blackbird's speed is the MiG-25 Foxbat, and it can only sustain Mach 3 for a few minutes, which is compared to the five to eight hour missions that are regularly flown by the SR-71. The Concorde is the only other aircraft that can sustain supersonic flight for many hours at a time.

Back when the SR-71 was first introduced, a pilot could set off from one of its three main bases and get photography of any part of the surface of the earth within a six-hour time period.

The SR-71 is one of the first examples of the use of stealth technology.