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SR-71

SR71_700

Camera: Fuji X-T1
Exposure: 1/7
Aperture: f/6.4
Focal Length: 172mm (300mm full frame equivalent)
ISO: 1000

This airplane, the SR-71 Blackbird is one of the most exotic aircraft ever to have flown and also one of the most difficult aircraft to photograph when on the ground.  This aircraft is absolutely huge, very long and very black and consequently, getting the whole aircraft in frame is difficult unless you are at some distance.  So, one approach is simply focusing in on details.  In this case, the forward cockpit whose windows got so hot in flight that you could literally have cooked a turkey on them.  The kinds of sustained temperatures this plane flew at effectively retempered the titanium skin, creating unique flying parameters for each aircraft.

This aircraft was the stuff of legend.  When we were kids, I remember seeing one at Carswell AFB in Ft. Worth Texas.  That particular aircraft had a literal armed guard around it which added to the mystique for us.  The SR-71 was officially retired in 1989 and the satellite imaging programs were aggressively phased in.  That said, those early satellite operations had rollout issues at the same time that world events in the Middle East and Eastern Europe were getting complicated.  This resulted in a short term reactivation of the aircraft, but they were finally and permanently retired in 1998.

This particular SR-71 resides at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in the Udvar Hazy facility and prior to its display, set 4 world speed records in route to the Smithsonian on its last and final mission for the Air Force.  These records included a flight from Los Angeles, California to Washington D.C. in 67 minutes, 54 seconds.

Categories: Machines.

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4 Responses

  1. Love it! What a plane! I never got to see a real one while growing up in Switzerland, but I did have a (plastic) Revell model SR-71 and it was the ultimate, coolest airplane ever – and still is, I think.

    There’s a very cool description how they got transported from Burbank (building plant) to Area 51:
    http://www.roadrunnersinternationale.com/transporting_the_a-12.html
    (not sure if pasting the link works… if not, google for “transporting A12 Area 51”
    Best

    Dino LeoneApril 11, 2014 @ 1:26 pmReply
  2. Hi Bryan
    That’s a nice point of view. At Hill AFB, they’ve got the two-seat (tandem) trainer on exhibit. The whole hangar that holds all the jet aircraft is rather dark, so that would be a good exercise for the low-light performance of your Fuji. At Evergreen Air & Space Museum in Oregon, they have another SR-71 in a perfectly brightly lit building along with a D-21 drone. Well worth a stop.

    • Yeah, I’ve seen the one up at Hill AFB. They also have an SR-71 with D-21 drone up at the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in Seattle. Great place with some amazing exhibits. All of the aircraft from the Champlain Fighter Museum down in Arizona were moved there.



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