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This picture says it all about leaks or no-leaks.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/97/Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird.jpg
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Old 11-10-2014, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by LWJ View Post
I saw the Boeing SR-71 on some flatbed trucks as they were heading to the museum. The plane was in three large parts if I recollect accurately. They stopped in Wilsonville, OR for a little amusement of the locals. It was spectacular to look at the internal construction as well as the external. Sort of a high-point for me.
They also stopped in Ridgfield, WA. You bet your azz I was there.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:11 PM
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Awesome aircraft. My dad was an aerospace engineer in the 60s and we were invited to several SR71 demonstrations after it was declassified in the late 70s. Quite a show and yes they leaked fuel all over the place.
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Old 11-10-2014, 08:41 PM
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Fuel leak when cold was the result of not being able to find a sealant flexible enough (and reliable enough) to work long term throughout the temperature range.

It was monitored and when it became too bad the tanks were striped and resealed...

The top off after take off was simply a cost saving measure... less stress on the tyres and also less stress on the brakes if T/O needed to be rejected.

As tanker support was always needed during the CIA/ USAF operations of the A12/SR-71, it made sense.

When NASA flew them in the 1990s after the 'first retirement' they used full fuel take offs as they did not have tanker support at Edwards. They also used full fuel when they had the YF-12A and the 'YF-12C' on their books in the 1970s
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:01 PM
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One of the designers of the SR-71 and now a lead designer/engineer at The Spaceship Company flew up to Seattle, bought my RF5B glider and flew it back to Mojave a couple of weeks ago. An interesting guy with interesting stories.
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by RF5BPilot View Post
One of the designers of the SR-71 and now a lead designer/engineer at The Spaceship Company flew up to Seattle, bought my RF5B glider and flew it back to Mojave a couple of weeks ago. An interesting guy with interesting stories.
That would have to be the understatement of the year.
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Old 11-10-2014, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RF5BPilot View Post
One of the designers of the SR-71 and now a lead designer/engineer at The Spaceship Company flew up to Seattle, bought my RF5B glider and flew it back to Mojave a couple of weeks ago. An interesting guy with interesting stories.
Burt Rutan is the lead designer on SpaceShipTwo, isn't he? He is too young to be have been involved in the design of the SR-71 which was started way back in 1960. That was 54 years ago. Kelly Johnson was the lead designer. I would think anyone having a major role in designing the SR-71 would be in their 80's now....
Old 11-11-2014, 12:35 AM
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I remembered the below from a post here years ago:



As a former SR-71 pilot, and a professional keynote speaker, the question I'm most often asked is "How fast would that SR-71 fly?" I can be assured of hearing that question several times at any event I attend. It's an interesting question, given the aircraft's proclivity for speed, but there really isn’t one number to give, as the jet would always give you a little more speed if you wanted it to. It was common to see 35 miles a minute. Because we flew a programmed Mach number on most missions, and never wanted to harm the plane in any way, we never let it run out to any limits of temperature or speed. Thus, each SR-71 pilot had his own individual “high” speed that he saw at some point on some mission. I saw mine over Libya when Khadafy fired two missiles my way, and max power was in order. Let’s just say that the plane truly loved speed and effortlessly took us to Mach numbers we hadn’t previously seen.

So it was with great surprise, when at the end of one of my presentations, someone asked, “what was the slowest you ever flew the Blackbird?” This was a first. After giving it some thought, I was reminded of a story that I had never shared before, and relayed the following.

I was flying the SR-71 out of RAF Mildenhall, England, with my back-seater, Walt Watson; we were returning from a mission over Europe and the Iron Curtain when we received a radio transmission from home base. As we scooted across Denmark in three minutes, we learned that a small RAF base in the English countryside had requested an SR-71 fly-past. The air cadet commander there was a former Blackbird pilot, and thought it would be a motivating moment for the young lads to see the mighty SR-71 perform a low approach. No problem, we were happy to do it. After a quick aerial refueling over the North Sea, we proceeded to find the small airfield.

Walter had a myriad of sophisticated navigation equipment in the back seat, and began to vector me toward the field. Descending to subsonic speeds, we found ourselves over a densely wooded area in a slight haze. Like most former WWII British airfields, the one we were looking for had a small tower and little surrounding infrastructure. Walter told me we were close and that I should be able to see the field, but I saw nothing. Nothing but trees as far as I could see in the haze. We got a little lower, and I pulled the throttles back from 325 knots we were at. With the gear up, anything under 275 was just uncomfortable. Walt said we were practically over the field—yet; there was nothing in my windscreen. I banked the jet and started a gentle circling maneuver in hopes of picking up anything that looked like a field. Meanwhile, below, the cadet commander had taken the cadets up on the catwalk of the tower in order to get a prime view of the fly-past. It was a quiet, still day with no wind and partial gray overcast. Walter continued to give me indications that the field should be below us but in the overcast and haze, I couldn’t see it. The longer we continued to peer out the window and circle, the slower we got. With our power back, the awaiting cadets heard nothing. I must have had good instructors in my flying career, as something told me I better cross-check the gauges. As I noticed the airspeed indicator slide below 160 knots, my heart stopped and my adrenalin-filled left hand pushed two throttles full forward. At this point we weren’t really flying, but were falling in a slight bank. Just at the moment that both afterburners lit with a thunderous roar of flame (and what a joyous feeling that was) the aircraft fell into full view of the shocked observers on the tower. Shattering the still quiet of that morning, they now had 107 feet of fire-breathing titanium in their face as the plane leveled and accelerated, in full burner, on the tower side of the infield, closer than expected, maintaining what could only be described as some sort of ultimate knife-edge pass.

Quickly reaching the field boundary, we proceeded back to Mildenhall without incident. We didn’t say a word for those next 14 minutes. After landing, our commander greeted us, and we were both certain he was reaching for our wings. Instead, he heartily shook our hands and said the commander had told him it was the greatest SR-71 fly-past he had ever seen, especially how we had surprised them with such a precise maneuver that could only be described as breathtaking. He said that some of the cadet’s hats were blown off and the sight of the plan form of the plane in full afterburner dropping right in front of them was unbelievable. Walt and I both understood the concept of “breathtaking” very well that morning, and sheepishly replied that they were just excited to see our low approach.

As we retired to the equipment room to change from space suits to flight suits, we just sat there-we hadn’t spoken a word since “the pass.” Finally, Walter looked at me and said, “One hundred fifty-six knots. What did you see?” Trying to find my voice, I stammered, “One hundred fifty-two.” We sat in silence for a moment. Then Walt said, “Don’t ever do that to me again!” And I never did.

A year later, Walter and I were having lunch in the Mildenhall Officer’s club, and overheard an officer talking to some cadets about an SR-71 fly-past that he had seen one day. Of course, by now the story included kids falling off the tower and screaming as the heat of the jet singed their eyebrows. Noticing our HABU patches, as we stood there with lunch trays in our hands, he asked us to verify to the cadets that such a thing had occurred. Walt just shook his head and said, “It was probably just a routine low approach; they’re pretty impressive in that plane.” Impressive indeed.

Little did I realize after relaying this experience to my audience that day that it would become one of the most popular and most requested stories. It’s ironic that people are interested in how slow the world’s fastest jet can fly. Regardless of your speed, however, it’s always a good idea to keep that cross-check up…and keep your Mach up, too.
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
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Burt Rutan is the lead designer on SpaceShipTwo, isn't he? He is too young to be have been involved in the design of the SR-71 which was started way back in 1960. That was 54 years ago. Kelly Johnson was the lead designer. I would think anyone having a major role in designing the SR-71 would be in their 80's now....
That's Scaled Composites.
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:43 AM
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:52 AM
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I remember seeing an SR-71 (while they were still operational) at an Edwards AFB open house many years ago. It was parked in a hanger, on display, roped off and with an armed guard nearby. Dripping fuel.

The SR-71 is just fascinating, I really hope our greatest, manned aeronautical achievements (SR-71, Apollo, Space Shuttle, etc.) aren't all behind us.
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Last edited by KNS; 11-11-2014 at 07:17 AM..
Old 11-11-2014, 07:08 AM
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Kurt, that is the nature of pioneering – once you're there, you're there.

everything now is a derivative from that era.

For example, Spaceship One, that won the X-prize, was essentially a re-creation of the X–15 program of 50 years ago; where a large winged mother ship launches a rocket-plane from 50,000 feet.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:49 AM
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I've always been fascinated by this plane. I took this photo in 1981 at Barksdale AFB. It flew in at very high speed over the base. Reportedly went all the way to Georgia to slow down and turn around to return.

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Old 11-11-2014, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
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That is actually an SR71B trainer
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:09 AM
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Kurt, that is the nature of pioneering – once you're there, you're there.
Perhaps, I'd just like to think that we have an even more capable spy plane that replaced the SR-71 that we don't know about. Not UAVs or satellites, manned spy planes.

We may be there but it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing the boundaries.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:32 AM
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Why do we need a manned spy plane if we can do the job with UAVs or satellites?
Old 11-11-2014, 08:36 AM
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Do we "need" a manned spy plane? Probably not. Safer for a variety of reasons, politically for sure.

I'm a pilot, I like the thought of some guy (or gal) at the controls of a high performance machine at the cutting edge of technology.

I believe the SR-71 offered some capabilities still not matched today, though.
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Last edited by KNS; 11-11-2014 at 09:02 AM..
Old 11-11-2014, 09:00 AM
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For the same reason we didn't need guns on F-4's in Vietnam.
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
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Perhaps, I'd just like to think that we have an even more capable spy plane that replaced the SR-71 that we don't know about. Not UAVs or satellites, manned spy planes.

We may be there but it doesn't mean we shouldn't keep pushing the boundaries.
So, I take it you didn't like when the Iranians took control of one of our stealth drones and brought it down for a landing.

Enter the autonomous machines to our brave new world.
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:21 AM
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:36 AM
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