Wednesday, February 27, 2008
SR 71 Blackbird.
On September 1, 1974 Major James V. Sullivan, 37 (pilot) and Noel F. Widdifield, 33 (reconnaissance systems officer) (photo inset), flashed across the starting line (radar gates in New York) at approximately 80,000 feet and speed in excess of 2,000 miles per hour. Exactly 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds later, they had set a new world speed record from New York to London England. The average speed was 1,807 statute mph over the 3,461 statute mile course, slowing to refuel one time from a specially modified KC-135 refueling tanker.
Another historic speed record was set on the return trip to the United States. Capt Harold B. Adams, 31 (pilot), and Major William Machorek, 32 (reconnaissance systems operator), set a speed record from London to Los Angeles. They returned the Blackbird 5,447 statute miles in 3 hours 47 minutes and 39 seconds for an average speed of 1,435 miles per hour. The difference in the two speed records was due to refueling requirements and having to slow over major US cities. Even so a large number of people in Los Angeles reported broken windows due to the sonic boom.