The SR-71, unofficially known as the “Blackbird,” is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on 22 December 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California in January 1966. The US Air Force retired its fleet of SR-71s on 26 January 1990 because of a decreasing defense budget and high costs of operations.
Throughout its nearly 24-year career, the SR-71 remained the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. From 80,000 feet it could survey 100,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface per hour. On 28 July 1976, an SR-71 set two world records for its class: an absolute speed record of 2,193.167 miles per hour and an absolute altitude record of 85,060.997 feet.
The aircraft on display was delivered to the USAF in December 1965. Little is known about the operational locations and missions of the SR-71 fleet. While home based from Beale AFB, California, many deployed to other locations for missions. The aircraft on display is known to have flown numerous missions from Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan. On 27/28 July 1976, it did establish a speed record on a run over 15/25-kilometer course of 2,193.167 mph. It was retired and flown to Robins for display on 23 February 1990.
Span: 55 ft. 7 in.
Length: 107 ft. 5 in.
Height: 18 ft. 6 in.
Weight: 170,000 lbs. loaded
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney J58s of 32,500 lbs. thrust ea. with afterburner
Serial Number: 61-7958
Maximum speed: Over 2,200 mph.
Range: 3,000 miles
Service ceiling: Over 85,000 ft.