The historic first flight of the SR-71 Blackbird occurred on December 22, 1964. When asked about the first flight, Chief Test Pilot Bob Gilliland commented: “The first flight was relatively uneventful. Just one emergency, and another minor problem. A canopy-unsafe light illuminated at Mach 1.2 on the way to 1.5 MACH at 50,000 feet, and later, during a fly-by requested by Kelly Johnson, fuel siphoning occurred. Not bad, as initial test flights go”.
Since 1976, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird has held the world record for the fastest ‘air-breathing manned aircraft’ with a recorded speed of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h). That works out to a staggering 36.55 miles/58.83 km per minute.
The Blackbird was so fast that its strategy against surface-to-air missiles was to simply accelerate and outfly them. Below you will find an extensive gallery of this iconic aircraft along with information on the history, design and records the plane holds to this day.