SR-71 Blackbird: A Fast History
11 December 2014
President Lyndon B. Johnson publicly announced the existence of the classified Lockheed SR-71 program in 1964. First flight of the SR-71 would come on 22 December 1964. Operational aircraft deliveries began in 1966. Throughout its career, the SR-71, unofficially, universally known as Blackbird, remained the world's fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. The US Air Force terminated the program in January 1990, closing out a twenty-four year operational career. The Blackbird program was briefly revived in 1997 and a small number of training flights were made, but funding was zeroed out. The program officially ended in 1999.
20 April 2010
Origins of the SR 71 date back to the late 1950s when legendary Lockheed designer and Skunk Works founder Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson proposed a high speed, high altitude alternative to supplement the Lockheed-built U-2 subsonic reconnaissance plane that would soon become vulnerable to Soviet missiles. As a result, the Blackbird family was initiated with the A 12, which first flew in April 1962. The single-seat A-12s were the smallest of the Blackbird series. Designed for reconnaissance missions, the A-12 spawned a two-place, armed version designated YF-12A, which was proposed as an interceptor. Although never adopted for this role, the YF-12s made important contributions as research aircraft, serving for more than a decade with NASA. It was the first aircraft capable of sustaining speeds above Mach 3.