SR-71 Blackbird, the Fastest Jet in the World


Daniel Oh, Journalist

Have you ever heard of the name “SR-71 Blackbird”? 

It’s a covert reconnaissance jet, famous for being the fastest jet-powered aircraft ever. So fast, infact, that in service, no SR-71’s were ever shot down. 

Its intention was to replace the U2 and A-12 jets. The U2 was high flying but slow, so it was vulnerable to anti-aircraft systems, either in the air or on the ground. As for the A-12, it was able to take higher quality photos, but the SR-71 had side cameras and radars. 


The first public showing of the Blackbird was in the fall of 1964. Claims say it had cruising altitudes of over Mach 3, and altitudes of over 70,000 feet. “Mach 1” is equivalent to the speed of sound, so Mach 3 is triple the speed of sound, or around 2,300 miles per hour. To put that number into perspective, the SR-71 can wrap around the equator of the Earth in around 14 hours. 


The purpose of the SR-71 is simply recon. The first operational flight didn’t take place until 1968(in the Vietnam War), and was used extensively for strategic imagery. 


The decline of the SR-71 came in the early 90’s when the original generals who knew the SR-71 and its benefits had retired. The new generation of generals decided to use their funding for other projects such as strategic bombers and the SR-71 was cut. 


Despite the fact the aircraft was made long ago, its record hasn’t been beaten since. Although the SR-71 isn’t in use today, it’s still remembered as one of the greatest engineering feats of human history. 


SR-71 in Action by Lou Drendal

Image from the wikipedia