Flightline Friday: Flying the SR-71 at greater than Mach 3.5

A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

It’s been a more or less open secret in defense circles for decades that the Air Force has constantly under-rated the performance of both the U-2 and the763wsr71 SR-71.  The U-2 was capable of flying far higher than the officially published figure of 70,000 ft (even if the increasing weight of the sensors it carries has limited that capability somewhat in the past 10-20 years, the TR-1 model could exceed 90,0000 ft), and the maximum speed and altitude of the SR-71 was known to exceed the official “Mach 3 at 70,000 ft.”  In fact, depending very much on the ambient temperature and density at altitude, the SR-71 could easily exceed Mach 3.5 and was capable of flying so fast it could literally tear itself apart.  Pilots had to carefully monitor sensors that told them things like inlet spike temperature, leading temperature, etc.  But when conditions were right, when the air…

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