Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission

Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission

Paperback(Revised ed.)

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For anyone who has ever wondered what its like to fly the SR-71 on a secret Mach 3 reconnaissance mission, this book has the answer. Flying the SR-71 Blackbird takes readers along on an operational mission that only a few Air Force pilots have ever experienced.

The Lockheed SR-71, unofficially known as the Blackbird, was an advanced, long-range, Mach 3 strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed by Lockheed Skunk Works. The aircraft flew so fast and high that not one was ever shot down, even by a missile. SR-71 pilot and instructor Colonel Richard Graham offers a rare cockpit perspective on how regular Air Force pilots and navigators transformed themselves into SR-71 Blackbird crews, turning their unique aviation talents to account in an unprecedented way.

Arguably the worlds foremost expert on piloting the Blackbird, Graham details, as no one else could, what an SR-71 mission entails, from donning a pressure suit to returning to base.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780760366417
Publisher: Motorbooks
Publication date: 10/08/2019
Edition description: Revised ed.
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 352,955
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

A veteran of fifteen years of assignments within the SR-71 community, Colonel Richard H. Graham is uniquely qualified to tell the Blackbird's story. Crew member, instructor pilot, chief of the standardization/evaluation division, Colonel Graham was named SR-71 Squadron Commander, 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, in January 1981. A command pilot with more than 4,600 military flying hours, he has earned military decorations and awards including the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eighteen oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" device and one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Combat Readiness Medal with one oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Colonel Graham's books on the SR-71 include SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story and SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales and Legends. He lives in Plano, Texas.

Jay Miller was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. Growing up in “Indy” during the '50s, '60s & '70s had a powerful impact on young men. Known as the “Racing Capital of the World” it was hard to escape heavy involvement into motorsports. Jay Miller is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Diesel Injection Service Company, Inc., a Louisville, Kentucky, based company which, in addition to specializing in Diesel Fuel injection, is also the nation’s largest turbocharger distributor. Miller frequently speaks publicly on the subject of turbochargers and has published numerous articles in trade publications. Jay is also co-host on the tech-talk show that is webcast from the archives at

Table of Contents

Preface 6

Introduction to New Edition 8

Chapter 1 The Making of a Habu 10

Chapter 2 Mission Planning 22

Chapter 3 Preflight Activities 30

Chapter 4 Aircraft Preflight 44

Chapter 5 Cockpit Left Console Preflight 54

Chapter 6 Instrument Panel Preflight 58

Chapter 7 Cockpit Right Console Preflight 72

Chapter 8 Starting Engines 78

Chapter 9 Before Taxiing 86

Chapter 10 Taxiing and Before Takeoff 92

Chapter 11 Takeoff and Climb 98

Chapter 12 KC-135Q and "Cold" Tanker Air Rendezvous 104

Chapter 13 Acceleration to Mach 3+ 114

Chapter 14 Cruising at Mach 3+: The "Hot" Leg 120

Chapter 15 Decel and "Hot" Tanker Air Rendezvous 148

Chapter 16 Recovery 152

Chapter 17 Debriefings 162

Chapter 18 The Blackbird's Retirement 166

Epilogue 174

Acknowledgments 175


A Black Shield Memorandum 176

B Yom Kippur Memorandum 177

C Cuba Oversight Memorandum 177

D SR-71 Pilot's Checklist 178

E Pilot's Computer Flight Plan of "Becky" 215

F Training Sortie Map of "Becky" 217

G List of Acronyms 218

Index 220

Customer Reviews