Photo Essay: SR-71 Blackbird

November 18, 2010 —The first craft you encounter upon entering the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA (see the full O.T.I.S. article on the museum here), is the amazing SR-71 Blackbird, the superfast stealth reconnasiance plane that found its niche during our coldest of wars and became the symbol of everything fascinating about the progress of military science to those growing up during the heyday of this bird. Oh, and it fueled rampant rumors of alien technology implementation gleaned from the Roswell incident. Udvar-Hazy doesn’t mention anything about that latter on the exhibit placard, though.

The sleek black piece of airborne spyware still looks futuristic even though the concept was developed half a century ago. According to Wikipedia, there are only 20 of them left, and you can walk all the way around the Udvar-Hazy Blackbird, seeing it up close like no radar has ever been able to do.

This particular flight piece was active for 25 years before being flown across the country to retire at the museum, setting an air speed record while doing so. I then imagine the pilot jumping out, flipping the keys to the nearest Smithsonian curator, grabbing a hot girl from the press corps, and heading off into the sunset on a motorcycle while Poison’s Nuthin’ but a Good Time played from some invisible audio source. My imagination is tainted by every cheesy movie I’ve ever watched.

Udvar-Hazy was also a filming location for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,
and the SR-71 took on a starring role as the character Jetfire.
The museum commemorates the dubitable honor with this exhibit.