22 December 2006

Happy birthday, Blackbird!

Today, December 22, is the 42nd birthday of the Blackbird:

Blackbird, or SR-71 according to its military designation, is definitely one of the highest peaks of human inventiveness and engineering genius that will be hard to beat even in the future.

Blackbird is a plane that was created about ten or fifteen years before its time and remained the world's fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its long and proud career.

Blackbird is a plane that never shot at anyone in anger and never dropped a bomb. Its purpose was to bring home vital intelligence during some of the worst periods of the Cold War, and Blackbird with its pilots performed like a dream. On the other hand it was shot at frequently, but have never been hit - so high and so fast it was that it was able to outrun any missile launched at it.

While the Lockheed's Skunk Works team has performed fantastically, the final touch in the creation of the best reconnaissance plane ever was added by this superb act of irony:

The airframe was made of titanium obtained from the USSR during the height of the Cold War. Lockheed used all possible guises to prevent the Soviet government from knowing what the titanium was to be used for.
Unbelievable and beautiful chutzpa!

Happy birthday, Blackbird, and may your heirs be worthy of your proud legacy!