Memorial Day: The Blackbird and You – Warning Signs
Posted by SteveB on May 24, 2009
By Alan Caruba
It’s about one of the most remarkable airplanes ever produced by this nation, a spy plane that kept an eye on a lot of evil people in bad places. It was known as the Blackbird and was built to replace the U-2 in which Gary Powers was shot down over Soviet Russia in 1960.
It was built to fly three miles higher and a heck of a lot faster, but it was also built to be able to take a photo of the license plate on Nikita Khrushchev’s car or Fidel Castro lighting a cigar.
They only made forty of these remarkable airplanes. Only 93 pilots would ever fly the aircraft throughout the quarter century it served during the Cold War.
Affectionately the crew called it the “sled”. In 1986, the Blackbird flew over Libya when its dictator challenged the United States and it accelerated away from two missiles fired at it so fast the pilot and fellow crew member crossed the Mediterranean Sea and were just south of Sicily in mere moments. They had to turn around to be refueled over Gibraltar.
The last of the Blackbirds sits in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. In its last trip there, the Blackbird broke four speed records from Los Angeles to its final place of honor.
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