Skip to comments.Need for Speed: Pilot Recalls Record-Setting Supersonic Flight
Posted on 08/04/2014 2:02:47 PM PDT by Carbonsteel
ARLINGTON, Va. On a September day in 1974, Capt. Harold "Buck" Adams set the world speed record in the U.S. military's SR-71 Blackbird aircraft. At the controls of the twin-engine supersonic plane, Adams flew from London to Los Angeles in a blistering 3 hours, 47 minutes and 39 seconds.
The Cold War was in full swing, and "there was a need for an airplane that could penetrate Soviet airspace with impunity," Adams, a retired brigadier general for the U.S. Air Force, told an audience July 18 here at a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) expo showcasing the Pentagon's latest electronic technologies. "It was a technology marvel," Adams said.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
What happened? The military industrial complex got greedy. They get awarded contracts for aircraft and weapons concepts that they require 20 years of fat paychecks in order to produce a flawed product.
And then there was Aurora
Nah, military got greedy.
Every weapon systems has to be ultra-high tech electronics, “integrated”, camouflaged, high speed, low altitude, deep-diving, smart bulleted, uni-sex, VTOL, etc. etc.
apparently, we can no longer rely on quantity to win a war, so we have to swing to the other side - the ultimate, bad-ass weapons, which, of course, the taxpayer can no longer afford, or can only afford a dwindling few.
Love the blackbird.
What a great platform.
Zoom Zoom Zoom
At the controls of the twin-engine supersonic plane, Adams flew from London to Los Angeles in a blistering 3 hours, 47 minutes and 39 seconds.
I wonder if he flew a polar route, because going west to east is usually faster due to winds.
They dumped their slide-rules.
Also the only jet to use two Buick Wildcat car engines for the start-cart.
Has Aurora been proven to exist or is it still rumor?
And then there was Aurora
Doughnuts on a rope.
The constituents demand $900 hammers so that the ordnance men don’t blow half the ship up using an iron hammer to tap out a fuse.
Defense contractors work within the law.
We test the crap out of it to ensure Johnny does not get killed.
The military industrial complex got greedy.
The complex was corrupt long before the 1960’s due to politics.
Strides in aeronautics have slowed due to physics. These days we make better advancements in avionics and materials that aren’t as easily seen.
An often-told SR-71 pilot’s story:
“One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. Ninety knots, ATC replied.
A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. One-twenty on the ground, was the reply.
To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was. Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground, ATC responded.
The situation was too ripe...
I heard the click of Walters mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace.
In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground. We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.
“3 hours, 47 minutes and 39 seconds.”
Wonder what he could have done it in. You can bet that wasn’t max.
One of my favorites was ol Chuck Yeager.
He had a cockpit fire, in a test plane, he calmly radioed it in, and said It was not a real issue, but the smoke in the cockpit was obscuring the view of Mt Baldy that we all love so well....
The SR-71 was a product of the genius of Kelly Johnson and his “Skunk Works”. It was designed in pretty much in the pre-computer days with slide rules and solid engineering. Ditto for the Saturn V moon rocket.
Jimmy Carter, et. al.
Ditto that on Saturn V. As noted long ago that Saturn V was a beast, generating 160,000,000 horsepower at lift-off. The turbo pumps feeding those 1st stage F1s were rated at 55,000 horsepower. They fed 15 tons of propellants per second to the five F1 engines, 30,000 pounds per second. They provided seven and one half million pounds of thrust. They got it going about 5,000 mph before the second stage J-2s kicked in. It just seems so incredible that we put twelve men on the moon and they all came home. Staggering!
Buck Adams. I haven’t thought about him for years. He was the 28th BMW commander when I was assigned to the 44th SMW at Ellsworth.
He was kind of obnoxious and not well liked even by some within his wing. He and the SMW commander both made BG on the same board and they didn’t like each other. The SMW commander pinned on a bit before him and was the host wing commander so his allocation of funds and projects didn’t always make Adams happy.
I’m sure the real top speed of the aircraft is still top secret decades later. Kind of the like maximum running depth of a Virginia class sub is 800 ft on Wikipedia, but everyone knows that’s baloney.
Fly you bastard! Fly!
The shortest route from London to Los Angeles goes over southern Greenland, Hudson’s Bay, and then southwest across the western United States (5456 mi) - Average speed: 1438 mph.
“The strides in man flight in the 50’s and 60’s were astounding!
We basically ran into the boundary of the materials thermodynamics envelope for atmospheric aircraft which also intersects with the economics envelope. Consequently attention turned to making aircraft stealthier rather than faster.
Kelly Johnson’s 14 Rules and Practices:
1. The Skunk Works manager must be delegated practically complete control of his program in all aspects. He should report to a division president or higher.
2. Strong but small project offices must be provided both by the military and industry.
3. The number of people having any connection with the project must be restricted in an almost vicious manner. Use a small number of good people (10% to 25% compared to the so-called normal systems).
4. A very simple drawing and drawing release system with great flexibility for making changes must be provided.
5. There must be a minimum number of reports required, but important work must be recorded thoroughly.
6. There must be a monthly cost review covering not only what has been spent and committed but also projected costs to the conclusion of the program.
7. The contractor must be delegated and must assume more than normal responsibility to get good vendor bids for subcontract on the project. Commercial bid procedures are very often better than military ones.
8. The inspection system as currently used by the Skunk Works, which has been approved by both the Air Force and Navy, meets the intent of existing military requirements and should be used on new projects. Push more basic inspection responsibility back to subcontractors and vendors. Don’t duplicate so much inspection.
9. The contractor must be delegated the authority to test his final product in flight. He can and must test it in the initial stages. If he doesn’t, he rapidly loses his competency to design other vehicles.
10. The specifications applying to the hardware must be agreed to well in advance of contracting. The Skunk Works practice of having a specification section stating clearly which important military specification items will not knowingly be complied with and reasons therefore is highly recommended.
11. Funding a program must be timely so that the contractor doesn’t have to keep running to the bank to support government projects.
12. There must be mutual trust between the military project organization and the contractor, the very close cooperation and liaison on a day-to-day basis. This cuts down misunderstanding and correspondence to an absolute minimum.
13. Access by outsiders to the project and its personnel must be strictly controlled by appropriate security measures.
14. Because only a few people will be used in engineering and most other areas, ways must be provided to reward good performance by pay not based on the number of personnel supervised.
And now the same amount of money spent for all 12 years for Apollo, adjusted for inflation, gets us less than 70 days of welfare payments.
Very cool! Some here think this stuff if just a larf, anyone can do it on a penny.
Physics is a bitch, and a blessing.
Ping for later reading.
He wod have flown a great circle route, which is a straight line on a globe. London to LA wouldn’t be polar,but it would go a bit over Greenland
The afore mentioned story about the ATC ground speed check is from a book called “Sled Driver” by Brian Shul. Walter was his recon officer.
Anyway, in the book, or the parts I’ve read, he mentions going into Lybia, I’m assuming during the Regan years, and getting painted by radar. Then Walt calls out multiple launch warnings. Well, being the pilot of the fastest air breather ever, he did what any pilot would do in an otherwise totally defenseless bird: he pushed the throttles all the way up to their stops and hauled ass outta there. He mentions seeing “scary MACH numbers”, faster than his bird has ever flown. And no, he didn’t mention the exact numbers.
He also mentioned he left them there until the adrenaline wash subsided, and his training took over and eased her back, explaining that The Bird would literally go as fat as she could until she tore herself apart.
So yea, I wonder if that record was as fast as she could do it, or if they made it just fast enough for the record books, and to impress certain governments, but still had plenty left in the tank, so to speak.
Above 60,000 feet there are no winds.
Aero Space Age Inferno...
fter the Farnborough show came to a close, 972 was transferred to RAF Mildenhall, where the ground crews made final preparations for its flight back to the States. On the morning of September 13, the weather over Britain was perfect, and takeoff was right on time. As was routine for any Blackbird mission, the crew took off with a light load of fuel and then met up with the first tanker off the northeast tip of the country.
"Once we left Mildenhall we flew southeast, turned and came across London going northeast at the timing gate [the beginning of the official time recorded for the speed record]," recalled Adams. "The first 53 minutes of the mission were all subsonic because we flew up off the coast and refueled with three tankers, and then accelerated to altitude. We could not go supersonic over England.
"If we had taken off from Mildenhall, picked up a tanker and then moved up to altitude and hit our max speed immediately and gone across the timing gate at Mach 3-plus over London, we could have cut our flight time by 48 minutes," Adams said. "We crossed the Atlantic Ocean at Mach 3.2, which equates to about 2,200 mph. We did the Great Circle route from the UK, crossed the North American coast over Newfoundland and descended from 80,000 feet to 25,000 feet to meet up with three more tankers, one of which was a spare. We filled our tank and then began accelerating back up to our optimum altitude. We began to encounter some very strong headwinds100 knotsin the refueling track, which chewed up some valuable time, so I started the acceleration sooner than planned to reduce the effect of the headwind."
The streaking Blackbird entered the United States just south of the Great Lakes. Adams said he and Machorek had agreed to radio General Russell Dougherty, commander of the Strategic Air Command, as they passed over the Midwest. When they were near SAC's command post in Omaha, Neb., they gave him a call and updated him on their expected arrival time in Los Angeles.
"At that time, we had every intention of setting a world speed record," Adams explained. "As we approached California, we started to decelerate so we would be subsonic by the time we got to the mountain range on the east side of Los Angeles. We then went all the way to the coast, which was several minutes of flight to LAX because they had a radar timing gate there. We flew through it, and then we knew we had completed the mission successfully and they had confirmed the time."
The total time for the record flight was 3 hours, 47 minutes and 39 seconds. Adams and Machorek had covered nearly 5,447 miles at an average speed of 1,435.59 mph.
"We turned around and headed back over the mountains out to the desert," continued Adams, "and met up with the tanker, where we picked up 30,000 pounds of fuel. Then we flew up to Beale AFB, where we did a couple of flyovers and landed. Needless to say, the press was there, along with a sizable crowd."