Step Inside the SR-71 Blackbird’s Cockpit With a Veteran Pilot

Nov 24, 2017

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The SR-71 Blackbird is an icon of the Cold War. The supersonic spyplane was seen as an aircraft that the Soviets couldn’t match — a symbol of American prowess.

It’s also an AvGeek’s dream — the SR-71 has a huge amount of extra equipment that isn’t found on a normal passenger jet. The plane, first introduced into service in 1966, would fly at 80,000 feet and supersonic speeds to avoid detection by the enemy.

The Warzone unearthed some old videos of veteran Blackbird pilot Richard Graham giving an in-depth tour of the spy plane’s dual cockpits. Filmed by by aviation videographer Erik Johnston, Graham goes into extensive detail about the hundreds of controls, dials, gauges, switches and screens that he had access to as the pilot.

About 14 minutes into the video, Graham shifts back to where the surveillance equipment is located, which is actually a completely separate area from the forward cockpit. Interestingly enough, the two cockpits weren’t connected, so Graham and his navigator had to receive physicals before every flight to ensure they had a clean bill of health — if one of them had problems, neither would have full control of the aircraft.

Graham goes into even more detail about the massive J-58 engines built by Pratt & Whitney:

And if you really want to go deep, the pilot gives an hour-long interview reciting the aircraft’s history and some of his experiences at the helm of the legendary aircraft.

H/T: The Warzone

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