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SR71 - Flying a Secret Mission

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Mr Jin Yu.

A unique insight into the history, development and flying of the SR-71 from a distinguished SR-71 Blackbird Pilot.

The world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft was conceived as early as 1958 by the renowned aircraft engineer, Kelly Johnson. The gigantic leap in technology he and his engineers had to overcome at the Lockheed “Skunk Works” was phenomenal. Built in total secrecy, the first Blackbird flew on April 26, 1962. The Blackbird’s only purpose was to gather highly classified intelligence on hostile countries around the world. Flying at Mach 3+ speeds and cruising at over 85,000 feet, the SR-71 could survey over 100,000 square miles every hour, gathering millions of bits of intelligence. When cruising at over 2,200 mph, with skin friction temperatures reaching 600 degrees F., the SR-71 performed at its very best.

From 1967 to 1990, the SR-71 served seven U.S. Presidents, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon and other government agencies. It provided them with the necessary intelligence to make crucial political and military decisions during the Cold War era.

Col. Graham’s presentation is tailored to the audience and includes an entertaining presentation and a short video honoring the legendary Lockheed “Skunk Works” aircraft engineer, Kelly Johnson. This presentation links the world of engineering with aviation and gives the audience a much deeper appreciation of just how far “outside the box” Kelly Johnson had to think. The Q&A session at the end of this program gives the audience an opportunity to ask questions about the once highly classified program. Col. Graham will also have his four SR-71 books he has authored for those who want to purchase autographed copies.

This talk is part of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Cambridge Branch series.

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