Flying The World’s Fastest Plane: Behind The Stick Of The SR-71





” The Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” is the fastest jet ever built, a machine so far ahead of its time even its own pilots thought it looked more like a spaceship than an airplane. It is an engineering marvel, powered by innovative engines that operated most efficiently at Mach 3.2, its typical cruising speed. From 1966 to 1998, it operated in secrecy, flown only by a handful of the Air Force’s most elite pilots. Rick McCrary was one of them.

  SH: How did you end up flying that thing?

  RM: Well, I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of luck involved. I entered the Air Force in 1970, and was accepted for pilot training. After I completed that, I was a pilot instructor for about five years in the T-38, the supersonic trainer the Air Force still uses to this day. Subsequent to that I flew the F/B-11, the Aardvark, up at Pease AFB, New Hampshire. Then I was actually on nuke alert up there when I got a phone call from a fella I flew T-38s with who asked if I was interested in “a new position.” I was due to rotate, so I said sure.

  I was anticipating a desk job, which is just part of the rotation cycle as an Air Force officer. I can’t say I was looking forward to it. He said that he’d been out with the SR-71 program, and that they were looking for a pilot. Of course, that was an easy answer. They said, “Well, why don’t you come out and have a look,” so when I got off alert that tour I flew out to Sacramento and drove up to Beale AFB to meet everyone.”


Lots more of the interview and pictures here . Enjoy