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Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird facts for kids

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Lockheed SR-71
Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.jpg
SR-71 Above Sierra Nevada (California/USA)
Role High altitude observer
Manufacturer Lockheed
First flight 30 April 1962
Status Retired
Primary user USA
Number built 50

The SR-71 Blackbird is a supersonic reconnaissance aircraft. It was built by Lockheed's "Skunk Works" in the 1960s for the United States Air Force (USAF).


The Blackbird was designed to fly at more than Mach 3 – three times the speed of sound. This meant it would become very hot during flight. To help with this, most of the aircraft was made of titanium. Radar absorbing material was also used to make the aircraft more difficult to detect.

SR-71 Blackbird used a special fuel called JP-7. Before the flight, the fuel tanks used to leak. This is because at ground altitude the tolerances (distance between parts of the fuel tank) were larger than at the plane's cruising altitude. Once in the air, because of the speed and air resistance, the parts became very hot. Because of this heat, the distance between the parts shrank stopping the loss of fuel.

The aircraft also had cameras and radars fitted to take photographs of targets.


The first Blackbird flight happened on 22 December 1964 in Palmdale, California. In January 1966, the first aircraft entered service with the USAF. No aircraft were lost in war but one crashed in an accident in 1969. Only 32 aircraft were built. Its final flight was on 6 March 1990, Blackbird S/N 61-7972. The SR-71 program was retired from service in 1998.


The aircraft flew at an altitude of over 80,000 feet (24,000 m) and at speeds over 2,190 miles per hour (3,520 km/h). It held the world record for the jet-powered flight, flying at Mach 3.2. The record was broken in March 2004 by NASA's X-43A aircraft.


The SR-71 Blackbird had two crew members. It could carry 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) of equipment.

Technical data (SR-71A)

Data Units
Years of production 1960-1978
Manufacturer Lockheed
Constructor: Kelly Johnson
Wingspan 16,94 m
Length 32,74 m
Hight 5,64 m
Wing area 167,22 m²
Weight (empty) 27.216 kg
Max takeoff weight 77.110 kg
Crew 2
Speed 3220 km/h
Service ceiling 25.900 m
Range 4.800km
Powerplant 2x Pratt & Whitney J58
Power 2x 14.750 kp

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