Die Hard and Top Gun have nothing on reality

S Aufrecht

So they made 47 Blackbirds, including variations and trainers and such. Twenty were lost, thusly: Flew into clouds, ran out of gas, controls wired wrong, unknown, landing accident, caught fire, controls locked up, hit a drone, tires blew up while testing anti-skid, disintegrated, mysterious explosion, tires blew up, lost control, lights went out, stalled, flew into clouds, hit a fuel tanker, engine blew up, wheels failed, landed too fast w/o parachute.

Highlights:

A-12 (60-6939 / 133) … lost on approach to Groom Lake on 9 July 1964 following a Mach 3 check flight. … Lockheed test pilot Bill Park was forced to eject at an altitude of 200 feet in a 45 degree bank angle! …

M-21 (60-6941 / 135) … Both made safe ejections, but Ray Torick opened his helmet visor by mistake and his suit filled up with water which caused him to drown.

SR-71A (61-7950 / 2001) The prototype SR-71 was lost on 10 January 1967 at Edwards during an anti-skid braking system evaluation. The main undercarriage tires blew out and the resulting fire in the magnesium wheels spread to the rest of the aircraft as it ran off the end of the runway. Lockheed test pilot Art Peterson survived.

SR-71A (61-7954 / 2005) This aircraft crashed on 11 April 1969 under conditions similar to 61-7950. New aluminum wheels and stronger tires with a beefed up compound were retrofitted to all SR-71s because of the crash.

SR-71A (61-7969 / 2020) … initiated a normal full power climb. Stretching before him was a solid bank of cloud containing heavy thunderstorm activity which reached above 45,000 feet. Heavy with fuel, the aircraft was unable to maintain a high rate of climb and as it entered turbulence both engines flamed out. The RPM dropped to a level too low for restarting the engines. Lawson and RSO, Maj. Gilbert Martinez ejected safely after the aircraft stalled.

SR-71A (61-7974 / 2025) … This aircraft was lost on 21 April 1989 over the South China Sea and is the last loss of any Blackbird. Pilot Maj. Daniel E. House said the left engine blew up and shrapnel from it hit the right-side hydraulic lines, causing a loss of flight controls. House and RSO Capt. Blair L. Bozek ejected and came down safely in the ocean. They had been able to broadcast their position before abandoning the Blackbird, and rescue forces were immediately on the way. However, the crew was rescued by native fisherman.

SR-71A (61-7952 / 2003) This aircraft disintegrated on 25 January 1966 during a high-speed, high-altitude test flight … Lockheed test pilot Bill Weaver survived although his ejection seat never left the plane! Reconnaissance System Officer (RSO) Jim Zwayer died in a high-G bailout.

A-12, M-21, YF-21 Losses Listing

www.sr-71.org 404 Not Found (linkrot)