Good morning everyone.
Good news! Due to generosity of one our commenters, a Mr. Will Campbell, we have a large number of new SR-71 photographs to admire, most of which are hires.
Today we’re going to take a detailed look at the cockpit of SR-71 #977 which crashed on takeoff on October 10, 1968.
Both pilot and RSO escaped harm, but in separate ways. Don Person recalls: “…. I was now reassigned to quality control as an inspector. My task that morning was to observe the launch of 977. [The] aircraft had just taken the active runway and was in take-off roll when we observed the left brake come apart and pieces punctured the inner wing fuel cells. A massive fire started; drag chutes were deployed and immediately burnt up. 977 proceded down the runway, all tires now flat. As 977 was approaching the end of the runway the RSO [Maj. James Kogler] ejected; arrestment cable caught the intake lips as the tires were flat and too low to catch the landing gear trunnions. As all this was happening the launch crew including myself were screaming down the taxiway following the aircraft. We arrived several minutes after it stopped and assisted the pilot [Maj. Abe Kardong] away from the crash area….”
The aircraft was a total loss and was the fourth SR-71 to be lost up until that point. The cockpit was salvaged and restored and is on display at Boeing Field’s Museum of Flight as seen below.
Forward Left Console
Will says, “Cockpit of 977. I’m 6 foot 1 for perspective. Pre-flight checks start on the left side (that you are seeing) from the back and work forward, across the main panel and end at the back of the right side.”
Forward Left Side Panel
The rear cockpit wasn’t open to the public at the time of Will’s visit, but here is a gallery of pictures of the forward and rear cockpits of SR-71 #976 from the SR-71 Online website:
These are the diagrams for the rear cockpit: