Airborne Awesomosity

Flight Plan

Photo Mar 07, 10 05 00 AM

We love the SR-71 here at Atomic Toasters Galactic Command. As well we should. It’s damn sexy. Twenty three years ago yesterday, the SR-71 was first retired from the US Air Force, before pulling a Michael Jordan. It had one last record-setting flight.

Pilot-RSO_last_flight_SR-71

On March 6, 1990, S/N 61-7972 was flown by Lt. Col. Raymond “Ed” E. Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph “JT” T. Vida from its birthplace at Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA to it’s retirement home at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Museum. On that flight, they set four speed records:

1. LA to Washington, DC (2,299.7 miles) in 64 minutes 20 seconds for an average speed of 2,144.8 mph.
2. West Coast to East Coast (2,404 miles) in 67 minutes 54 seconds for an average speed of 2,124.5 mph.
3. Kansas City, MO to Washington, DC (942 miles) in 25 minutes 59 seconds for an average speed of 2,176 mph.
4. St. Louis, MO to Cincinnati, OH (311.4 miles) in 8 minutes 32 seconds for an average speed of 2,189.9 mph.

So, here’s the critical question: Is there seriously a tracked speed record for St. Louis to Cincinnati?

[Image Credits: Public Domain, Konstance E. Keever]

  • Number_Six

    I may wrong but I believe it's almost exactly 500km from St Louis to WKRP in Cincinnati, and international speed records are done in chunks of 500 kilometres.
    <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hR3KsGgczF4/UKEFdz1_psI/AAAAAAAAA_o/dYMM4irdP-s/s1600/1-wkrp.jpg&quot; />

    • Deartháir

      Baby, if you've ever wondered…

    • You're a regular Les Nessman.

  • The Professor

    I've been trying, but I can't think of a good reason to hurry to Cincinnati. Especially from St. Louie.

    • I can … "from St. Louie".

  • texlenin

    BOOOOOOGGGGGEEEERRR!!!!!!

    • Wolfie

      Dr. Fever is that you?

      • texlenin

        That's right, Cats and Kittens, The Doctor is IN!!!

        • CaptianNemo2001

          Doctor who? I didn't hear the name.

          • texlenin

            Doctor Johnnie Fever's the name; Rock'n'Roll's my game!

  • Wolfie

    7 comments and not one has a thing to do with the title subject.
    Balls to the wall cross country last time run of the baddest aircraft ever built.
    So that Jennifer had great boobs ,they married Burt.

    • The Professor

      Ah, you must be new here. Yes, quite often the majority of the comments here have nothing to do with the supposed subject of the post. I believe it reflects the attention span of our commentariat.
      Also quite common, in fact far too common, are long barrages of poorly crafted puns which may or may not reflect upon the subject at hand. This also reflects upon the attention span of our commentariat.
      For all of these things, I apologize, and I hope you stick around long enough to witness some of the truly informational exchanges in comments that do happen on occasion.

      • Heh, Wolfie said "boobs."

        • The Professor

          And he wasn't talking about the staff or commenters either.

          • Wolfie

            Truly Informational and somewhat inspirational.

          • texlenin

            Crystals of brilliance surrounded by mountains of schlock.
            That's us! 🙂

          • Wolfie

            Do you have a picture of that?

          • CaptianNemo2001

            Yah its in the Fantasy file just ahead of the elf and fairy photos.

          • Wolfie

            No need to reveal your file contents .

          • CaptianNemo2001

            Not my files. I just receive, archive and retrieve them. I.E. paper pusher.

          • texlenin

            Damn straight. Not about to show a stranger my schlock. 0_o

  • Will Campbell

    The flight of 972 wasn't the only SR-71 flight that day. 979 was flown from Beale to Lackland as well. During the planning of 972s flight it was figured they could push the J58s and complete the flight in about 45 minutes or so. The Pratt and Whitney engine guys gave it the go-ahead but stated the engine would be toast in doing so (They would be right at the 427 degree C max inlet temp redline if not over it for short periods of time.) The Air Force got wind of this and had kittens. They nearly canceled the flight simply because they didn't want the SR-71 gaining any more support what so ever. The flight happened because several senators stepped in (who were SR-71 supporters) and argued that it should happen, but the pilots were told to make it more of a routine flight.

    Lets stop and think about this, 45 ish minutes vs 68 minutes. Lets round the difference to 20 minutes to be easy. How fast was the ground speed had they been able to push it? Sure they set a record, but its a lame record because they were limited by political b.s not by how fast the bird could actually go. I say pull 972 out, fuel it up (yeah I know there isn't any JP7) get a couple of the pilots back, stick them in the sim, and then really go for the record. Oh yeah, while they have the bird flyable go prove just how awesome the platform is at doing its intended task, a task that still can't be done better by anything else.

    • texlenin

      What would that projected balls-out Mach number be?

      • Will Campbell

        I honestly don't know. I do know that at least one pilot had this to say on a mission over Libya. "The TDI (triple display indicator) now shows us Mach numbers not only new to our experience but flat out scary" Incidentally, he mentioned passing Mach 3.5 as they crossed 80,000 feet, much earlier in the flight. I can only guess they were somewhere in the realm of Mach 4 (clearly the listed max speed of Mach 3.2 is inaccurate at best.)

        That said, if we take 761 mph x4 (Mach 4) times call it .75 hr (45 min) we end up with a distance of 2283 miles. Considering LA to Washington is 2299 miles, It sounds to me like the possible max speed is somewhere around Mach 4. Double check my math as its not my strong point. Based on the undisclosed speeds seen by the pilot of 960 that day over Libya, (Prior to this flight the fastest they had gone was Mach 3.45) I'd say Mach 4 was possible, especially if the CIT were at or below the 427 degrees C limit.

    • texlenin

      No JP-7? Throw a little powdered boron in the JP-8!

      • Will Campbell

        JP8 is normal jet fuel, far different from JP7.

    • CaptianNemo2001

      2. West Coast to East Coast (2,404 miles) in 67 minutes 54 seconds for an average speed of 2,124.5 mph.

      Simple math problem really. 67m*60s 54s = 4074s — 45m*60s = 2700s

      More math and we have a ratio of 1.508888 yada yada.
      Yet more math and we get ~3205.6344 mph which would put it at MACH ~4.77@80,000 Feet @ 45 degrees north in July.

      ~~MATH~~
      ~3205.6344MPH/60 to get MPM = 53.42724 MPM
      53.42724 MPM / 60 = 0.890454MPS
      0.890454MPS * 5280 to get it in feet = 4701.59712FPS
      4701.59712FPS/ 985 FPS(SOS@80k) = ~4.77 at 80,000 feet.
      Source: http://www.engineering.uiowa.edu/fluidslab/pdfs/t

      I think in the books the max speed is roughly 3.6-8 MACH at altitude. It became a temperature issue.

      • texlenin

        Mach 4.77!!! Yowsers!!! Ion or plasma sheath generators coulda helped with the
        friction heat issue.

        • CaptianNemo2001

          Plasma is freaking hot (typically) and so is ionized gas. I have made both in the sandblast chamber. Besides the number is the average speed. The plane would warp/melt under such speeds. In theory I have enough of a background that I could calc the temps on the front of the plane but I don't want to do the work… I got HW to do and I am not an engineering student so it would take 10x as long. It's all about being able to find all the right formulas and input data. Then it's some simple math equations.

          You should also know that the SR-71 showed up like a giant blob on the radar… It was not very stealthy just dammed fast and high flying and thus, able to put distance between A and B.

  • craigsu

    What's up with those top and bottom flight patterns? They look really erratic in places. Oh, wait…never mind.

    • Border patrol.

      • CaptianNemo2001

        Border patrol is borderline crazy…

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