SR-71 Blackbird in flight US Public Domain
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SR-71 Blackbird: the fastest aircraft in history

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is the fastest and highest-flying jet aircraft in history. Duxford’s SR-71 Blackbird has flown higher than any other when it set the world record for sustained altitude flight in 1976, flying at 85,000 feet. The Blackbird was developed in the 1960s during the Cold War as a high-flying reconnaissance jet. It is still considered by many as the most advanced aircraft of its type, flying at three times the speed of sound, faster than any weapon that could be fired at it.

So why was the Blackbird grounded? Why were so few made? And what was it like to fly? We talk to curator Emily Charles and hear from two pilots who flew the Blackbird to learn all about this space-age icon.