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Thirty-five years ago this month, the legendary USAF/Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird triple-sonic aircraft established an official world speed record as it  traversed the 5,446.87 statute miles between London and Los Angeles in 3 hours 47 minutes and 39 seconds.   Average speed was 1,435.59 mph.

The all-USAF crew of Captain Harold B. Adams (Pilot) and Major William C. Machorek (RSO) flew the historic mission in aircraft S/N 61-17972 on Friday, 13 September 1974.  In their rapid east-to-west journey, the record-setting aircraft and its crew crossed 7 separate time zones.

To gain an added appreciation for the Blackbird’s  impressive performance, one might consider the following.   The Earth rotates through an arc distance of a little over 1,000 miles in one hour.  The Blackbird averaged over 1,400 miles arc distance in one hour.  In that sense, the aircraft out-raced the sun as it flew more than one-fifth the total distance around the globe.

Fittingly, the crew of Adams and Machorek received the FAI’s prestigous De La Vaulx medal in honor of their London-to-Los Angeles world speed record which stands to this very day.

Posted in Aerospace, History

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