Edwards AFB in Kern County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
The SR-71 Blackbird served NASA as a high-speed, high-altitude research aircraft capable of attaining altitudes above 85,000 feet with a cruising speed up to Mach 3.32 (2,193 mph). To enable it to withstand high temperatures generated by aerodynamic heating, the airplane was built primarily from titanium alloys, with special composite materials on the edges of the wings, the fuselage, and other areas to reduce radar cross-section.
Built in 1967, this airplane, SR-71A (AF 61-7980/NASA 844), was the final Blackbird built and the last to fly. Air Force crews flew it on operational reconnaissance missions over Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
After being transferred to NASA in 1990, it carried scientific experiments in support of spacecraft and aircraft development, astronomy, environmental monitoring, and sonic boom research. By its final flight, on October 9, 1999, the aircraft had completed 734 flights – 678 for the Air Force and 56 in NASA research missions – and accumulated 2,353.6 flight hours.
J58 Engine The SR-71 was powered by two Pratt & Whitney
Each engine provided 32,500 pounds of thrust. A variable geometry inlet diffuser and a complex bleed bypass system allowed for high efficiency in the Mach 2.0-3.2 flight regime. By controlling the location of the shockwave inside the inlet and allowing air to bypass the turbine section and go directly to the afterburner, the J58 could be operated as turbo-ramjet. During cruise, parts of the engine reached temperatures as high as 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Erected by NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center.
Location. 34° 57.142′ N, 117° 53.333′ W. Marker is in Edwards AFB, California, in Kern County. Marker is at the intersection of Lilly Avenue and Walker Avenue, on the left when traveling south on Lilly Avenue. Located in front the Armstrong Flight Research Center Visitors Control Building. Although the base is closed to the general public, they do have monthly tours depending on the Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4800 Lilly Avenue, Edwards CA 93523, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. X-29 (within shouting distance of this marker); Lockheed F-104 (within shouting distance of this marker); NF-15B (within shouting distance of this marker); F-8 DFBW (within shouting distance of this marker); F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire Aircraft (within shouting distance of this marker); F-8 Supercritical Wing Aircraft (within shouting distance of this marker); HL-10 (within shouting distance of this marker); HiMAT (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Edwards AFB.
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Credits. This page was last revised on September 24, 2019. This page originally submitted on August 11, 2018, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. This page has been viewed 191 times since then and 42 times this year. Last updated on January 6, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on August 11, 2018, by Denise Boose of Tehachapi, California. 7. submitted on September 22, 2019, by Craig Baker of Sylmar, California. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.