1957, plans were drawn up for a high flying reconnaissance spy
plane, The CIA was the backer behind the project. They wanted
something that could reach anywhere in the world in a matter of
hours and have the photos lying on someone's desk by
The results was the SR-71 Blackbird or
Habu. It was capable of an altitude of 90,000 ft. and Mach
3.2+ speed, faster than a rifle bullet. In 1968, the first
SR-71s went into service at Kadena, AFB in Okinawa, Japan.
The SR-71s also operated out of two other bases bases: Beale Air
Force Base, California and Mindenthall, UK. Most of the missions
were flown out of Kadena.
The plane was tough to
land. Of the 32 Blackbirds built, 11 crashed on
landing. On the other hand, it was safe to fly. Over 1,000
attempts were made to shoot them down, but not a single plane
was lost to enemy action or mechanical problems. In 1968,
a presidential order required that all molds and tools used to
build the SR-71 be destroyed so that the plane could never be
built by anyone again. This also meant that spare parts could
not be made, so if there were any major problems, planes in
storage would have to be cannibalized. In 1990, the SR-71
fleet was decommissioned at Beale AFB. Five years later, three
of the planes were returned to service, but it cost $140 million
a year to keep them flying. The Air Force felt the money
could be better used, so the plane was taken out of
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