The SR-71 Blackbird was the world's fastest and highest flying jet aircraft. For over 23 years, the SR-71s gathered highly classified intelligence around the world for the President of the United States, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon and other governmental agencies, allowing them to make crucial political and military decisions during the Cold War.
At Mach 3+ cruising speed, the SR-71's leading edges heat up to over 600 degrees F, where the outside air temperature is already at a -60 degree F. In September 1975 the SR-71 set a world speed record from New York City to London in one hour, 55 minutes. When the SR-71 was delivered to the National Air & Space Museum in 1990, it set a Coast-to-Coast record, flying from Los Angeles, California to Washington, D.C., in 64 minutes, 20 seconds.
Colonel Richard GRAHAM, USAF, (Ret.) - Former SR-71 and U-2 pilot