There are escapes, lucky escapes and this …..
Flying an SR-71 Blackbird must have been one of the more extreme forms of aviation at the best of times.
Surviving the breakup up of one at Mach 3.18 and 78,800 feet is unlikely beyond all measure, but not impossible, as this story describes.
The severity of this incident is captured many times over in this story. Can you even imagine thinking:
I had no idea how this could have happened; I hadn’t initiated an ejection.
And the scale of the navigational issues are extreme too:
Before the breakup, we’d started a turn in the New Mexico-Colorado-Oklahoma-Texas border region. The SR-71 had a turning radius of about 100 miles at that speed and altitude, so I wasn’t even sure what state we were going to land in.
Above all, for me, the matter-of-fact way that stories like this are told is testament to the professionalism of these pilots.
[In fact this is such an amazing story that the full account will be published tomorrow, Ed.]
By John Lewis