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SR-71 My introduction

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In a land far far away I served a 37 month tour of duty as a Senior Radar Maintenance Supervisor in The US Army. One night I was summoned to the operations room with a complaint that the radar system I was monitoring was giving "False returns". I trotted down the hall and asked the operators what was worth getting me up in the middle of the night. I was immediately shown a radar "Track", on an 1800+ knot aircraft inbound. A very quick system check showed the system was working normally. I immediately contacted the MRTS (Master Radar Tracking System) officer of the day who informed me there were NO aircraft in the area I reported, and to not even bother logging the anomaly. Of course the local Japanese newspaper had a picture of an SR-71 on the front cover the next day.
This happened on Okinawa in 1967. On the rare occasions when a "Habu" mission was discovered ahead of time, we drove down on the beach at the end of the main runway at Kadena AFB and watched the monster take off. A great thundering aircraft with fuel streaming from the fuel tanks, and a near vertical takeoff at wheels up. One of the truly amazing things I saw in my short military career. Of course there was the B-52 that blew up on takeoff, but that is another tale for another time.

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  1. xxmikexx's Avatar

    I saw the Y-12, the SR-71 prototype, on approach to McGuire AFB in NJ. As I recall it had just completed a publicized coast-to-coast record setting run.

    Re B-52s, I had a second cousin who was a pilot in the first squadron to receive B-52s. Regrettably he was killed in the first of three B-52 runaway elevator trim takeoff accidents.
  2. Habu1967's Avatar
    B-52s taking off from Kadena AFB on Okinawa provided us with a fair amount of entertainment. Because of the bomb loads the BUFs took off with just enough fuel load to get to a tanker. Parking on then Highway 1 we could watch the takeoffs on high temperature days and make wagers as to how far they would clear the fences at the end of the runways. (We Army types are easily amused) A BUF driver in a off base tavern one night swore they had footprints on the panel to brace themselves pulling back on the yoke. Unfortunately we too had a 52 have a massive engine failure near lift off, eventually resulting in a large explosion. Only some of the crew survived and parts were found in areas 1/4 mile from the scene.
  3. Ranie Smith's Avatar
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