What's your favourite plane?

Speshal

World Champion
Valued Member
Or if you are an Amerkin - "Airplane"

I thought long and hard about this one but as this section is called "Science, Technology and Space" there is only one that fits the bill IMHO and that is the.....................

Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird"

Honourable mention to Concord tho.


apologies for the dodgy music


and a little story.

Brian Shul, Retired SR-71 Pilot via Plane and Pilot Magazine​
As a former SR-71 pilot, and a professional keynote speaker, the question I’m most often asked is “How fast would that SR-71 fly?” I can be assured of hearing that question several times at any event I attend. It’s an interesting question, given the aircraft’s proclivity for speed, but there really isn’t one number to give, as the jet would always give you a little more speed if you wanted it to. It was common to see 35 miles a minute. Because we flew a programmed Mach number on most missions, and never wanted to harm the plane in any way, we never let it run out to any limits of temperature or speed. Thus, each SR-71 pilot had his own individual “high” speed that he saw at some point on some mission. I saw mine over Libya when Khadafy fired two missiles my way, and max power was in order. Let’s just say that the plane truly loved speed and effortlessly took us to Mach numbers we hadn’t previously seen.​

So it was with great surprise, when at the end of one of my presentations, someone asked, “what was the slowest you ever flew the Blackbird?” This was a first. After giving it some thought, I was reminded of a story that I had never shared before, and relayed the following.​
I was flying the SR-71 out of RAF Mildenhall, England , with my back-seater, Walt Watson; we were returning from a mission over Europe and the Iron Curtain when we received a radio transmission from home base. As we scooted across Denmark in three minutes, we learned that a small RAF base in the English countryside had requested an SR-71 fly-past. The air cadet commander there was a former Blackbird pilot, and thought it would be a motivating moment for the young lads to see the mighty SR-71 perform a low approach. No problem, we were happy to do it.​

After a quick aerial refueling over the North Sea , we proceeded to find the small airfield. Walter had a myriad of sophisticated navigation equipment in the back seat, and began to vector me toward the field. Descending to subsonic speeds, we found ourselves over a densely wooded area in a slight haze. Like most former WWII British airfields, the one we were looking for had a small tower and little surrounding infrastructure. Walter told me we were close and that I should be able to see the field, but I saw nothing.​

Nothing but trees as far as I could see in the haze. We got a little lower, and I pulled the throttles back from 325 knots we were at. With the gear up, anything under 275 was just uncomfortable. Walt said we were practically over the field—yet; there was nothing in my windscreen. I banked the jet and started a gentle circling maneuver in hopes of picking up anything that looked like a field. Meanwhile, below, the cadet commander had taken the cadets up on the catwalk of the tower in order to get a prime view of the fly-past. It was a quiet, still day with no wind and partial gray overcast.

Walter continued to give me indications that the field should be below us but in the overcast and haze, I couldn’t see it.
The longer we continued to peer out the window and circle, the slower we got. With our power back, the awaiting cadets heard nothing. I must have had good instructors in my flying career, as something told me I better cross-check the gauges. As I noticed the airspeed indicator slide below 160 knots, my heart stopped and my adrenalin-filled left hand pushed two throttles full forward. At this point we weren’t really flying, but were falling in a slight bank. Just at the moment that both afterburners lit with a thunderous roar of flame (and what a joyous feeling that was) the aircraft fell into full view of the shocked observers on the tower. Shattering the still quiet of that morning, they now had 107 feet of fire-breathing titanium in their face as the plane leveled and accelerated, in full burner, on the tower side of the infield, closer than expected, maintaining what could only be described as some sort of ultimate knife-edge pass.
Quickly reaching the field boundary, we proceeded back to Mildenhall without incident. We didn’t say a word for those next 14 minutes.

After landing, our commander greeted us, and we were both certain he was reaching for our wings. Instead, he heartily shook our hands and said the commander had told him it was the greatest SR-71 fly-past he had ever seen, especially how we had surprised them with such a precise maneuver that could only be described as breathtaking. He said that some of the cadet’s hats were blown off and the sight of the plan form of the plane in full afterburner dropping right in front of them was unbelievable. Walt and I both understood the concept of “breathtaking” very well that morning, and sheepishly replied that they were just excited to see our low approach.

As we retired to the equipment room to change from space suits to flight suits, we just sat there-we hadn’t spoken a word since “the pass.” Finally, Walter looked at me and said, “One hundred fifty-six knots. What did you see?” Trying to find my voice, I stammered, “One fifty-two.” We sat in silence for a moment. Then Walt said, “Don’t ever do that to me again!” And I never did.

A year later, Walter and I were having lunch in the Mildenhall Officer’s club, and overheard an officer talking to some cadets about an SR-71 fly-past that he had seen one day. Of course, by now the story included kids falling off the tower and screaming as the heat of the jet singed their eyebrows. Noticing our HABU patches, as we stood there with lunch trays in our hands, he asked us to verify to the cadets that such a thing had occurred. Walt just shook his head and said, “It was probably just a routine low approach; they’re pretty impressive in that plane.” Impressive indeed.

Little did I realize after relaying this experience to my audience that day that it would become one of the most popular and most requested stories. It’s ironic that people are interested in how slow the world’s fastest jet can fly. Regardless of your speed, however, it’s always a good idea to keep that cross-check up…and keep your Mach up, too.
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
I'm surprised it didn't fall out of the sky at that speed :o
What a great sight that must have been.

I have a similar story but involving a different aircraft.
I was working on top of the tower at Colerne airfield, which is situated on the edge of a small valley just between Chippenham and Bath.
As I stood there doing some routinte maintenance, a Chinook came rising up out of the valley, literally a few metres away, with some guys hanging out the back.
I don't know who got the bigger shock :D

Can I choose several?

I can? Oh in that case... :D

Lancaster Bomber


Avro Vulcan


Sea Harrier
 

siffert_fan

Too old to watch the Asian races live.
Contributor
Ah yes, the SR-71. Designed by the great Kelly Johnson (as was the U-2 (done in the span of 5 weeks), the F104, and the P38) without the aid of computers, only slide rules! It is a horrible mess on the ground as it leaks like a sieve, but is absolutely breathtaking in flight.
 
Fantastic story, thanks Speshal

Reminds me of when as a kid in Devon, seeing Harriers flying low was common

There was one time though when one literally flew along a stream with high banks on either side, he must have been less than 20 feet high and definitely having fun breaking several rules at once, he flashed almost level to us as we were on top of one of the banks with mouths wide open in shock, and as he pulled the nose up and banked up and around still managed to wave to us

Will never forget that as long as I live

And in those days there were always stories of Harriers landing on freighters etc in emergencies

That's my favourite plane, although not fast at all, favourite fast plane would be the SU-37 just for it's capabilities at the time
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
Speaking of Harriers, when I was in the RAF, we had an open day and one of the highlights was a Harrier hovering just 10 metres or so off the ground.

One WRAF recruit decided she wanted a closer look and wandered over to stand underneath.
I had to leg it pretty sharpish to drag her out of the way :D

I have also had the pleasure of seeing a Vulcan go into vertical climb using full afterburners, twice.
A sight I'll never forget :)
 
Seems to be a strong connection between the RAF and F1 and motorsports

My grandfather who was in the RAF during the war as a navigator loved F1 and all his friends were all the same - fanatics
I remember him now mainly through watching races with him as a young child when I didn't understand how my little toy cars were big and real, of course he bought me all those toy cars and my first race set
 

gethinceri

Daniil Kvyat Fan. Alfa Romeo Fan.
Contributor
Speaking of Harriers, when I was in the RAF, we had an open day and one of the highlights was a Harrier hovering just 10 metres or so off the ground.

One WRAF recruit decided she wanted a closer look and wandered over to stand underneath.
I had to leg it pretty sharpish to drag her out of the way :D
Loudest thing I've ever heard except explosives.
 

RevMaxPower

Banned
Boeing B-17, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, Lockheed Super Constellation, Boeing 747, North American P-51 Mustang, Short Sunderland Flying Boat, Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Grumman A6 Intruder, Bell UH-1 Iroquois (HUEY), Douglas C-47 Dakota, Corvair Hustler, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Lockheed SR- 71 Blackbird, Supermarine S6B...

I DO like Aeroplanes. I think it's the three dimensional thing!
 

Sarinaide

Banned
P 51 D Mustang (bubble canopy) - The fighter that won the war



FW 190 FockeWulf/Shrike - Death to bombers



B 17 Flying Fortress - Best strategic bomber of the war, airmen vowed there lives to the Big heavy.



Me 109e - Its testament lies in its adaptability the pre 1942 and 1944 planes were vastly differant and purpose built.



Supermarine Spitfire mk1 - The plane that kept the allies in the war (Europe)



F 4U Corsair - The Mustang of the pacific

 

Sarinaide

Banned
F 15 E - Team america feck yeah



Mig 29



A 10 - who would be a infantryman with this bag of death waiting to happen. Can you say Gauss Avenger baby.


F 4 Phantom - Visual viagra



F 14 - Highway to the dangerzone Aim54 Pheonix, Tom Cruise, iffy sex scenes NUFF SAID.



SU 27 Flanker

 
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