SR-71 & Pilots in Full Pressure Suits at Lockheed Martin, Late 1980’s. Photo by Eric Schulzinger

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Back in 66 I was with the army and stationed on Okinawa. The air force had several SR71’s on Kadena air base, their hangar was about 400 yards from the highway I took to town. You would see only a tail sticking out of the hanger and not much of that. In the evenings you could hear their engines being tested, the sound just way different from any other jet. This went on for months before I actually saw one sitting on the runway, I was simply amazed at this black object which looked like something out of a science fiction film. I pulled off the road for a look, so did a lot of others. The SR71 (I didn’t know its destination, everything about it was classified) revved up its engines, blue flame coming out of each one, it began to roll, fast. It disappeared from sight but you could still hear those engines in full whine and the next thing I witnessed was it airborne and nosing up until it was almost vertical; it then went into afterburner (or something) and just vanished! Literally just accelerated out of sight in a flash. Fucking awesome experience but I had a hard time believing what I had seen and so did the guys back at my unit. Made in America!

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