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Lirdon666 karma

This is my poptart, there are many like it, but this one is mine.

My poptart is my best friend. It is my life, I must enjoy it, as I enjoy my life.

Lirdon340 karma

Hello Rich, thanks for doing this AMA!

I am sorry this going to be long so I hope you will bear with me, there are several things I wish to ask.

  1. The center of gravity is a critical factor in the SR-71 because of the narrow margins of stability chosen for the aircraft. In the subsonic range the Center of Gravity (CG) had to be between 17-22% of the wing chord length, while in the supersonic range it had to be set (using the fuel transfer) to 25-26% for fuel efficiency. My question is whether the different CG settings were there to compensate for the shift in center of pressure between subsonic and supersonic speeds, or was it because in the subsonic speeds it was better to have a more stable aircraft with its CG slightly forward?

  2. From maintenance standpoint what was the aircraft like, was it maintenance heavy? What was its biggest problem?

  3. On the same note, it was said that the body of the jet was effectively re-tempered during flight because of the high temperatures involved. On the other hand there is an account by a crew chief that says that there were common structural failures due to the stress of fast flight. Any way you can elaborate on this?

  4. I'm interested in your experience during the 1973 Yom Kippur War (Giant Reach/Busy Pilot). These were the first extreme long duration missions, some 10 hours if I'm not mistaken. How many missions did you fly during that war, were you aware of any intercept attempts or missile launches by the Egyptians, the Syrians and the Israeli forces? Any interesting experiences during that time?

  5. It was said that SR-71 pilots in training had to unlearn different habits because the aircraft was so different than any other, that the pilot flew vectors not headings. What does it really mean, flying vectors?

  6. lastly the next question you have probably heard a hundred times, and answered a hundred times over. As I understand, in your experience the Foxbat (Mig-25) and the Foxhound (Mig-31) were not much of a threat to a Blackbird in cruise. But I ask of your thoughts on Russian and Swedish accounts of apparently successful intercepts. In particular the swedes say they would constantly detect a Foxbat-E (Mig-25PD/PDS) in 63,000 ft (19,200 m) and 1.8 miles (2.9 km) in trail of the HABU just as it was about to leave the Baltic. I also would like to note that the Russians say they wouldn't turn their radars on, so its signals wouldn't be picked up by the DEF and ELINT systems. They would use their Infra Red sensors since the SR-71 is such a hot aircraft with a blazing afterburner in contrast to the cold skies. They would only turn the radar on if they intended to shoot. So most likely the HABUs were never aware of these intercepts. Do you have any thoughts about this? Whether it was feasible, whether you had some kind of intelligence about it?

Thanks Again!

EDIT:Messed up with the dates on question number 4. sorry!

EDIT2: Obligatory gold edit: thanks stranger, though I am a bit embarrassed that on this gilded post I messed up badly with a question (#4).

Lirdon160 karma

When during the flight would you be able to spare the time to heat up (using the windows) and eat the meal?

Lirdon110 karma

Thank you very much for your answers. No sweat about question number 1, it was a long shot anyways. But I'd like to follow on that question with another, if I may. If in the "Hot Leg" you would encounter a problem affecting the stability of the aircraft, say a sideslip or an oscillation, would the procedures demand moving the GC forward just to make the aircraft more stable and less likely to depart controlled flight, or the CG was to be fixed at all times no matter what?

I also messed up with the dates with the Yom Kippur War and read the account in your book: "flying the SR-71" as your own, sorry. In any case, there are accounts from the Israelis that noticed the SR-71 overflights, not during Yom Kippur War, maybe later on. the first few time they apparently were at a complete loss what the hell was that thing, but they did try to intercept, without success.

Lirdon27 karma

Both can be true.