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A personal collection of
Autographs, Letters, Photos, Patches, News Articles
What Is It?
Although it may look like something out of Project Blue Book or The UFO Files it is actually a D-21 from the
(above top secret program) called USAF Project Tagboard. Vintage 1960’s. See story board below.
D-21B Drone #528
(Tagboard) Production date - October 1968
Fellow HABU, Col. George "GT" Morgan
WORLD'S ABSOLUTE SPEED RECORD in SR-71A, #617958, set on 28 July 1976.
A 37 year long record, and still counting.
1966 Charles H. Hubbell lithograph titled "Black Bullet" (Lockheed SR-71) (YF-12A)
Rare Lockheed poster, 25th anniversary, Signed by Lockheed Chief Tech Rep at Beale.
Fred Carmody's office was directly on the other side of the wall from my office.
Always a perfect gentleman, Fred and his team were always willing to give assistance at a moments notice.
A limited edition litho #2 of 50 and autographed by George B. Parker, dated 1987
Battle Scarred SR-71 Titanium Belt Buckle
Serial #1006 of 2112
Limited Edition Print on Canvas #1 of 25
This is a list of the OJTIP programs that were available for the SR-71 aircraft.
Program No. Program Title
8701 Preflight and Launch
8702 Gaseous Nitrogen Servicing
8703 Refueling Operation
8704 Engine Run Supervisor
8705 External Power Application
8706 Recovery / BPO Inspection
8707 TEB Servicing
8709 LOX / LN2 Service
8710 Hydraulic System Service
8799 SR-71 Handbook
1986 D. M. Davies photo 14" X 23", notice the fuel soaked hanger floor
One of the last maintenance awards in the Blackbird program, Oct 89.
August 21, 2002
Louis Wellington Schalk Jr., 76, original chief test pilot for the A-12 Blackbird spy plane built by Lockheed's storied "Skunk Works" in 1962, died Friday in a hospice in Arlington, Va. The cause of death was complications of leukemia.
A native of Alden, Iowa, Schalk graduated from West Point and served with the 86th Fighter Bomber Wing in Germany. He later completed flight instructors school and taught at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas.
After graduating first in his class at the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California in 1954, Schalk became an Air Force test pilot under Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, flying such aircraft as the F-104 Starfighter.
Schalk joined Lockheed in 1957 and two years later was chosen as Kelly Johnson's chief test pilot for the secretive "Skunk Works."
Schalk personally helped design the cockpit of the Blackbird and then on April 26, 1962, took the plane on its first test flight out of Area 51 at Groom Lake, Nev. After four more days of working out problems, Schalk took the Blackbird aloft again on April 30 for its first official flight. For many years, the Blackbird reigned as the fastest plane in the skies.
In 1999, Schalk's name was added to the Aerospace Walk of Honor in Lancaster.
Cool picture! ~~~ HELT - FLANAGAN - VIDA - TILDEN
1971 Air Force Recruiting Pamphlet, The front cover depicts “The YF-12A” AF Art Collection painting by Ken Ottinger. Notice the Psychedelic theme, the booklet is filled with “way out” verbiage, photos and drawings with colorful distortion effects.
Original SAC Model KC-135 Q Original paint, Strategic Air Command Decals and 9th SRW tail markings.
Photo by Brian Shul, SR-71 Pilot
"The Super Beer Cooler"
Made from the KC-135Q, High Speed Refueling Boom
Original 9th Wing and Maintenance Squadron patches in their original colors
T-38 Talons over the coast line, Beautiful white paint schemes, 9th SRW tail markings,
Photo by Brian Shul, SR-71 Pilot
Books & Photos
At the Beale Flightline, atop the Avionics Maintenance building once had a message written with white rocks in Russian.
"YOU SEE US - WE SEE YOU"
A high altitude shot of Beale, I guess sometime back in the 60's or 70's.
Intent seems to play down the fears of sonic booms.
Here is an interesting Air Force Vinyl Album and a matching Pamphlet,
Prepared by HQ SAC, Directorate of Information,
"The Remarkable SR-71"
No reference to the name "Blackbird"
No date is on the pamphlet or album.
This is a very rare document and probably the only blank one in existence.
The coveted "Royal Order of HABU Fixers" Award.
These documents were printed on textured antique parchment and measure an odd 12-3/8" x 9-1/2".
Above is the 1989 Limited Edition Print #587 of 2000, size 28" x 13"
Autographed by the artist Joe Plummer.
Below is same print as published in the centerfold of the Air Combat Command Magazine in 1990.
I think this is one of the best pencil drawings of the Blackbird in existence.
Col. Richard H. Graham, SR-71 Pilot, Squadron Commander, 9th SRW Commander.
"The Commander's Key Vault"
This little safe with the big combo lock was use to hold "The Key".
One of the side jobs for the Machinist was safe cracker.
The 9th Wing duty officer came to me and said the key was locked in the Key Safe, they lost the combination and they needed it ASAP!
I cut a notch out of the back corner of the safe and handed him the key. I ask the Lt, what he wanted me to do with it? He just looked at it, shrugged his shoulders and said "Keep it", it's no use to us now.
The safe sat around the shop a few years. One day while I was looking at it, I saw that I was able to get a screw driver in from the hole I cut in the back and unscrew the combination lock. Once I got the lock off, I was able to reset the combination. I welded up the hole and it was like new again.
Modern day "Trench Art" an SR-71 Titanium Bracelet
Double hearing protection is a must during the J58 test runs.
Check out this link showing the last J58 test run at Edwards AFB September 12, 2002.
This is a great example and historical photo record of the Blackbird Program's back shop areas of the 9th SRW, 9th FMS, Fabrication Branch, Machine Shop, Welding Shop, & Structural Repair Shop.
After the Blackbird program the names changed to the Fabrication Flight. The Machine Shop / Welding Shop to Metals Technology.
Our uniforms also change from the old style green fatigues to the BDU, Battle Dress Uniform.
This is where we rebuild and fine tune the forward by-pass doors.
All of the SR-71, U-2, KC-135-Q, & T-38's are repaired here. This includes airframes, subsystems, and any other metal repairs.
This is one of the older 15th AF certificates
Beale Air Show "2009"
Patches & Emblems
Most of these patches seen below were worn by personnel of the units of which I maintained aircraft and equipment.
A few, I just like the designs.
What is CYGNUS?
Names given to the Blackbird family of aircraft.
Archangel was the name given for the "studies" of first 12 versions of the supersonic reconnaissance aircraft. A-1 through A-12.
The U-2 was named the Angel and since the OXCART flew higher and faster it was designated Archangel with the final designation of A-12.
An aircraft's true name was customarily given by the Airman who flew them. The name selected by her aircrews was christened CYGNUS. Thus CYGNUS is the original name of the aircraft, A-12.
Further developments in the name for a interceptor version was YF-12.
The USAF ordered the "RS-71" a two-seater version with higher capability while the CIA's, A-12 was retired.
President Johnson misnamed the RS-71 as the "SR-71" and hence the name SR-71 was retitled and all references changed to SR-71.
A unmanned MACH 4 drone air launch version was called the M-21 with the drone being called the D-21. "M" for Mother Ship and "D" for Daughter Ship.
Originally the SR-71 was only called the SR-71 and even to this day official documents as well as air and ground crews will only refer to the aircraft officially as the SR-71.
The Air Force maintained detachments in the England (Det 4) and Okinawa Japan (Det 1). The nickname HABU originated at Det 1 in Okinawa as the local referred to the aircraft looking like a native species of a black snake.
In England at Det 4 the nickname "Blackbird" was used by locals and hence the name stuck. This may have been related to the popular Beatles song during that time.
Other Nicknames given to the SR-71 were the "SLED", "Lady in Black", "The Beast", "Titanium Goose". But most commonly, the name the SR-71 was referred to by her air and ground crews was simply the "SR". Other names given to specific airframes were simple referred to using the last three digits of the serial number, such as "972" or "960". the "Bastard", "ICHI BAN", "Rapid Rabbit", Etc.
Thus the only true name still remains as CYGNUS, the name "Blackbird" is not officially recognized in documents, only the "SR-71".
It is speculated that the name "CYGNUS" was derived from the need for a more accurate navigational system.
Nortronics, the electronics development organization of Northrop, had extensive astro-inertial experience, having provided an earlier generation system for the USAF SM-62 Snark missile. With this background, Nortronics developed the Astro-Inertial Navigation System for the AGM-87 Skybolt missile, which was to be carried and launched from B-52H bombers. When the Skybolt Program was cancelled in December 1962, the assets Nortronics developed for the Skybolt Program were ordered to be adapted for the Blackbird program. A Nortronics "Skunkworks" type organization in Hawthorne, California completed the development and fielding of this system, sometimes referred to as the NAS-14 and/or the NAS-21.
As early as the mid-1960s, advanced electronic and computer systems had evolved enabling navigators to obtain automated celestial sight fixes. These systems were used aboard both ships as well as US Air Force aircraft, and were highly accurate, able to lock onto up to 11 stars (even in daytime) and resolve the craft's position to less than 300 feet (91 m). The SR-71 high-speed reconnaissance aircraft was one example of an aircraft that used automated celestial navigation. These rare systems were expensive, however, and the few that remain in use today are regarded as backups to more reliable satellite positioning systems.
Blackbird precision navigation requirements for route accuracy, sensor pointing and target tracking preceded the development and fielding of GPS (the Global Positioning System and its family of position determining satellites). U-2 and A-12 Inertial Navigation Systems existed, but US Air Force planners wanted a system that would bound inertial position growth for longer missions envisioned for the SR-71.
The ANS primary alignment was done on the ground and was time consuming, but brought the inertial components to a high degree of level and accuracy for the start of a mission. A "blue light" source star tracker, which could detect and find stars during day or night, would then continuously track stars selected from the system's digital computer ephemeris as the changing aircraft position would bring them into view. Originally equipped with data on 56 selected stars, the system would correct inertial orientation errors with celestial observations. The resulting leveling accuracies obtained limited accelerometer errors and/or position growth.
Rapid ground alignments and air start abilities were later developed and added to the ANS. Attitude and position inputs to on-board systems and flight controls included the Mission Data Recorder, Auto-Nav steering between loaded destination points, automatic pointing and/or control of cameras at control points and optical or SLR sighting of fix points (this mission data being tape loaded into the ANS prior to take-off).
The ANS was located behind the RSO station and tracked stars through a round, quartz window seen in photos of the upper fuselage. Cooling in the Blackbird mach 3.0+ cruising environment was a serious development challenge resolved by Lockheed and Nortronics engineers during the early test phases. The ANS became a highly reliable and accurate self-contained navigation system. The nickname given to the Blackbirds Astro-Inertial Navigation System was coined after the Star Wars movie robot "R2-D2".
When the pilots first saw the A-12, they were enthusiastic to conjure up a name for the remarkable aircraft. These names are customarily derived from celestial objects. CIA pilot Jack Weeks proposed the name Cygnus to equal one of the most phenomenal asterisms in nature containing a true giant star called Deneb and as well as a binary star system known as Cygnus X-1 in which a gigantic star races around a black hole shooting out X-Ray beams at its poles and a most fascinating planet called Kepler 22b, the first such recent discovery of an Earth like planet.
Symbolism shown here in the SR-71 Navigation Training patch from 1976
Celestial navigation is the process of finding one’s geographic latitude and longitude by means of astronomical observations to celestial bodies, with knowledge of the correct time. A star tracker combines a telescope and a photo sensor to convert celestial light energy into an electric signal. A sensor is then used to determine where in the field of view the celestial body is, thus providing an output of azimuth. The star tracker is often integrated with an inertial system by a Kalman filter. Modern celestial navigation systems are able to simultaneously track many stars, thus allowing constellation matching (using an appropriate embedded
star catalogue database) which, in turn, improves the accuracy, continuity and robustness of the navigation solution. Celestial navigation systems are self-contained, provide worldwide operation, and cannot be jammed. They do have potential utility in certain urban navigation applications. However, cloud cover and other obstructions of the sky may preclude their use. Angle measurements on the order of 1 to 2 arc seconds are achievable which corresponds to a positioning accuracy of about 50 to 100 m.
Time is critical for navigation. Time was required by the early navigators to determine longitude and is required in all dead reckoning systems. Accurate time measurement is also the principle by which a modern radio navigation system, such as GPS, is able to function. Since radio signals travel about 30 centimetres in one nanosecond (ns), time accuracy must be on the order of 1 ns to maintain overall system accuracy to a few meters. Each GPS satellite contains four highly accurate atomic clocks which are monitored continuously by ground control stations. GPS time is a composite of the time scales maintained by atomic clocks on the ground and on the satellites. Relativistic effects are removed and synchronization with ground clocks is performed via periodic corrections to the on-board clocks. Each GPS satellite includes in its navigation message an estimate of the difference between its internal clock and GPS time and the difference between GPS time and UTC (Universal Time Coordinated). The exact difference between UTC and GPS time is given by two constants which are refreshed periodically: one giving the time difference and the second the rate of time difference. These predictions are updated on the ground every 15 minutes, but each satellite’s broadcast information is updated approximately once per day.
Portable Cesium Atomic Clock
GPS time was set to zero (week 0, day 0) and synchronised with 00:00:00 UTC on January 6, 1980 and since it is not perturbed by leap seconds, GPS is now ahead of UTC, popularly known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), or Zulu time, by 14 seconds. With the exception of the integer number of leap seconds, GPS time is steered within one microsecond of UTC with the difference reported in the GPS navigation message to a precision of 90 nanoseconds. All GPS receivers contain an inexpensive, but less accurate, oscillator/clock that is calibrated continuously by the GPS system while signals are being received. When the receiver is not tracking satellites, the clock can drift significantly, making subsequent signal reacquisition harder. Advanced research is ongoing to develop a “Chip Scale Atomic Clock” for many applications, including GPS receivers, which would allow rapid signal acquisition and navigation with less than four satellites, which is especially useful in urban and indoor environments. When mature and deployed in future military GPS receivers, it can improve signal tracking in a high-jamming environment, signal reacquisition capability, and position solution accuracy.
More data on the Blackbirds namesake.
Cygnus is situated in the Milky Way. Its brightest stars mark the Northern Cross. Cygnus, with the bright star Deneb in the swan's tail, appears high in the summer sky. The three bright stars Deneb, Vega (in the constellation of Lyra), and Altair (in the constellation of Aquila) mark the Summer Triangle. Altair is about 40 degrees from Deneb and Vega.
Albireo, the bright star at the head of the Cygnus, is an excellent example of a telescopic double star. Even with binoculars, you can see that it consists of two stars of different colours, one is very orange the other bluish white. You must take a look at them.
As Cygnus lies in the Milky Way it is full of variable stars (stars who's brightness varies over a period of time) and the have been several novae in the boundaries of this constellation - the last was seen in 1976.
The North American Nebula lies within Cygnus, it's very dim but is reported to be easy to photograph. The nebula needs a telescope with aperture larger than 6" to see it.
1800 Light Years distance from Earth and is 70,000 times as luminous as the Sun.
Deneb (Alpha Cygni) is one of the truly great stars of our Galaxy, Deneb serves a three-fold role among the constellations. Its very name tells the first. "Deneb" is from an Arabic word meaning "tail," as this first magnitude (1.25) star, the 19th brightest as it appears in our sky, represents the tail of Cygnus the Swan, a classical figure seen flying perpetually to the south along the route of the Milky Way. As the constellation's luminary, the star is also Alpha Cygni. The reversal of Cygnus makes the asterism of the Northern Cross, with Deneb now at the top, the cross seen rising on its side in early northern summer, standing upright in the west in early northern winter evenings. Deneb also makes the western apex of the famed Summer Triangle, which also incorporates Vega and Altair. All three of these white class A stars (Deneb an A2 supergiant) have similar surface temperatures, Vega, at 9600 Kelvin, the warmest, Deneb radiating at 8400 Kelvin. Though Vega and Altair are really quite luminous, they are first magnitude primarily because they are close to us, averaging only 25 light years away. Deneb, on the other hand, may be as far as 2600 light years. Based on that distance, its awesome luminosity of 160,000 Suns makes it about the intrinsically brightest star of its kind (that is, in its temperature or spectral class) in the entire Galaxy. If placed at the distance of Vega, Deneb would shine as bright as a well- developed crescent Moon. Deneb is a true supergiant, its diameter, calculated from its temperature and luminosity, is 200 times that of the Sun. Direct measurement of its tiny angular diameter (a mere 0.002 seconds of arc) gives a very similar value of 180 solar. If it were placed at the center of our Solar System, Deneb would extend to the orbit of the Earth. While far from the largest star in the Galaxy, Deneb is one of the biggest of its kind. It is evolving and has stopped fusing hydrogen in its core. Just what it is doing, however, we do not know. Having begun its life as a star of some 25 solar masses, its fate is almost certainly to explode sometime within the next couple of million years. The star is constant in its light, but its spectrum, its light as seen when stretched into a rainbow, is slightly variable. Blowing from its surface is a wind that causes the star to lose mass at a rate of 0.8 millionths of a solar mass per year, a hundred thousand times the flow rate from the Sun. Deneb is among the most magnificent stars you can see with the unaided eye.
Cygnus X-1 is a well-known galactic X-ray source in the constellation Cygnus. It was discovered in 1964 during a rocket flight and is one of the strongest X-ray sources seen from Earth, producing a peak X-ray flux density of 2.3×10−23 Wm−2Hz−1 (2.3×103 Jansky). Cygnus X-1 was the first X-ray source widely accepted to be a black hole candidate and it remains among the most studied astronomical objects in its class. It is now estimated to have a mass about 8.7 times the mass of the Sun and has been shown to be too compact to be any known kind of normal star or other likely object besides a black hole. If so, the radius of its event horizon is probably about 26 km.
Cygnus X-1 belongs to a high-mass X-ray binary system about 6,100 light years from the Sun that includes a blue supergiant variable star designated HDE 226868 which it orbits at about 0.2 AU, or 20% of the distance from the Earth to the Sun. A stellar wind from the star provides material for an accretion disk around the X-ray source. Matter in the inner disk is heated to millions of kelvins (K), generating the observed X-rays. A pair of jets, arranged perpendicular to the disk, are carrying part of the infalling material away into interstellar space.
This system may belong to a stellar association called Cygnus OB3, which would mean that Cygnus X-1 is about five million years old and formed from a progenitor star that had more than 40 solar masses. The majority of the star's mass was shed, most likely as a stellar wind. If this star had then exploded as a supernova, the resulting force would most likely have ejected the remnant from the system. Hence the star may have instead collapsed directly into a black hole.
Cygnus X-1 was the subject of a friendly scientific wager between physicists Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne in 1974, with Hawking betting that it was not a black hole. He conceded the bet in 1990 after observational data had strengthened the case that there was indeed a black hole in the system.
Several extrasolar planets including HAT-P-7b, HAT-P-11b, HD 185269 b, HD 187123 b and c, Gliese 777 b and c, and 16 Cygni Bb, have been discovered in Cygnus, but the most notable is Kepler 22b, which is believed to be the first "Earth-twin" planet ever discovered, with an estimated average surface temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit. In January 2010 the Kepler Mission announced the discovery of the additional planets Kepler-5b and Kepler-6b, which are expected to be the first of many discovered by the mission, which has a significant part of its field of view in Cygnus.
Kepler-22b is the first confirmed extrasolar planet found by NASA's Kepler Space Telescope to orbit within the habitable zone of a Sun-like star. Kepler-22b, a possible super-Earth, is 600 light years away from Earth, in orbit around Kepler-22, a G-type star.
The discovery was announced December 5, 2011. The planet was originally discovered on Kepler's third day of science operations in mid-2009. The third transit was detected in late 2010. Additional confirmation data was provided by the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based observations.
Composition and structure
Kepler-22b's radius is roughly 2.4 times the radius of Earth, or about 60% that of Neptune. Its mass and surface composition remain unknown, with only some very rough estimates established: It has less than 124 Earth masses at the 3 sigma confidence limit, and less than 36 Earth masses at 1 sigma confidence.
It has been estimated that it is probably a "Neptunian" (i.e. mass similar to Neptune) planet with a mass of ~35 Earth masses, but in the it could be an "ocean like" world with only some 10 Earth masses.
Since it is substantially larger than Earth, it is likely to have a different composition than Earth, and depending on its actual mass, the planet could be rocky, liquid, or gaseous. If it is mostly ocean with a small rocky core, Natalie Batalha, one of the scientists on the project, speculated "it's not beyond the realm of possibility that life could exist in such an ocean." This possibility of life has spurred SETI to perform research on top candidates for extraterrestrial intelligence.
The only parameters of the planet's orbit that are currently available are its period which is about 290 days, and its inclination, which is such that it transits the disk of its star as seen from Earth.
No information is available about the shape of the planet's orbit. Many extrasolar planets are known to move in highly elliptical orbits. We only know that the semi-major axis of its orbit is within the habitable zone of an Earth mass planet. If Kepler-22b has a highly elongated orbit it may well only spend a small fraction of its time within this habitable zone.
The average distance from Kepler-22b to its host star Kepler-22 is about 15% less than the distance from Earth to the Sun but the luminosity (light output) of Kepler-22 is about 25% less than that of the Sun. This combination of a shorter average distance from the star and a lower stellar luminosity are consistent with a moderate surface temperature at that distance if we assume that the surface is not subject to extreme greenhouse heating.
If the planet is found to move in a highly elliptical orbit, its surface temperature will vary from a higher temperature when close to Kepler-22 to lower when further away. If the orbit is indeed highly elliptical, then the temperature variance range will be extreme.
Scientists can estimate the possible surface conditions as follows:
In the absence of an atmosphere, the equilibrium temperature would be approximately -11°C.
If the atmosphere provides a greenhouse effect similar in magnitude to the one on Earth, the planet would have an average surface temperature of 22 °C (72°F).
If the atmosphere has a greenhouse effect similar in magnitude to the one on Venus, the planet would have an average surface temperature of 460 °C (860°F).
CYGNUS AND DENEB MYTHOLOGY
Hyginus tells that Zeus was fallen in love with the goddess Nemesis, but that she didn't want to have anything to do with him. To overcome her resistances, Zeus changed into a swan and asked Aphrodite to change into an eagle and to pretend to chase him. Nemesis, pitied by the escaping swan, gave him protection by taking him on her lap: too late she understood that in those borrowed plumes there was the king of gods.
Of this myth there is a different version, told by Heratostenes. He says that Nemesis, to escape Zeus' loving proffers, changed into many animals: but Zeus stubbornly pursued her, by changing each time into an animal which was greater and faster than hers. When Nemesis changed into a goose, Zeus assumed the features of a swan, finally succeeding in reaching her.
In other legend, the Greek God, Zeus disguised himself as a swan to seduce Leda, who gave birth to Gemini, Helen of Troy, and Clytemnestra.
An interesting note; Recent data in the study in the migration of Whooper Swans indicate their ability for celestial navigation by objects in the constellation Cygnus thus suggesting that early man was influenced by the migratory instincts of birds for nomadic tribes in search of food and a more survivable environment evolving into the mythology, timing for the planting of crops and trade, discovery of new lands and eventually resulting in advanced Astro-inertial navigation.
What happened to Jack Weeks and his Blackbird??
You can read one perspective about the one and only, mysteriously missing A-12, Blackbird #60-6932 and her CIA Pilot Jack Weeks at this link-- http://www.wvi.com/~sr71webmaster/loss_3.htm
The Blackbird's systems signal code sensor transmitter "The Birdwatcher" indicated that the Blackbird's exhaust gas temperature exceeded maximum limits by only 108 degrees F. and that it was using a bit more than half of it's fuel rate consumed at cruise speed.
The Air Force declared the aircraft missing east of the Philippines and south of Okinawa. The North Vietnam government claimed that it's anti-aircraft guns shot down a U.S. spy plane.
The facts are that as many as three incidents of Blackbird's being hit or damaged by enemy anti-aircraft weapons although it's been speculated that more than 4000 missiles were fired upon them. This in itself lends to the remarkable achievements in the development of these aircraft and the outstanding heroics of their aircrews.
Jack Weeks' was posthumously awarded the "CIA Intelligence Star for Valor" in 2007.
Contractor, Lockheed Corp, Rotary Wing Maintenance Support, US Army 160th AVIM
Grandson Cody Knox, Deployed Iraq, US Army, 2010
Nephew, Dex Freeman, US Army, Deployed, Afghanistan, 2011
In honor of the late John Edward Hara "Jack"