I grew up around military aviation, and as most kids who grow up near an Air Force base I’ve always been an aviation buff, and I remember being the only kid in my high school with a pilot’s license.
My parents were neighbors of Chuck Yeager (my Dad and he were both young captains, fresh out of WWII, and both with a passion for Poker games):
If you remember the movie, “The Right Stuff”, Chuck was a central character, the true hero and forbearer of the astronaut. He hails from West Virginia, a mountain boy who made good and has a great southern drawl. Even today, Chuck’s suave air traffic control mannerisms are taught and copied by pilots all over the world:
“His smooth West Virginia drawl and easy going demeanor in the cockpit inspired every pilot whether military or commercial and all air traffic control operators to adopt that same easy tone while talking in the mic.
In fact pilots and air traffic control operators are taught the Yeager drawl during training.”
Here is Chuck with Sam Sheppard, the feller who played him in the movie:
The SR-71 up close
In 1969, I got to see an SR-71 flying. I lived less than a quarter mile from the main runway, and everyone in my neighborhood could tell what types of fighters were flying by the way that they vibrated our windows. One morning there was a huge “VOOM” in the pre-dawn darkness, and I went straight over to Base OPS to see what kind of toy made such a ruckus. It was a real SR-71, and I caught a glimpse as they rolled her into a private hanger. I’ll never forget the leading edge of the wings were glowing orange:.
In less than an hour she emerged, and the take-off was unforgettable. He rolled on forever, and at one point I thought the SR71 would roll off the end of the high desert runway, but she rotated and leapt straight into the stratosphere at a 55% angle. It’s just like the photo’s.
When the afterburner kicks in, there are amazing rings in the contrail:
On to hypersonic speeds
Hypersonic is considered Mach 5 (3,000 MPH) or faster, and I don’t believe that the SR-71 still holds the speed record (only Mach 3), after nearly 40 years.
Imagine flying at Mach 20 with a RAM JET (check out this report from Rice University). Reports from Sweden indicate a triangular Aurora aircraft cocked at Mach 20, and the plane flew over the whole of Russia in just a few hours!
Click here for some artists rendering of what this amazing hypersonic aircraft looks like. Imagine the rush of moving 5x faster than a rifle bullet.
Here is a mockup of an Aurora aircraft, from a good site “above top secret”.
Now we see glimpses of “Project Aurora” a super-secret USAF project that claims to have gotten to Mach 20, over $14,000 miles per hour!
Imagine flying coast-to-coast in less than an hour . . . .. .