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Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by ntsqd, Oct 24, 2006.

  1. ntsqd

    ntsqd 1/2 ton status

    Nov 28, 2002
    Likes Received:
    So. CA
    there! beat y'all to it.
    Now then, an old story (True? Flase? WTF cares) that's still a good read:

    Subject: SR71 speed is king

    There were a lot of things we couldn’t do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane. Intense, maybe. Even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment. It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plan in the past ten months. Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet. I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him for when we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it. I still insisted on talking on the radio while were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn’t match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury. Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center , far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

    We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot asked Center for a readout of his ground speed. Center replied:

    November Charlie 175, I’m showing you at ninety knots on the ground.

    Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional, tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the “ Houston Center voice.” I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country’s space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that… and that they basically did. And it didn’t matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios.

    Just moments after the Cessna’s inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his groundspeed.

    Ah, Twin Beach .
    I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed.

    Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

    Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up on frequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios.

    Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check

    Before Center could reply, I’m thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a readout? Then I got it, ol’ Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He’s the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet.

    And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion:

    Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground.

    And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought, it must be done – in mere seconds we’ll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now.

    I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn. Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona , there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet.

    Then, I heard it. The click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke:

    Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?

    There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request.

    Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground.

    I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his most fighter-pilot-like voice:

    Ah, Center, much thanks,
    We’re showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money.

    For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with,

    Roger that Aspen ,
    Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours.

    You boys have a good one.

    It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day’s work.

    We never heard another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.
  2. BoondocK5

    BoondocK5 1 ton status Author

    May 13, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Repost or not...stll a good read!
  3. tRustyK5

    tRustyK5 Big meanie Staff Member Super Moderator GMOTM Winner Author

    Jul 23, 2000
    Likes Received:
    E-town baby!

    :waytogo: :waytogo:

  4. beater_k20

    beater_k20 Banned

    Dec 9, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Elkhart, IN
    good stuff. :D
  5. MNorby

    MNorby 3/4 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

    Dec 10, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Powell, Wy
    good reading for sure
  6. RockinChevy

    RockinChevy 1/2 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

    May 9, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Chandler, AZ
    yeah another great read to crave my need to speed!!!!:D :bow: :bow:
  7. ARAMP1

    ARAMP1 Aviator Extraordinaire Premium Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Memphis, TN
    I definitely wasn't born in the right time. Just a couple decades too late. :mad:

    On a related note, a buddy of mine was working Transient alert in the late 80s at Holloman AFB and had this cool story. This was back in the day when the TA were active duty and the SR71 flew at a tune of $200K a flight hour. Anyway, my buddy Joe was listening to the tower/approach frequency for any approaching aircraft that may visit that he would need to service. This one evening when things were going slow, they got a call from a “Fast 11” who was setting up his approach into Holloman. The approach controller responded saying that he didn’t have him on the radar and requested a position report. The controller knew that if he was requesting to get lined up for the approach, he must be close. The pilot responded “If I look out my left window, I’m looking at the Bay of Oakland”. That’s 1000 miles out!!!
  8. mosesburb

    mosesburb For Rent Premium Member GMOTM Winner

    Apr 20, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Phoenix AZ
    It is true. I have read it in a couple of different publications. If you enjoy stories like this, there are a couple books you would really like.

    SR71 Revealed by Rich Graham


    Sr71 Stories, Tales and Legends by Rich Graham
    This would be the better "first" book to get as it has more of those amazing stories in it.


    Skunk Works by Ben Rich
    This book is not just about the SR71, but Skunk Works aircraft projects. Ben Rich took over the Skunk Works after Kelly Johnson retired and this is a personal memoir of his time at the Skunk Works from when he was first called over from the main plant in 1958. To read it in chronological order, one must start in chapter five, read to the end , then start at the beginning and read to chap five. It has a bunch of interesting stories in it as well. I will drag this one off the shelf once or twice a year and re-read it. I can't say that about many other books.

    The only speed limit set on that aircraft is that the compressor inlet temperature (CIT) not exceed 427*C. There are stories in those books of being over "hostile" territory and having a SAM launched at them while "cruising" at Mach 3.3 and their evasive manouver was to ACCELERATE!! Worked every time!! Wow, accelerate from a cruise speed of Mach 3.3. Unbelievable. The fact that it was designed with slide-rulers is a blow-mind.

    GEORGIA GABE 1/2 ton status

    May 25, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Conyers, ga
    Just for you people like me who dont comprehend knots as a relavent speed.
    1900knots is 2185mph
    :D :bow:

    hell yeah

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