The SR-71 Blackbird is probably my favorite aircraft ever. I saw it fly twice in my life. Once at the Norton AFB airshow, when its barely-subsonic low-pass set off all the car alarms in the parking lot, and once again when it departed (then NAS) Miramar in San Diego after being on static display at the airshow. I’ll never forget the latter. I was at the fence on the frontage road adjacent to I-15 and someone had a scanner blasting the radio calls between the pilot and tower. He took off with full afterburner, circled back into the pattern for a slow-pass. On the second circle-back, we heard the pilot request an unrestricted climb. He came back for a second, low and fast pass, then pulled back on the stick, hit the burners again and ascended straight up until the two orange dots of the afterburners almost met. He did this in an opening in the clouds. I haven’t ever forgotten the sight—but especially the sound.
(Photo by Sgt. P.A. Tubridy)