The SR-71, unofficially known as the "Blackbird," is a long-range, advanced, strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Lockheed A-12 and YF-12A aircraft. The first flight of an SR-71 took place on December 22, 1964, and the first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, California, in January 1966.
On March 21, 1968 Major (later General) Jerome F. O'Malley and Major Edward D. Payne made this aircraft's first operational sortie. During its career, the aircraft accumulated 2,981 flying hours and flew 942 total sorties (more than any other SR-71), including 257 operational missions, from Beale AFB, Calif.; Palmdale, Calif.; Kadena Air Base, Okinawa and RAF (Base) Mildenhall, England. (NMUSAF)
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