When it comes to the SR-71 and the stories surrounding the Lockheed’s Skunk Works program that created it, the mystique is undeniable.
Only 32 SR-71 aircraft were constructed, and 29 of those were SR-71A models. Two trainers, designated SR-71B, were also created.
The last SR-71, the SR-71C, was nicknamed “The Bastard.” The name was partly due to the Frankenstein-like creation of the aircraft. After one SR-71B trainer crashed in January 1968, it was determined that another trainer plane should be constructed.
The project began with a wrecked YF-12A that was utilized for the rear part of the fuselage, and the front came from a static, but functional, SR-71A mockup. It was apparently a “bastard” to fly as well, considering it was said to have a “yaw at supersonic speeds” due to the joined fuselage not being quite straight.
The Bastard’s first flight was conducted on March 14, 1969. The aircraft was piloted by Blackbird Chief Project Pilot Robert Gilliland and Lockheed test pilot Steve Belgeau. It was assigned to Beale Air Force Base in September 1970, and took its last flight on April 11, 1976.
After spending time in storage in Palmdale, California, the SR-71C found a permanent home on display at Hill Air Force Base’s Aerospace Museum.
Know Before You Go
The SR-71C is part of the aircraft collection at Hill Aerospace Museum, located in the northwest corner of Hill Air Force Base outside of Ogden, Utah. Take exit 338 off I-15 and turn left to go to the museum just before getting to the base gates.