Mach-3 SR-71 Blackbird’s HOT COCKPIT

Blackbird onboard USS Intrepid – Photo © Xavier Cotton http://www.passionpourlaviation.fr

As you may have heard, the mythical Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird was a strategic reconnaissance aircraft able to fly at more than Mach 3 – Mach 3.3 ie around 3,500 km/h; or 1,900 kts; and at a maximum flight level of… FL 850 or 26 kilometers high!

The Blackbird indeed had a unique flight envelope with a particular doghouse plot (since she could not exceed 3.5 G), and an exceptionnal coffin corner limited by her CIT – Compressor Inlet Temperature of 427°C maximum.

This aircraft was also unique for her engines were two J58 ramjets fuelled by JP-7 especially refined for extreme flying purpose. This special fuel could drip and leak abundantly as the airframe made up of titanium was retracted while taxiing, and became airtight only when it got its operating shape while flying very fast and very high because of the air density, and surrounding pressure plus the heating caused by the air friction at such speeds. In short, the whole structure considerably expanded when airborne.

The irony – I heard it on the grapevine, or read it somewhere on the web – that titanium which turned into dark blue while flying (SR-71s probably deserved those unofficial other nicknames « Bluebird », or « Habu » viper) was « imported » from… USSR!

Pilots must have taken significant risks inherent in flying such an aircraft as mentioned in this previous post. These pilots used to fly over the USSR to take strategic reconnaissance photographs during the Cold war. They wore pressurized spacesuits so that their blood could not boil in case of decompression or ejection at such altitudes.

The Blackbird travelled faster than a rifle bullet, and the air friction could have melt aluminum-skinned aircraft. At Mach 3.2, fuel cycled behind the chine surface in order to cool the aircraft! The inner windshield temperature could reach 120°C even though a heavy-duty cooling system was on a full function. On landing, the outside temperature of the canopy could reach 300°C, and it must have been far beyond on the fuselage, and wing surfaces while flying at high speeds. The pilot could feel the heat behind his protective gloves!

Special thanks to Xavier Cotton for the Blackbird photos. Please, visit his website on http://www.passionpourlaviation.fr

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DEW and FROST

Dew and frost - C-17 Globemaster III de-icing in Alaska

U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Keith Brown

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – Members of the 703rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron de-ice a C-17 Globemaster III from the 517th Airlift Squadron before a training mission. Heavy snow and weeks of sub-zero temperatures require extra effort from maintenance crews to keep the aircraft clear of ice and snow. The training mission included dropping Army Airborne Soldiers from Fort Richardson, Alaska, and conducting air drops of training bundles that simulate the Soldier’s equipment. (from AIR FORCE LINK)

DEW

Dew does not actually fall; rather the moisture condenses from air that is in direct contact with the cool surface. During clear, still nights, vegetation often cools by radiation to a temperature at or below the dew point of the adjacent air. Moisture then collects on the leaves just as it does on a pitcher of ice water in a warm room. Heavy dew is often observed on grass and plants when there is none on the pavements or on large, solid objects. These objects absorb so much heat during the day or give up heat so slowly, they may not cool below the dew point of the surrounding air during the night. Another type of dew is white dew. White dew is a deposit of white, frozen dew drops. It first forms as liquid dew, then freezes.

FROST

Frost, or hoarfrost, is formed by the process of sublimation. It is a deposit of ice having a crystalline appearance and generally assumes the form of scales, needles, feathers, or fans. Hoarfrost is the solid equivalent of dew and should not be confused with white dew, which is dew frozen after it forms.

Source: www.tpub.com