On September 1, 1974 Major James V. Sullivan, 37 (pilot) and Noel F. Widdifield, 33 (reconnaissance systems officer) (photo inset), flashed across the starting line (radar gates in New York) at approximately 80,000 feet and speed in excess of 2,000 miles per hour. Exactly 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds later, they had set a new world speed record from New York to London England. The average speed was 1,817 mph over the 3,488 mile course, slowing to refuel one time from a specially modified KC-135 refueling tanker. The aircraft was placed on static display at Farnborough Air Show for 1 week. It marked the first time the secret plane had been on public display outside of the United States. Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson (photo inset), the aircrafts designer, was on hand for the event. He remarked, "It (the SR-71) has exceeded all my expectations."
Another historic speed record
was set on the return trip to the United States. Capt Harold
B. Adams, 31 (pilot), and Major William Machorek, 32 (reconnaissance
systems operator), set a speed record from London to Los Angeles.
They returned the Blackbird 5,645 miles in 3 hours 47 minutes
and 39 seconds for an average speed of 1,480 miles per hour.
The difference in the two speed records was due to refueling
requirements and having to slow over major US cities. Even so
a large number of people in Los Angeles reported broken windows
due to the sonic boom.