SR-71 Losses Listing

64-17950 (SR-71A) The prototype SR-71 was lost on 10 January 1967 at Edwards during an anti-skid braking system evaluation. The main undercarriage tires blew out and the resulting fire in the magnesium wheels spread to the rest of the aircraft as it ran off the end of the runway. Lockheed test pilot Art Peterson survived.

64-17952 (SR-71A) This aircraft disintegrated on 25 January 1966 during a high-speed, high-altitude test flight when it developed a severe case of engine unstart. Lockheed test pilot Bill Weaver survived although his ejection seat never left the plane! Reconnaissance System Officer (RSO) Jim Zwayer died in a high-G bailout. The incident occurred near Tucumcari, New Mexico.

64-17953 (SR-71A) This aircraft was lost on 18 December 1969 after an inflight explosion and subsequent high-speed stall. Lt Col Joe Rogers and RSO Lt Col Garry Heidelbaugh ejected safely. The precise cause of the explosion has never be determined. The incident occurred near Shoshone, California.

64-17954 (SR-71A) This aircraft was demolished on 11 April 1969 under circumstances similar to 64-17950. New aluminum wheels and stronger tires with a beefed up compound were retrofitted to all SR-71's. Lt Col Bill Skliar and his RSO Major Noel Warner managed to escape uninjured.

64-17957 (SR-71B) This aircraft was the second SR-71B built for the Air Force. It crashed on approach to Beale on 11 January 1968 when instructor pilot Lt Col Robert G. Sowers and his "student" Captain David E.Fruehauf were forced to eject about 7 miles from Beale after all control was lost. The plane had suffered a double generator failure followed by a double flameout (caused by fuel cavitation) and pancaked upside down in a farmer's field.

64-17965 (SR-71A) This aircraft was lost on 25 October 1967 after an INS platform failed, leading to erroneous attitude information being displayed in the cockpit. During a night flight, the INS gyro had tumbled. There were no warning lights to alert pilot Captain Roy L. St.Martin and RSO Captain John F Carnochan. In total darkness, in a steep dive and no external visual references available, the crew had little alternative. They were able to eject safely. The incident occurred near Lovelock, Nevada.

64-17966 (SR-71A) Lost on the evening of 13 April 1967 after the aircraft entered a subsonic, high-speed stall. Pilot Captain Earle M. Boone and RSO Captain Richard E. Sheffield ejected safely. The incident occurred near Las Vegas, Nevada.

64-17969 (SR-71A) Lost on 10 May 1970 during an operational mission from Kadena, Okinawa against North Vietnam. Shortly after air-refueling, the pilot, Major William E. Lawson initiated a normal full power climb.Stretching before him was a solid bank of cloud containing heavy thunderstorm activity which reached above 45,000'. Heavy with fuel, the aircraft was unable to maintain a high rate of climb and as it entered turbulence both engines flamed out. The RPM dropped to a level too low for restarting the engines. Pilot and RSO, Major Gilbert Martinez ejected safely after the aircraft stalled. The plane crashed near Korat RTAFB, Thailand.

64-17970 (SR-71A) Lost on 17 June 1970 following a post-tanking collision with the KC-135 tanker. Lt Col "Buddy" L. Brown and his RSO Maj Mortimer Jarvis ejected safely although both legs of the pilot were broken. The SR-71 crashed 20 miles east of El Paso, Texas, but the KC-135 limped back to Beale AFB with a damaged fin.

64-17974 (SR-71A) This aircraft was lost on 21 April 1989 over the South China Sea and is the last loss of any Blackbird as of December 1991. Pilot Lt Col Dan House said the left engine blew up and shrapnel from it hit the right-side hydraulic lines, causing a loss of flight controls. House and RSO Blair Bozek ejected and came down safely in the ocean. They had been able to broadcast their position before abandoning the Blackbird, and rescue forces were immediately on the way. However the crew were rescued by native fisherman. The local chieftain's new throne is Colonel House's ejection seat! .

64-17977 (SR-71A) This aircraft ended its career in flames by skidding 1000 feet off the end of runway 14 at Beale on 10 October 1968. The takeoff was aborted when a wheel assembly failed. Major James A. Kogler was ordered to eject, but pilot Major Gabriel Kardong elected to stay with the aircraft. Both officers survived.

64-17978 (SR-71A) Nicknamed the "Rapid Rabbit", this aircraft was written off on 20 July 1972 during the roll out phase of its landing. The pilot, Captain Dennis K. Bush, had practiced a rapid deploy-jettison of the braking parachute. A go-around was initiated after the chute was jettisoned. On the next landing attempt, the aircraft touched down slightly "hot" but had no chute to reduce the aircraft's speed. The pilot was unable to keep the plane on the runway. A wheel truck hit a concrete barrier. The aircraft suffered significant damage. The pilot and the RSO, Captian James W. Fagg escaped without injury.

A total of 20 Lockheed Blackbirds have been lost due to a variety of accidents; however, not one was shot down by unfriendly forces!

Broken down by type:











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