Quick Facts

Lockheed SR-71B 'Blackbird'

The World's Only Remaining B-Model Trainer

ERA: Jet Age

On loan from the National Museum of the Air Force.

Location: Flight Innovation Center

Developed out of Lockheed’s A-12 and YF-12A aircraft, the SR-71 provided 100,000 square miles of surveillance per hour of Earth’s surface from 80,000 feet. It was designed for immunity to all known/anticipated air defenses. No one could stop it due to its supersonic speeds, extreme altitudes, radar attenuating materials, and design.
Using international shell corporations, the CIA clandestinely procured titanium from the Soviet Union to build the SR-71.  Due to heightened political tensions as a result of the U-2 incident, the SR-71 never flew over the Soviet Union. But it captured sideways photos up to 400 miles along territory lines.
Skunk Works
The Skunk Works, a super-secret division of Lockheed out of Burbank, CA, built this most advanced, super-secret aircraft. Using a slide rule, Michigander Clarence Kelly Johnson designed the SR-71 to collect photographic intelligence. Sites of interest included missile and air bases.

Why is NASA painted on the tailfin?
When the SR-71 program closed in 1990, NASA jumped at the chance to borrow two SR-71A models and the Air Zoo’s model B trainer to study future supersonic and hypersonic aircraft and engines.

Travel Times

3 minutes: Kalamazoo to Chicago
One hour: New York to LA
One hour and 55 minutes: New York to London


A start cart is an external device to start an engine. To take wing, the SR-71 required two big block Buick V-8 automotive engines to start its engines. The process can be compared to the hand crank on a model T.

Each engine produces approximately 325 horsepower. Later, SR-71 Start Carts used either Buick or Chevrolet engines until they were phased out in the mid-1980s in favor of using a pneumatic (air) starter.