Join us for a special USSRC Pass the Torch series on the last USAF flight of the SR-71 (#972) with its pilot, Lt. Col. Ed Yielding, USAF, Ret. The event will take place on Thursday, October 6 at 5:30 pm at USSRC National Geographic Theater. Lt. Col. Yielding is a Florence, Alabama-native, who set the official coast-to-coast aircraft speed record on that last SR-71 flight.

SR-71 #972 (tail number 64-17972) was officially retired from the US Air Force on March 6, 1990. On that last flight, she flew across the USA setting four speed records and landed at Dulles Field in Washington D.C. The aircraft is currently on display at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. Yeilding and Reconnaissance Systems Officer J.T. Vida flew from Los Angeles to Washington, DC in 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds, reaching speeds up to 2,144 mph and an altitude over 83,000 feet.

Besides its combat capability, the Blackbird was also an excellent research aircraft. NASA operated both YF-12 and SR-71 aircraft for experimental work, having obtained two SR-71As and an SR-71B trainer as supersonic test platforms. NASA's use of the SR-71 sustained it operationally until the Congress provided the Air Force $100 million in the fiscal year 1995 defense budget to bring three SR-71s back to operational use. The first of three reactivated SR-71s returned to the Air Force after extensive refurbishment on 28 June 1995 as Detachment 2 at Edwards AFB, California. The aircraft were being modified with datalinks when the Air Force program was defunded in October 1997. The last flight of an SR-71 (NASA Serial Number 844) occurred on 9 October 1999 at the Edwards AFB Airshow. -

There will be a social at outside the theater, underneath the Saturn V, where USSRC's Biergarden takes place.