SR-71, Technology of Mach 3+ (RAeS Cambridge)

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Technical lecture
14 September 2017 19:00 - 21:00
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Col. Richard Graham USAF (Ret.) will present a talk on the technology that enabled the SR-71 to travel at speeds of Mach 3+.

The world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft was conceived as early as 1958 by the renowned aircraft engineer, Kelly Johnson. The gigantic leap in technology he and his engineers had to overcome at the Lockheed “Skunk Works” was phenomenal. Built in total secrecy, the first Blackbird flew on April 26, 1962. The Blackbird’s only purpose was to gather highly classified intelligence on hostile countries around the world. Flying at Mach 3+ speeds and cruising at over 85,000 feet, the SR-71 could survey over 100,000 square miles every hour, gathering millions of bits of intelligence. When cruising at over 2,200 mph, with skin friction temperatures reaching 600 degrees F, the SR-71 performed at its very best.

From 1967 to 1990, the SR-71 served seven U.S. Presidents, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon and other government agencies. It provided them with the necessary intelligence to make crucial political and military decisions during the Cold War era.


Date: Thursday 14 September 2017

Time: Refreshments served from 7.00pm. Talk starts at 7.30pm. Ends around 9.00pm following discussion.

Venue: Lecture Theatre 1, Cambridge University Engineering Department, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ (directions).

Parking: There is limited parking available at the front of the site. There are further parking places at the rear.

Visitors welcome. Booking not required. RAeS members, students and young people free. Visitors (including IMechE members) who are not members of the RAeS will be invited to make a £5 donation.

A poster for this event can be downloaded here.

This event is organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society Cambridge branch. Please see RAeS website for information:


Engineering Department, Cambridge University
Trumpington Street
United Kingdom

Contact Details

Aaron Burns

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Alternative contact IMechE Cambs Events Secretary

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