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Head of Zeus
Blackbird: The Story of the Lockheed SR-71 Spy Plane James Hamilton-Paterson

The American 'spy' aircraft, the SR-71 'Blackbird' was deliberately designed to be the world's fastest and highest-flying aircraft and has never been approached since. It was conceived in the late 1950s by Lockheed Martin's highly secret 'Skunk Works' team under one of the most (possibly the most) brilliant aero designers of all time, Clarence 'Kelly' Johnson.

Once fully developed in around 1963/4 the Blackbird represented the apogee of jet-powered flight. It could fly at well over three times the speed of sound above 85,000 feet and had an unrefuelled range of 3,200 nautical miles. It flew with great success until 1998 (with NASA 1999). Despite extensive use over Vietnam and later battlefields none was ever shot down (unlike the U2 in the Gary Powers incident). The Blackbird's capabilities seem unlikely ever to be exceeded.

It was retired because its job could be done by satellites, and in today's steady trend towards unmanned military aircraft it is improbable that anyone will ever again need to design a jet aircraft capable of such speed.

Head of Zeus * Politics, Economics and Society
01 Jun 2017 * 192pp * £8.99 * 9781786691194
'Hamilton-Paterson has crafted an honest and loving tribute to the Blackbird'
Boney Abroad
'Hamilton-Paterson has managed to bring us a distilled history of an aircraft that is eminently readable and full of details and anecdotes on the development and challenges of the creation of this aircraft too'
Nudge Book
'A reasonably fast read and puts over the information well enabling you to digest a lot of information ... I suspect many of you will add this book to your collection'
SF Crow's Nest
'A brilliant story of Cold War aviation history'
The Armourer
'A neat, small hardback with lots of photos and diagrams'
Military History Monthly
James Hamilton-Paterson
James Hamilton-Paterson
James Hamilton-Paterson is a novelist and non-fiction writer whose books defy easy categorisation. Gerontius won the Whitbread Prize; Cooking with Fernet Branca was longlisted for the Booker Prize. His acclaimed books on the oceans, including Seven-Tenths, have been widely translated, and his books about aviation have set new standards for writing about aircraft.
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