, 2022-12-22 19:22:10,
Some kids love dinosaurs.
Since my early childhood, I’ve been obsessed with airplanes — military jets, to be specific.
My fondest childhood memories include a number of scenes from Andrews Air Force Base, just outside of Washington, D.C., where my dad and I attended air shows every summer.
If anything could awaken the imagination of a young boy, it’s the sound of an F-14 passing overhead at close to Mach 1.
No words can describe the gut-shaking experience as terror and exhilaration came together for the first time in my 6-year-old mind.
But not all the memories were quite so visceral. Those that stick with me the best, in fact, were far more discreet.
On one particular visit to Andrews AFB, I came face-to-face with a true celebrity.
Parked in a hangar all by itself was a plane so legendary I doubted it was real the first time I laid eyes on it: the SR-71 Blackbird.
Everything about it, from its shape to its color to its name, made my heart race. To this very day, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
It flew high and fast — twice as high as any airliner and faster than a rifle bullet, in fact, with a top cruising speed exceeding Mach 3.
The SR-71 still holds the coast-to-coast flight record at one hour and four minutes, but — and this is the part that will crush a young boy’s idealized image of the Blackbird — it’s actually nowhere near the fastest winged aircraft to ever take to the sky.
That honor goes to North American Aviation’s experimental X-15,…
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