The Wild Blue Yonder

The Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond, Virginia (adjacent to Richmond International Airport) houses over 36 different airplane frames, including a still state-of-the-art SR-71 Blackbird – the fastest spy plane ever made. It earned its nickname “Blackbird” because of how stealth and extremely quiet it was. The official speed record it holds is 2,193.13 mph, and while over 4,000 missiles were fired at the Blackbird in the 25 years it was flown, none ever hit it. The Blackbird was just too fast and its evasive tactic was just to speed up until the missile couldn’t keep up with it any longer. Other special features: the camera on the Blackbird was so advanced that when it took a photo of a car on the ground that was 80,000 feet below, the license plate would be visible in the photo (despite the plane’s speed of over 2000 mph). Also, its tires were specially designed and made with aluminum powder which rejected heat. This additive gave the tires a unique silver coloration. Ironically, construction of the plane required a large amount of titanium, so the CIA created fake companies around the world to buy metal from the USSR - the biggest supplier - and an enemy of The United States at that time. There were only 32 Blackbirds ever built. Though these awesome planes haven’t left the ground since before the turn of the century, they’re still worth all the recognition of being the fastest plane on Earth. When you visit Richmond next, be sure to go by the museum to see this astonishing airplane.