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This week in Beale history: SR-71 sets records

Lt. Col. Raymond E. Yeilding, SR-71 pilot, prepares for his record-breaking flight March 6, 1990. Yeilding and co-pilot Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida, completed the flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes 20 seconds averaging 2,144.83 mph at the conclusion of that flight the aircraft was turned over to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. (Courtesy photo)

Lt. Col. Raymond E. Yeilding, SR-71 pilot, prepares for his record-breaking flight March 6, 1990. Yeilding and co-pilot Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida, completed the flight from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes 20 seconds averaging 2,144.83 mph at the conclusion of that flight the aircraft was turned over to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. (Courtesy photo)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- On March 6, 1990, Lt. Col. Raymond E. Yielding and Lt. Col. Joseph T. Vida set multiple speed records flying the SR-71 serial number 64-17972 coast-to-coast in 67 minutes 53 seconds averaging 2,124.51 mph.

On that day Vida and Yielding also set the speed record from Kansas City, Mo. to Washington D.C. in 25 minutes 58 seconds averaging 2,176.08 mph and from St. Louis to Cincinnati in 8 minutes 32 seconds averaging 2,189.94 mph.

On the final flight for 972, Vida and Yielding flew from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 64 minutes 20 seconds averaging 2,144.83 mph. At the conclusion of that flight the aircraft was turned over to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The twin-engine supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft also set these speed records:

- Sept. 1, 1974, from New York to London in 1 hour 54 minutes 56 seconds averaging 1,806.96 mph.

- Sept. 13, 1974, from London to Los Angeles in 3 hours 47 minutes 39 seconds averaging 1,435.587 mph.

The Blackbird was designed by Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson and manufactured by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation as part of the Skunk Works division. It was flown at Beale from 1964 to 1990.

(Information courtesy of the National Air & Space Museum.)

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