This day in Beale History: SR-71 Blackbird arrives at Beale Published Jan. 8, 2014 By Staff Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The first SR-71 Blackbird arrived at Beale Air Force Base, Jan. 7, 1966. The Blackbird was an advanced, long-range, supersonic strategic reconnaissance aircraft. SR-71 was designed to operate at high speeds and altitudes to avoid threats. If a surface-to-air missile launch was detected, the standard evasive action was simply to accelerate. It was developed in secrecy by Lockheed's Skunk Works division in Palmdale, Calif. Aerospace engineer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson was responsible for many of the aircraft's innovative concepts. The Blackbird called Beale home from Jan. 1966 to Jan. 1990.