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This day in Beale History: SR-71 Blackbird arrives at Beale

Airmen prepare a SR-71 Blackbird for flight at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

Airmen prepare a SR-71 Blackbird for flight at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 Blackbird climbs skyward during a takeoff at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 Blackbird climbs skyward during a takeoff at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 pilot perpares for a flight at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 pilot perpares for a flight at Beale Air Force Base, Calif. The Blackbird arrived at Beale, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 Blackbird soars above northern California. The Blackbird arrived at Beale Air Force Base, Calif, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

A SR-71 Blackbird soars above northern California. The Blackbird arrived at Beale Air Force Base, Calif, Jan. 7, 1966. (Courtesy photo)

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.





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