SR-71 Inflight Refueling 1989
YouTube / Bill Baker
Refueling The Blackbird
There are only a few planes in existence that can still look good when being refueled in the air, including the Blackbird.
SR-71s were refueled by specialized KC-135Q tankers, modified to allow refueling at the tanker’s maximum speed with minimum flutter. The tanker’s cockpit was also rigged with a Peripheral Vision Horizon Display to give pilots subliminal cues on aircraft attitude.
It only took 90 minutes of supersonic flight to drain its fuel. That’s why SR-71s needed frequent refueling. They would also often take off with a partial fuel load to reduce stress on the tires and brakes.
Watch the SR-71 get refueled by the KC-135 over Japan in the video below!