SR-71 Inflight Refueling 1989

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SR-71 Inflight Refueling 1989 | World War Wings Videos

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!

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