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Dr. Bob Abernethy
Manager of Reliability and Safety (Retired)
Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, Inc.
Dr. Abernethy is the inventor of the dual cycle engines that power the Blackbirds. He will tell us stories about engineering in the fifties and sixties including the development of the aircraft engines that powered the reconnaissance aircraft of the cold war. The aircraft will include the U2, the YF12, A12, CL400 and the SR-71. The Lockheed Blackbird, SR-71, still holds all seventeen world speed and altitude records even though it was designed forty eight years ago.
I was flying the SR-71 out of RAF Mildenhall, England, with my back-seater, Walt Watson; we were returning from a mission over Europe and the Iron Curtain when we received a radio transmission from home base. As we scooted across Denmark in three minutes, we learned that a small RAF base in the English countryside had requested an SR-71 flypast. The air cadet commander there was a former Blackbird pilot, and thought it would be a motivating moment for the young lads to see the mighty SR-71 perform a low approach. No problem, we were happy to do it. After a quick aerial refueling over the North Sea, we proceeded to find the small airfield.