posted on Sep, 1 2013 @ 09:25 PM
A little more of the story of the Blackbird during the Yom Kippur War has come to the light of day. Col. Jim Wilson has recounted the story of his
mission over the Middle East in 1973. During the Yom Kippur War Blackbirds were eventually used to give photographic intelligence to both the Israeli
and Egyptian governments.
The initial losses by the Israeli forces were staggering, and American satellites coudn't get the intelligence fast enough, so the decision was made
to launch SR-71s from New York, and recover in Great Britain after the mission ended. When the UK government was approached they immediately said no.
So the Air Force was forced to alter the mission to launch from Griffis AFB in New York, and recover to Seymour Johnson in North Carolina, where the
film canister would be put on a courier plane to Washington for processing and analysis.
Col. Wilson was backup for three flights, before flying his first mission, after more flights were added. The flight required five refuelings from 16
Col. Wilson's mission launched at 2am on a moonless night. He flew the first 450 miles subsonic to clear the jetways, and refuel. After refueling
(3500 gallons [71,000 pounds] from three tankers), he cruised across the Atlantic at Mach 3, until just short of the Azores, where he took on another
5,000 gallons from 2 more tankers (68,000 pounds). The third refueling took place short of Crete in bad weather.
Upon accelerating and heading towards Israel, the low oil pressure light lit up steady red. The only place for an emergency landing was Tel Aviv,
which was the last place they could land. Upon pulling the throttles back, the light went out. He pushed the throttles back up, and after a few
seconds the light went out again.
The rest can be read at the source. It makes for a very interesting read.
The following story, that has been circulating on mailing lists and forums for a few days, recalls secret mission by a U.S. Air Force SR-71 during
the Yom Kippur War in 1973. It was written by Col. Jim Wilson, a former Blackbird pilot who has written a self-biography titled “SR-71 Mission to
the Middle East”.
I found it extremely interesting because it recounts strategic range spy missions over the Middle East; something that is quite current, considered
the tensions in Syria and the risk of an eventual U.S. attack on Damascus Chemical Weapons arsenal.
I’ve slightly modified the piece (that may be a book’s teaser), to make it shorter than the version received via email.
Egypt and Syria opened an offensive against Israel [in late '73] and launched a coordinated series of air, armored and artillery attacks into the
Sinai and Golan Heights.
[...] The initial Israeli military losses were significant. And the Israeli’s reaction included an urgent call for assistance from the United
At that time, our reconnaissance satellites in space didn’t have the capability to provide Israel with the immediate and adequate intelligence
necessary to assess and defend against the enemy.
So we prepared SR-71 Blackbird missions to zoom over the active battlefields then recover in Great Britain.
The mission fell within the Blackbird’s capabilities although such a logistically difficult and long mission had never previously been
[...] The English instantly refused any Blackbird post-mission recoveries in England.
So Plan B was quickly drawn up fly the SR-71 out of upstate New York and recover at Seymour-Johnson, North Carolina.