Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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SR-71 Tourism/Goodwill

SR-71 "Voyage to Space" Tours!
  [vote for,

Who doesn't love the SR-71 Blackbird? Probably the finest airplane ever concieved, built or flown. But what good are they now that all the snooping business is taken up by the "eye in the sky"? ANSWER: Create a Clear-Bubble-Domed version of the SR-71, painted United Nations (or Nasa, if you prefer) blue and white. Imagine the "Swords into Plowshares" spin as we choose twenty lucky people from all reaches of America to ride into the stratosphere. Travelling at speeds in excess of 2000 mph, they will see the sky approach a color of indigo as it fades toward black space. They will race the sun itself across the globe and reach the horizon ahead of it. Touching down again, they feel that they are part of something larger. That perhaps the military can also be seen as benevolent and progressive. QUESTION: Would the tax expenditure to fly an SR-71 each month be worth this wonderful PR?
automator64, Apr 11 2003

More SR-71 http://www.wvi.com/~lelandh/sr-71~1.htm
[phoenix, Oct 04 2004]

you just cannot resist watching whenever this beauty flies overhead http://www.flyandri...images/concorde.JPG
so sad that its being retired! [po, Oct 04 2004]

SR-71 Images [NASA Logo] http://www.sr-71.or.../17956/17956-01.htm
I guess this is as close as we'll come. Not very friendly looking. [automator64, Oct 04 2004]

The X-33 Lander - No substitute! http://www.area51zo.../aircraft/x33.shtml
[automator64, Oct 04 2004]

SR-71 ? http://www.sr-71.net/
[Laughs Last, Oct 04 2004]


       Being that I didn't even know the SR-71 existed until I read your idea, I can safely say that I don't love the SR-71 Blackbird. It's quite impressive, granted, but hey, it's just a 'plane.
Why are you painting it in UN* colours if only Americans are allowed to ride?

       [* Originally typed "UB colours". That's a little worrying.]
my face your, Apr 11 2003

       The craft serves a much better PR tool for the UN because "swords into plowshares" is ostensibly one of the underlying (and tangibly displayed) premises of the UN. The Nasa logo looks much cooler, tho'. I'd say that all citizens of the world should be welcomed to ride.
automator64, Apr 11 2003

       How can you not know about the SR-71? It's America's premier spy plane - everyone knows about it.   

       Flys so fast its titanium skin glows red. And it's put together so loosely (because its parts expand in flight) that it leaks fuel like a sieve prior to takeoff.
phoenix, Apr 11 2003

       Those who beat their swords to ploughshares, plow for those who don't.
supercat, Apr 11 2003

       I've always loved the 'Bird. I caught sight of one of the last flights of an SR-71 being retired at the Oshkosh Wisconson Fly-In back in the early nineties. (or maybe it was the late 80's).
RayfordSteele, Apr 11 2003

       I saw several SR-71's in person at Beale AFB in northern CA back when it was still in official service. I saw the A and the B. Flying and in the hangar. I didn't really know what I was seeing at the time, but it was impressive enough that I remembered it.
half, Apr 11 2003

       Rumor has it they're back in service. Not all of them, just a few. As for the modifications, they're not really vital, it's a hell of a ride regardless. Supposedly, you can see a fireball outside the window sometimes the same way a re-entering astronaut does. The paint scheme would look pretty, but it's black for a reason- it radiates more heat that way. If you paint it something other than black, and a very special black at that, it will go on fire. Still, I love that plane, by extension this idea, and will vote for it.
Madcat, Apr 11 2003

       COMMENTS: Surely the coloring issue could be tackled without much difficulty. My question, though, is larger; I suppose my private conclusion is that if the military does _not_ promote programs like this and attempt to sell them to the US taxpayer, the idea of a "Military Industrial Complex Conspiracy" is inevitable. One seems to divorce the machine from its intended purpose when marvelling over old warplanes or tanks, as some of us do. PRETTY-SURE-FACT: The Blackbird is the only American military plane in which no crewman has ever been lost. It is _practically_ benign if not _eventually_ benign in that it has no weaponry. It seems the perfect flagbearer for a truth; namely that even machines created with the eventual goal of human suffering (people get killed due to the SR-71's job of survelliance) can bring a value after that intended purpose (a certain amount of civilians being amazed at the sights they'd see, with perhaps life-changing results).
automator64, Apr 12 2003

       A D-21 drone launch control officer was killed in the A-12 version of the Blackbird when the drone accidently struck the back of the cockpit. The aircraft was also lost but the pilot ejected to safety. The drone program was cancelled after that.
bristolz, Apr 12 2003

       I read somewhere that the Blackbird was originally designated "RS-71", but some president (Johnson?) got the name wrong when unveiling it, and to avoid embarrassing him, Lockheed changed the name.
angel, Apr 12 2003

       I'm amazed that anyone would be amazed that I didn't know of the existence of a particular type of 'plane.
my face your, Apr 12 2003

       Alright now. The SR-71 was conceived as a top secret project. Anyone who talkes to [my face your] about it will have their security clearance permanently revoked.   

       And while the Blackbird is a wondrous feat of engineering, even by today's standards, it did enter service in 1966. I'm pretty sure that there are things flying around these days that make the SR-71 seem like a Cessna.   

       Aurora, anyone?
Guncrazy, Apr 12 2003

       guncrazy said: "while the Blackbird is a wondrous feat of engineering, even by today's standards, it did enter service in 1966. I'm pretty sure that there are things flying around these days that make the SR-71 seem like a Cessna." --This is precisely why the Blackbird is such an amazing plane, the design is so over the top that it could only have been concieved in the American post-war 50's. The plane was a saturn rocket that flew sideways. We all may have the fantasy that one day our grandkids will experience space-travel, but in fact space travel is too risky, disorienting, costly and just plain anti-climactic for the average civilian. Especially when one considers the prep-time. Extreme speed, however, and the exhilaration of the upper atmosphere, will be as close to space as any of us could come. We could, in that moment, percieve some of what space is like. It'd be worth a whole year's tax dollars, for me. Which is under 50,000 this time around(well). I mean, let's do the numbers. How much would you pay, and how much would it cost? Or are the physical limitations of that plane just not condicive to passengers? Hell, they built the drone to sit on top, why couldn't it hold passengers? Why must the technology rot while the rest of us wonder about space and squint at the latest hubble pictures? Oh, and as for the new shuttle/orbiter, I think it looks like a bloated soft taco, so that's not even to be discussed.
automator64, Apr 13 2003

       Had the opportunity to wander around the SR-71C over the weekend with the kids. I understand that it was decommisioned in such a way that it would be possible to restore it to flying condition.   

       I don't think it's much of a sightseeing craft - the windows are small, aimed the wrong way, and get hot enough you can't get close to them. (Window integrity is one of the main design speed limitations.) Not to mention that a hard afterburner light can yaw it hard enough to give you a concussion.   

       //a very special black// - officially, it's blue. (looks black to me, too)
lurch, Apr 13 2003

       On that plane, violent yaw is more commonly a result of sudden decreases in thrust caused by inlet unstart, or shock expulsion, events in supersonic flight and not by afterburner thrust.
bristolz, Apr 13 2003

       [automator] Shirley my name's not Surely.   

       Where might I find a picture of the new shuttle/orbiter?
galukalock, Apr 13 2003

       How fast can we tally up the 14 gallons per second of fuel that the Blackbird leaks on the tarmac prior to takeoff? Should we also consider that the Blackbird needs to be flown fast enough to expand its structural components to 'fit' prior to an aerial re-fueling before it can really *go* anywhere? This sounds somewhat doable, but *very, very* costly.
X2Entendre, Apr 13 2003

       It does "leak"... but 14 gal/sec is not a "leak". I think that figure is a tad high.
lurch, Apr 13 2003

       Old sign over the SR-71 briefing room: "You've never been lost until your lost at Mach 3." Amazingly, it was designed back in the fifties, no telling what's on the drawing boards now.
ty6, Apr 14 2003

       why do you think that they are obsolete? just because you never hear about them doing stuff? Its top secret shtuff! of course they are still using it.
davidcreede, Jul 21 2003

       Unh-uh. Nope... It's black because it radiates more heat. It flies high enough that you can't really see it anyway.
Madcat, Oct 30 2003

       Was this called Bluebird at some point.
sufc, Oct 30 2003

       ...this was fixed by an improved engine control system.   

       Any there are plenty of surveillance craft flying around at speeds that make the SR-71 look like a Cessna. Their speed is incredible, their endurance almost indefinite, and the quality and immediacy of their data is as much as any commander could want.   

       They're satellites. That's why we no longer use strategic reconnaissance aircraft like the Blackbird.
david_scothern, Sep 20 2008

       "in fact space travel is too risky, disorienting, costly and just plain anti-climactic for the average civilian"   

       The same thing was said about traveling by train.
normzone, Sep 21 2008


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