Since 1976, the "Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird" has held the world record for the fastest ‘air-breathing manned aircraft’ with a recorded speed of 1,905.81 knots (2,193.2 mph; 3,529.6 km/h). That works out to a staggering 36.55 miles/58.83 km per minute.
The Blackbird was so fast that its strategy against surface-to-air missiles was to simply accelerate and outfly them. Below you will find an extensive gallery of this iconic aircraft along with information on the history, design and records the plane holds to this day.
The SR-71 served with the U.S. Air Force from 1964 to 1998. Of the 32 aircraft built, 12 were lost in accidents, though none to enemy action. Since 1976, it has held the world record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft.
The first flight of an SR-71 took place on 22 December 1964, at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The first SR-71 to enter service was delivered to the 4200th (later, 9th) Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, in January 1966