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Captain Jerry Ward, the Blackbird at GSB
Posted by: Don Shanks (Moderator)
Date: November 21, 2008 02:30AM

Another great story from my email INBOX that needs sharing. This one from Capt Jerry Ward to Ronnie Macklin - another GSB story.
Don Shanks

Ron,

After watching this great tribute to the SR-71, I must relate a much less exciting experience that I had with this outstanding aircraft.

Piedmont had a very small terminal, located at the end of a narrow taxiway, next to a graveyard, that extended from the run-up pad of runway 26. I do not remember the time or year, I believe it was about 1972, but I do have vivid memory of the SR-71 that we encountered that day.

After taxiing past the graveyard and approaching the run-up pad, we were told to hold for a priority departure. The blackbird was still short of the runway completing his pre takeoff checklist, with a fuel truck still connected. Fuel was pouring out of the airplane and running onto the ramp. The truck disconnected and the tower gave the Blackbird T/O clearance. He taxied onto the runway, immediately went into afterburner, after a surprisingly short run - he lifted into the air. As I best remember his initial angle of climb was (a guess) about thirty degrees, and immediately increased to about 45 degrees. He was out of sight within less than a minute, again that is thru the fog of time, but I don't believe I'm too far off. That was the most amazing show of brute power that I've ever seen.

I'm told that a tanker is on station, close-by the takeoff airport, because he will shortly run out of fuel after one of those amazing takeoffs.

Anyway, That was my experience watching the SR-71. She was indeed amazing.

Jerry

PS. I'll never forget that graveyard. I was not particularly fond of going into GSB, because the largest tombstone there had the name "WARD" on it.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/21/2008 02:34AM by Don Shanks.

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