On August 26, 1981, an American reconnaissance aircraft was flying a bit too close for comfort to the contentious zone between North and South Korea. Subsequently, the plane came under threat from a missile fired from the northern side of the border; and what happened next made it into the international press.
The aircraft involved was an SR-71, known as the Blackbird – a long-range surveillance asset. At the time, it was one of the fastest planes in production, its turbojet engines capable of propelling it at two times the speed of sound. Not only that, but it was capable of flying at very high altitudes – heights not all military planes could achieve.
The story behind the SR-71, from conception to finished article, is fascinating. The Pentagon asked Lockheed for an update of the manufacturer’s iconic U-2 for use in the ever-developing Cold War. The objective: a plane that could be both fast and stealthy, with the ultimate aim of it being impossible to shoot down.