Growing up I had an unhealthy obsession with the SR-71 Blackbird. Something about its design was so cool to me.
The fastest jet in the world. Black. Sleek. The ability to spy on other countries. It had everything a boy could want.
I remember my brother Mick had a model of one. I’d look at it and imagine flying in that big old bird all over the world.
Kind of funny considering how much I hate to fly – oh the wonders of youth.
Until last Sunday I’m not sure the last time I’d thought of the Blackbird. I certainly have no desire to fly in one now and I don’t own any models, or really think about planes at all – except to watch the giant C-17s that circle Tacoma.
So when Veronica and I randomly decided to visit The Museum of Flight something deep in my brain jarred loose – Hey, I think they have an SR-71 Blackbird there!
I was close. The museum has an SR-71 cockpit, and also features the ultra-rare M-21 which is the SR-71s precursor.
Only two M-21s were ever built and the other one didn’t survive a crash.
Walking around the SR-71 mothership shows off its sleek design and it is easy to remember sunny (all right rainy, who am I kidding) days laying in bed and dreaming of flying the jet across the world.
The M-21 sits in the middle of the museum’s Great Gallery, a giant hall featuring 40 or so planes hanging and perched at all manner of angles.
It’s obvious that I’m not the only one who has a love affair with these planes as it is the showcase of the floor.
Only 20 of the 32 SR-71s built survive and while the Seattle museum doesn’t have a whole one, it does have the aforementioned cockpit which came from a plane that crashed in 1968.
After waiting in a rather long line, I got to fulfill a childhood dream. I wasn’t even embarrassed when I made Veronica take my picture.
The problem with childhood fantasies is they aren’t often rooted in reality – as I discovered when I had to fold my 6-foot-5 frame into the tiny cockpit.
Who needs reality, though, when you can dream, right? So while I’ll never fly in a Blackbird for real – and no one else will either, since it is decommissioned – a boy can dream for a moment.
– Craig Craker