The SR-71 “Buzzing the tower”  story you probably never heard before
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The SR-71 “Buzzing the tower” story you probably never heard before

August 31, 2019


the question is did you ever fly over
commercial airport airports that was the question from my wife yes I think it was
the 1982 or 83 Toronto airshow I was a participant and we took an sr-71 there
and it was three crew members went one crew flew it in one crew flew the second
day air show and the third crew which was myself flew just a couple of flybys
that the third day of the air show and then actually flew the aircraft back to
Beale Air Force Base and the Toronto air show is over the what does it Labor Day
weekend is it the Labor Day weekend in September what’s the first that’s Monday
yeah that that’s when they always have it and when we end it’s a holiday
weekend so when I came back into the Sacramento area and I was descending
down to land at Beale and we had a lot of fuel and we had to work on the
holiday and I said yeah I asked the backseater I said you want to make an
approach at sac Metro and he said can we do that and I said why not you can do
anything once yeah exactly so so so I on approach control I when we
got over to approach control I asked if sac Metro was available for a an
approach and they said they’d switch this over to sac Metro and they cleared
us for an approach so as we were coming down final and we had configured the
airplane with the gear down and we’re about two miles out on final I asked the
controller they switch this over to tower and I asked the tower I said would
you like a flyby down the runway or down the ramp and the guy said down the ramp when I
said okay I sucked the gear up and I pushed the power up and we started
heading towards the ramp towards the tower and as we were approaching it I
rolled the plane up away from the tower and lit the afterburners and we went
around and made a pass and the tower controller said beautiful beautiful come
back and do another one and I said I better not I’m gonna go to Beal so we
went back to Beal and we landed and as I mentioned holiday weekend and Colonel
Lonni list was the deal he was the director of flight operations the do
sorry straight blah knee straight Lonnie yeah
anyhow so he met us when we pulled in the hangar after we landed as I
mentioned that was the normal procedure and I thought well that’s nice that he
came out as I came down the ladder from the aircraft he looked at me he said
Morrie and I said yes sir he said do we have any regulations that
say we can’t make approaches at Sacramento Airport I said no sir I want
one on my desk at seven o’clock tomorrow morning now there’s a continuation to
this story I retired in 87 and flew with United Airlines when I went I had
previously flown for United I had a break in service when I went back to
United I was a 760 copilot 760 yeah Boeing 767 co-pilot and one of my that
first year in 87 I think it was either the fall of 87 or the winter of 88 right
after the new year I was flying a 767 from Washington DC to San Francisco and
an air traffic controller wanted to know if they could ride in the cockpit and
the captain of the plane signed it off they have that privilege or if they want
to do that and the aircraft normally when they do that if there’s an empty
seat somewhere the captain allows one of the flight attendants to come in an
empty seat in the back of the plane the plane was full so this young lady
was the air traffic controller she came in she’s quite attractive young lady and
the captain I was falling with was I don’t know if he’s married or not but I
know he’s a big flirt I hadn’t flown with him before so I was flying it was
my leg from DC to San Francisco you would trade offline legs in the airlines
and we’re flying and he’s just talking to her halfway across the country and at
some point he asked her how long she’d worked at San Francisco Airport and she
hadn’t been there that long she said I used to work sac Metro so this is night
I think was 1988 and I looked over my shoulder at this young lady and I said
were you working sac Metro in 1982 or whatever it was 82 or 83 and she looked
at me and she said yeah I was why do you ask and I said were you working tower
when the sr-71 buzzed it and she said oh yeah I was how did you know that and I
told her it was me and she started laughing and she said you scared the
hell out of people she said there she said there were people in the terminal
that dived to the ground they thought the airplane was going to hit the turf to come

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  1. An off-topic video that I set to NOT notify subscribers. Figured I would just hear a lot of whining. Not sure how people are finding it.

  2. Blackbird: Tower may we have permission for flyby
    Tower: Cleared for flyby
    Blackbird flys by at Mach 3
    Tower: Were waiting
    Blackbird: We just flew by
    Tower: 😮

  3. Wish I saw more military planes around only real close times is football games at Gillette stadium or one time I saw a night hawk fly right over my house

  4. SR-71 pilots were Gods among men in the world of military aviators. Only they could buzz the tower and not get grounded for it. 🙂

  5. I read a story of a SR71 crew coming out of altitude requesting flight level 600 (60,000 ft). You could almost hear the snicker from the controller saying, "copy, climb to and maintain flight level 600". "Negative", the crew replied, "we are descending to flight level 600". I'm sure it's not true but it's still pretty funny.

  6. that plane was so ahead of his time ……even by today standards is still the best , built in the 60's…………

  7. In Okinawa the SR pilots were trying to see who could take off and climb and turn before reaching the control tower. Only one pilot did this leaving skid marks across the side of the tower. (1975)

  8. I would’ve paid cash money to have seen that. I was stationed in MHAFB 1/77-1/82 and saw the SR-71 come in and out a couple of times…priceless.

  9. *Awesome* story! I *love* hearing funny stories from the military like this!
    Gee, the SR-71 really is a *beautiful* aircraft!

  10. Soon as he told her he was the one flying that SR-71 she got full on wet and she buzzed his tower all night after they landed.

  11. I remember back in about 2011 in Omaha NE I saw a huge black plane that shadowed the sunlight over me. It looked like a blackbird, looks like this but it looked triangular and flat

  12. Haze Grey. VFA-82 Vet. Any jet is memorizing to watch. Lived in the flight path of Nas Cecil Field for years. Love it

  13. I used to work underneath the flight path of Pearson national airport and the Concord would fly over us on take off.We couldn't hear them coming so everybody would dive for cover.What a rush!
    We'd run outside and watch it soar into the air.You couldn't help but smile and laugh.

  14. I lived at Beale, AFB
    During a war, my brother-in-laws squadron was returning back to England where they were based and the plane ahead of him was having trouble getting his plane to go and so, my brother-in-law stole his place in line and went ahead of him (which you aren't supposed to do but he wanted to get home to his family) and he fully expected someone to saty something to him when they returned, but no one did. His family (my sister & kids) were there to greet him and a picture of him picking up his daughter next to his plane (F-115E) made the cover of Stars & Stripes paper. May he Rest in Peace.

  15. I live in sac town and my friends neighbor was a sr 71 pilot I rode my bike up to him and asked what do you fly he was in his pilot suit and he said if I told u I have to kill you. My eyes got huge I'm sure he laffed and said I fly sr 71's I told him its my favorite and thanks for your service he said it was his pleasure. I'm sure you don't have to twist a pilots arm to get him in this badass machine cool story

  16. SR71 to 767? Damn that's like going from NASCAR to a beat up Toyota fresh out of the junkyard coughing, sputtering & wheezing worse than a sick old lady when going down the road!!!!

  17. Too bad the people dove for the deck. That must have been a spectacular site for the few who were still standing to see the Fly by.

  18. Love it! I bet that shut the captain up good and solid! 🤣
    PS – Dis you manage to get the SOP on the Colonel's desk the next morning? 😃

  19. Awesome. I was born at Cannon AFB hos[ital – The Black Birds ( all of them ) are my all time favorite Planes in the world.

  20. Back in the 60's, when I was just a kid, my Dad had procured himself a pilots license. We lived at Lake Tahoe at the time. We used to hear all kinds of stories about the crazy pilots that were in the air at the time. One of those rebel air-jockies was a fellow named Wes Stetson. At the time, he flew an old WWII plane that had been popular in the South Pacific Theater…an old Bearcat (was that the old F4?).
    At that time, he was so fickin' famous that he didn't even bother to have call letters on the side of his plane. His signature was a picture of Yogi Bear (the cartoon character) on the fuselage of his plane. He would show up at Tahoe…make a lap around the "Top of The Wheel" at Harvey's casino before touching down at the landing field. By the time he was driven back to Harvey's…his room was ready, his dinner was making it's way through the kitchen, and any and all of his needs were being met by a staff of dedicated folk that would look after any and all needs that he might require.
    Legend has it that he was, at one time, a stunt pilot that procured himself a position as something of a fearless aviator in Hollywood. If anyone has watched the movie "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World", There is a scene where there is a twin-engined something-or-another (Beechcraft maybe???) that is flown through a billboard on the side of a California highway.
    The stories that we heard was that he flew that plane at something close to 200 knots through that frame with only TWO FEET to spare (a foot on either side!).

  21. Awesome…. RC enthusiast have a term, toy grade or hobby grade aircraft. Hobby grade is pretty serious RC flying. The SR-71 is definitely hobby making fighter jets toy grade, lol

  22. Years ago I had a cheap simulation program for the SR-71. I started reading thru the code and when I saw the max speed setting I said to my brother bullshit it can go much faster than that so I modded it adding another Mach.

  23. I was a young man, working as a carpenter near Edwards afb. I was lucky enough to witness what I believe was the last b bird flight. I was standing on a new home foundation staring at the heavens and like a black dart of death, silently shot by followed by the smoothest roar. My boss, who was a real hard ass, was crying about me watching history… The only response I could muster as he threatened to fire me was, "that's nice."

  24. I was on a riding mower, mowing a field in eastern Nebraska, about 55 miles from Sac/Offut AFB (as the blackbird flies) back in 84', when an SR71 did a low level speed run right over me. It was nearing noon with hardly a cloud in the sky. All I saw was a flash of shadow whizz by me on the ground, followed seconds later by the loudest sonic boom I've ever heard. I whipped my head up in time to see a faint black horizontal slit interrupted by two fiery peach orbs of afterburner glow, disappear in the time it takes to say BlackBird….I was in basic training at Lackland AFB the following year, and went on to see things eve more jaw dropping….if that's possible.

  25. The time a Blackbird "silently" buzzed my high chool. As kid, I grew up in Rio Linda, Ca., which sits in between Sacramento Airport to the west, McClellan AFB to the east, with Beale AFB a little further to the north. It was 1986 and I was just stepping out of a classroom when something caught my eye. HOLY CRAP, IT'S AN SR-71!!! No one else knew what I was talking about. She was slipping passed the side of our school, just above the trees that lined a creek which cut through Rio Linda. Sometimes we would see Blackbirds when we visited family at Beale, and Oroville, or even in Redding, but not over Rio Linda. She stayed low, level and quiet all the way until she disappeared to the north. If you didn't catch her with your eyes, you would have never noticed her sneaking by. Im guessing she had just left McClellan, who's pattern brought aircraft right over Rio Linda (but not that low), or possibly Mather AFB further to the south. Maybe even a rare pass over the state capital, also to our south. All of which would bring her over Rio Linda on her way home to Beale. I had seen her at airshows performing fast and loud, but that low and quiet pass by was just as amazing.

  26. To be able to have flown an SR-71, done things like that and tell the stories; what a privilege. No doubt, the envy of many. Great story. 🙂

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