How fast?

In his book “Sled Driver,” SR-71 Blackbird pilot Brian Shul writes:

I’ll always remember a certain radio exchange that occurred one day as Walt (my back-seater) and I were screaming across Southern California 13 miles high. We were monitoring various radio transmissions from other aircraft as we entered Los Angeles airspace. Although they didn’t really control us, they did monitor our movement across their scope.

I heard a Cessna ask for a readout of its ground speed."90 knots" Center replied. Moments later, a Twin Beech required the same. "120 knots," Center answered. We weren’t the only ones proud of our ground speed that day as almost instantly an F-18 smugly transmitted, "Ah, Center, Dusty 52 requests ground speed readout." There was a slight pause, then the response, "525 knots on the ground, Dusty." Another silent pause.

As I was thinking to myself how ripe a situation this was, I heard a familiar click of a radio transmission coming from my back-seater. It was at that precise moment I realized Walt and I had become a real crew, for we were both thinking in unison.

"Center, Aspen 20, you got a ground speed readout for us?" There was a longer than normal pause….

"Aspen, I show 1,742 knots" (That’s about 2004.658 mph) No further inquiries were heard on that frequency.

3 Responses to How fast?

  1. Steve December 7, 2009 at 16:54 #

    I heard Brian tell this story live down at the AOPA Summit in Tampa last month. As good as it is to read, it was downright hilarious and had the whole room in tears hearing it out of his own mouth! 🙂

  2. Julien December 15, 2009 at 04:08 #

    Yes, that's a good one! The full write-up is here, it may be apocryphal but sounds true.

  3. Sylvia December 18, 2009 at 16:06 #

    HAHA, brilliant.

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