Month: December 2014

SR-71 Blackbird.

“Everything needed to be invented.” Kelly Johnson the Designer of the SR-71 blackbird. In order to build this astounding aircraft, not only did the aircraft need to be invented, but the tools required to build it, the materials it was built out of, and the techniques of putting it together all had to be invented. Even today, Titanium is used sparingly because of the high cost involved with the material, but on the SR-71, it was constructed out of 80% titanium and the rest was custom made carbon-polymers.

The SR-71 Blackbird

Able to fly at mach 3.3, or over 2000 mph, the leading edges of the aircraft would heat up to well over 500 F due to the friction force of the air. Even the inside of the glass would get up to 250 F, so a special cooling system had to be designed.

Due to the heat that it had to endure, it could not use smooth metal sheets for the “skin” of the aircraft, as they would warp and crack. Instead, it used a corrugated skin that could expand and handle the extreme environment that it had to operate in. This meant that the panels were loose fitting on the ground, but would expand in the air once it got up to temperature. Funny enough, that meant that it leaked constantly while sitting on the ground, and required refueling immediately after take off. Especially considering the MASSIVE engines this thing had. The J58-1 engine was developed specifically for this airframe (albeit, on the A-12 oxcart version). It proved over 34,000 lbf of thrust, and it had two. Just unreal. It was designed to be able to outrun any missiles that may have been fired at it, which it did so on several occasions. It was jokingly said, that the SR-71 could fire a missile, speed up in front of the missile that it fired, back off the throttle and shoot itself down.

Dryden's SR-71B Blackbird, NASA 831, slices across the snow-covered southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California after being refueled by an Air Force tanker during a 1994 flight. SR-71B was the trainer version of the SR-71. The dual cockpit to allow the instructor to fly. Note the streaks of fuel from refueling spillage.

It flew so high, that a normal pilots mask could not provide enough oxygen to the pilot. In order to ensure the pilot would not black out flying at its operational altitude of 85,000 feet, a pressurized suit had to be developed, similar to an astronauts suit. No other aircraft has been able to surpass its altitude records. Some have hit a peak altitude of over 85,000 feet, but no other plane has ever maintained the altitude in continuous flight.

Whats even more amazing is that even though this aircraft was initially designed in the 50’s, it still holds many records for speed and altitude. It flew from LA to Washington DC in in 64 minutes. which is 2,299 miles, averaging over 2100 mph to do it. While it has since been retired, the technology that it pioneered is still being used today. Even more so, no other aircraft (except maybe the F-22, but that is debatable.) has been as game changing as this one. I truly envy anyone who gets to sit in the cockpit of this bad boy, let alone fly one at altitude.

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The best vehicles for cross country trips

Sometimes cross country driving can be a monotonous nightmare. But there are a few vehicles out there that I think would make it enjoyable rather than a nightmarish battle with bad traffic, bad weather and bad scenery, like if your driving through western Kansas for instance. Most manufacturers keep a vehicles range to about 300 miles, so fuel economy isn’t necessarily the most important thing.

First, I’d have to say the Porsche Panamera Turbo

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0-60 in 3.9 seconds and 550 hp, it would make any road trip instantly better. With one of the best interiors I have ever seen and Porsches renowned reliability, it is easily one of the best options for longer drives. The only downside is it has a price tag of $141,000, so you had better have deep pockets. But if you can afford it I don’t think you’ll mind the 18 mpg you are probably going to be getting out of its twin turbo v6.

My second choice would be the Chrysler 300c SRT8.

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With a 6.4 liter Hemi that cranks out 470 hp and 470 ft lbs, this thing is the highway missile id probably put my money on. Nothing screams fuck yeah better than these things. It also has an amazing interior, it is super comfortable, and is surprisingly quiet. The brakes are fantastic, which is a good thing because they have 4300 lbs to bring to a screeching halt if necessary.

Next would be the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit with the Eco diesel v6.

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Fully optioned, this thing will run you north of $55,000 which is a lot of money. Not to mention that in that price bracket, it has some stiff competition from some very quick sports cars and if you consider the used vehicle market, you can get some amazing vehicles. But again, with a super comfy interior and a fuel range of over 600 miles, you can spend more time getting to where your going comfortably and less time stopping.

Last choice is a curveball, but I’d have to say the Ural Patrol with sidecar.

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With a sidecar you can carry more gear with you than you could with only a couple hard cases that you strapped onto your BMW R1200 GS. You also have the benefit of 2 wheel drive to get you through the terrible road conditions you may encounter. Sure it may only have 41 hp pushing its considerable heft, but it’s a great way to get the open air experience and not have to worry about dumping it when you go farther down the trails than you should have. And for only $16,000 who doesn’t want to drive cross country on a motorcycle?