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March 09, 2008

Ground speed check

Major Brian Shul flew the SR-71 (via Instapundit).

One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. 'Ninety knots,' ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. 'One-twenty on the ground,' was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was 'Dusty 52, we show you at 525 on the ground,' ATC responded. The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter's mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, 'Aspen 20, I show you at 1,742 knots on the ground.' We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at March 9, 2008 11:29 AM


I love that story. Still, "all the way to the coast" doesn't take long at 1700 knots!

Posted by: Dan [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2008 04:02 PM

I have a problem with at least one aspect of this story. The guy provides an anecdote about giving up on building a model of the SR-71 "when I was 10 years old" The next paragraph, he says, Twenty-nine years later, I stood awe-struck" when he first saw one. Now, if we assume the first real one he saw was the one he piloted over Libya in April, 1986, then he would have been building a model of an SR-71 in 1957.

I'm not saying the guy is a liar. He is a USAF fighter pilot who flew the SR. I just think maybe he's misremembering his childhood.

Perhaps this is a similar misremembering to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who claimed to have been named after Sir Edmund Hillary who was an unknown Kiwi beekeeper who wouldn't climb Everest for another 6 years after she was born..

Posted by: dpatten [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 9, 2008 07:39 PM

This story is popping up all over the dextrosphere... have to do some poking around. A lot of us might have got suckered.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 07:10 AM

If you read through the comments at Maggie's it seems the guy is authentic... published a couple of books etc.

Posted by: Luther McLeod [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 03:20 PM

I'm not questioning his flying of the SR-71. I'm just pointing out a logical inconsistency in the story.

Posted by: dpatten [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 10, 2008 05:10 PM