Sunday, May 15, 2005

The fastest jet pilot ever

Transcontinental speed record holder, retired SR-71 pilot Ed Yeilding,
showing a remarkable unconcern about whom he is photographed with
Today at church I had the pleasure to meet retired Air Force pilot Ed Yeilding, who honored us by attending before he headed home to Alabama. He said he had seen me on The O'Reilly Factor on April 4. In Nashville for a couple of days, he looked me up, which was very kind. Ed was an SR-71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance aircraft pilot for several years. When the plane was retired from service in 1998, 
... an SR-71 (972) accomplished history on a record breaking flight from Los Angeles to Washington, DC Pilot Ed Yielding [sic] and RSO Joseph T. "JT" Vida made the flight in 64 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 2,144.8 mph, setting the coast- to- coast world speed record. On that historic event, aircraft 972 was turned over to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport. [link]
Ed Yeilding, right, with co-crewman J.T. Vida
As you may imagine, it is fascinating to talk with Ed in person. There are only about 100 SR-71 pilots, according to Ed, and about that many navigators. It's a very exclusive club! Many thanks to Ed and all his comrades for their invaluable service for well over two decades of the Cold War.

Update: I like this story, too: The King of Speed, US Navy F-18 Hornet v. USAF SR-71, guess who won?