Screenshot: Mustard (YouTube)
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An SR-71 Blackbird could fly at 85,000 feet (over 16 miles!) and push Mach 3.3 (about 2,500 mph!). One of these majestic aircraft may have cost $300,000,000 a year to operate, but 50 years since its heyday we’re still marveling at it.

You’re probably familiar with the legendary SR-71 Blackbird and heard the story of the “ultimate ground speed check,” but this quick run thorough of the amazing SR-71’s early history from the YouTube channel Mustard is great.

While the Blackbird was built to fly faster and higher than the U2 spy plane to spy on Russia, the SR-71 still didn’t risk running right over the country. Instead, Blackbirds screamed along Russia’s coast and peered hundreds of miles inland with sideview cameras.

Even as Russian military tech improved, no Blackbird was ever shot down. Though apparently one third of America’s fleet of these planes was lost to accidents because the things were so fragile.

You can’t learn everything there is to know about America’s most famous spy plane in this short video, but it’s a pretty interesting rundown of where it came from and what it was capable of.