Watch This In-Depth Tour of the SR-71 Blackbird's Jet Engine

The Pratt & Whitney J58 required two Buick V8s just to crank it over.

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The Pratt & Whitney J58 - The Engine of the SR-71 Blackbird

The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird is widely known as the fastest plane to ever take to the sky. It set a ground speed record of 2,193.2 mph all the way back in July of 1976. That may not even be its true top speed: Another Blackbird pilot claimed to hit Mach 3.5 (or nearly 2,700 mph) in April of 1986. Regardless of the record, it’s indisputably the fastest plane in existence… ever… in the world… of all time… for now.

Power was provided by two Pratt & Whitney J58 jet engines. At full tilt it could produce up to 25,500 pounds of force. It was – and still is – a behemoth. To give you a reference for how big and powerful this jet engine was, starting it up required a special cart with two Buick V8 engines to crank it. That’s actual insanity.

Anyway, I’m not doing justice to this piece of engineering. If you have the time, I implore you to watch this video from the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It features a former Blackbird crew chief going into all sorts of detail about the J58. It’s well worth your time. Sit back and enjoy. I know I did.