Tuesday, November 20 at 11:00 p.m.
BLACKBIRD: LEGACY OF INNOVATION chronicles the development of the SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance aircraft, an icon of aviation history that fundamentally changed aerospace design and dynamics. The SR-71 was designed and built in the 1960s as a classified military project by Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Projects team (nicknamed the “Skunk Works” division), and to this day it remains the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft.
The one-hour documentary charts the establishment of the acclaimed Skunk Works group under Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, and examines the challenges and breakthroughs encountered while working on the Blackbird design. The engineering team had to not only figure out a plane material that could handle the extreme temperatures generated by airflow friction at such a high speed, but also develop an engine that could provide the necessary thrust.
The story of the SR-71 is also placed within the larger history of the CIA reconnaissance program during the Cold War.