Going at Mach 3 also generated temperatures that could melt typical aluminum airframes, so the SR-71 had to be covered in titanium. However, this titanium proved tricky to handle on the assembly line.

As Lockheed Martin says on its website: “Conventional cadmium-plated steel tools, it was soon learned, embrittled the titanium on contact; so new tools were designed and fabricated—out of titanium.”


I witnessed history today. Eastern Airlines was one checkride from getting their new Part 121 Carrier Certificate when I took these photos. About half an hour later the bird, a 737-800 officially titled “Spirit of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker”, lifted into the Tallahassee skies and the company is on its way to resurrection and new life. I felt like I was looking at a beautiful piece of lost history, and I’m still not completely sure I really saw it.

The Sense of Illumination

In a frenzied swirl of unsettled air, high above Frisco, Texas, wisps of cloud move in every direction…Moisture trapped beneath that layer creates the perfect translucent canvas on which to paint the beams of light that penetrate the chaos…Passing through this space, the rays of light and mist rapidly disappear as we descend and lose our perspective on the scene.