After several agonizingly long seconds, we made the turn and blasted toward the Mediterranean. ‘You might want to pull it back,’ Walter suggested. It was then that I noticed I still had the throttles full forward. The plane was flying a mile every 1.6 seconds, well above our Mach 3.2 limit. It was the fastest we would ever fly. I pulled the throttles to idle just south of Sicily, but we still overran the refueling tanker awaiting us over Gibraltar.
I was at Dulles International Airport the day they retired the SR-71 from active service and got a front-row seat to the 2 flyby’s that day. She was, and remains, a fearsome beauty and a testament to the men and women who worked on her. She was always way, way ahead. Even ahead of her time!