Aviation | Bye-Bye Blackbird:

In 26 years as the nation's swiftest and highest-flying reconnaissance planes, SR-71 Blackbirds detected China's first atomic test in 1964 and snapped photos of Tehran detailed enough to encourage Jimmy Carter to order his hostage rescue attempt in 1980. Flying at more than 100,000 ft. at speeds exceeding 2,000 m.p.h. they evaded more than 1,000 surface-to-air missiles launched to shoot them down. But last week the SR-71s were finally grounded by Pentagon cost cutters who believe spy satellites made the planes obsolete.

The Air Force bid a fitting farewell to the planes. After a running start over the Pacific, an SR-71...

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