“I tried to rotate the parachute and look in other directions. But with one hand devoted to keeping the face plate up and both hands numb from high- altitude, subfreezing temperatures, I couldn’t manipulate the risers enough to turn. Before the breakup, we’d started a turn in the New Mexico-Colorado- Oklahoma-Texas border region. The SR-71 had a turning radius of about 100 mi. at that speed and altitude, so I wasn’t even sure what state we were going to land in. But, because it was about 3:00 p.m., I was certain we would be spending the night out here.”

SR-71 Blackbird Break-up