In 1956, the U.S. Air Force had a big problem. The high-flying, camera-equipped U-2 spy plane had flown for the first time just a year earlier. But as America’s main strategic reconnaissance aircraft, the subsonic U-2 was already obsolete.
The Air Force’s solution was to develop a new spy plane. The resulting Blackbird more than matched the U-2’s impressive high-altitude performance and added the ability to fly at three times the speed of sound.