I’ve come across today’s link a few times over the past couple years. It’s an excerpt from a book called Sled Driver by SR-71 pilot Brian Shul. The book has apparently had only very limited print runs, but you can get one here for $427.00.
One day, high above Arizona, we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was. ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 on the ground,’ ATC responded.
The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’ We did not hear another transmission on that frequency all the way to the coast.
Shul also talks about having a model plane of the SR-71 when he was younger. I too built an SR-71 model as a kid. It was the baddest dude model out of all the bad dude models.