XH558 - was Re: using new technology etc
jws at jwsss.com
Thu Jan 1 12:02:16 CST 1970
On 6/19/2015 4:24 AM, Christian Gauger-Cosgrove wrote:
> I don't think any of the SR-71s do flying demos, do they?
NASA attempted to keep one airframe (don't recall which one) flying for
research. The effort didn't last long, however.
I got involved in an interesting way. A friend who sold tape drive
parts for Kennedy and for CDC as well as SCSI drives of various types
had a company called Fintec in Laguna Hills, Ca. Right off the approach
to El Toro which was still flying, FWIW. Visits were always great when
the Marines were flying.
Anyway, he specialized later to try to keep a business going as the
drive business wound down selling various adapters. One he had come
across was a device made in Great Britain which would present a
formatted Pertec tape interface to a host and allow one to run a SCSI
drive on the other side.
He had gotten a call for an application which puzzled him, as he didn't
know a lot beyond the basics, so I got invited to a meeting with his
potential client. Turned out that a fellow in a white shirt and tie,
missing only the pocket protector showed up and was from a firm in Burbank.
the SR71 turns out didn't have a lot of gear on board to tell directly
where it had been other than basic instruments, and what it did was
record a lot of data in some onboard electronics. Once it landed from
one of its original missions you had a pile of exposed film on board,
and the information of where you'd been at mach 3 in the computer.
One of the many support systems you had to have to make an SR71 happy
was a couple of 10' or so containers. One had the gear to plug into the
airframe and transcribe the information to a tape (luckily it was a
Pertec formatted drive, or at least his customers was). Once the
information played out of the airframe and was on the tape, the tape was
taken to a Vac 7xx of some sort in the other container which was up and
running by then, and a big pile of ADA and Fortran made a table that
made all the exposed film useful.
The proposal was to take one of my friends boards, and toss the two
containers and replace it with a Sparcbook (or whatever on that scale
Sun proposed). The entire pile of software was guaranteed by another
bidder to do the job of telling where the plane had been w/o the
original stuff, and run completely on the Sparc system. It was to be a
laptop according to the guy we talked to. The information would be
available on the flight line, rather than some time later, making it
perfect for such as NASA.
My understanding was that the format was classified, so we had also to
guarantee it would work w/o ever seeing any data.
I told my buddy @ Fintec and the gentleman from Burbank, that I'd be
glad to deliver all the boards he needed for a check ride :-)
Anyway they never ordered any product, and not that long after the
absolute last hope of them ever flying was canceled.
Also, I was told that the orders had been made to gather all the
containers of equipment I mentioned above somewhere at Edwards and
destroy it. The SR71 program was not canceled, it was destroyed with
prejudice. I think it had risen from the ashes so many times, and was
such a suck on the budgets of the involved agencies, that they wanted to
kill it with a stake thru its heart this time. Very sad.
I've probably told this in the distant past, but it is something I'd
have at least liked to turn into a visit to see one of the things while
it was operational. I also never saw one flying.
The closest I came to an aircraft in this class was an almost on a
Concorde Ticket in the late 70's when an upgrade to first class could
get you near to the Concorde fare, and then on a visit in the 90's I got
to see one take off like a rocket @ Heathrow.
Would be curious if the ones here who do tape remember doing business
with Fintec, or any of the guys who used to trade drives and repair
services. I knew a lot of them and supplied parts and help to them thru
the 70's and 80's.
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