The Blackbird family of aircraft cruise at speeds of more than Mach 3 and fly over 85,000 feet (25,500 m) in altitude. Conceived nearly 50 years ago, Blackbirds remain the fastest and highest flying air-breathing production aircraft ever built.
This M-21 is a unique variant of the A-12, the earliest Blackbird type. Built for a CIA program code-named "Tagboard," the M-21 carried unpiloted vehicles for intelligence gathering. These drones were intended for launch from the M-21 "mother ship" for flights over hostile territories. Design features of the M-21 include the second seat for the Launch Control Officer and the launch pylon on which the drone is mounted.
The Museum's M-21 was built in 1963, and is the sole surviving example of its type.
Help us preserve this historic artifact for future generations. Click here to find out about the Museum's Adopt-A-Plane program.
This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.