The Blackbird's Revenge

Here is an amazing and true story from the crew of the SR-71 that arrived at RAF Greenham Common for the 1983 International Air Tattoo (IAT), Pilot: BC Thomas, RSO: John Morgan, July 1983.

"I did not fly the SR-71 out of RAF Greehnam Common. I was the "mobile control" officer when the aircraft departed and the pilot was Maj Jim Jiggens, a USAF Thunderbird pilot and formally a US Army helicopter combat pilot in Vietnam.

On the evening of the air show, women, who were protesting President Reagan's decision to station intermediate nuclear missiles in England, broke into the security cordon around the air show aircraft and threw paint on several, including this SR-71.

Owing to the unique metals associated with the SR-71, the removing of the paint required special maintenance procedures to assure that no "hot spot" would develop on subsequent flights. It was quite a hassle and we were not amused over this incident.
Jim and I planned a farewell departure for the protesters who were encamped in a squalor of tents just outside the main gate. Jim obtained clearance for a "closed pattern" and turned to a downwind leg, descended to about 100 feet above the ground, and flew directly over the protestors' encampment. It was early and probably most were asleep, but not for long. Jim was flying about 250 knots and selected afterburner in both engines as he was approaching the tents.

As the SR-71 accelerated to 350-400 knots, he pulled up and focused the plume (and noise) directly on the protesters. It was a magnificent sight. As we were leaving the base immediately after Jim's departure, the gate guard (British) said to me: "I say, that was a jolly good show, but next time, please warn me before you do it." I also had the honor to prefer charges against the women, but the British government later declined to prosecute."

BC Thomas - USAF SR-71 Driver




1 comment

  • Les Klahn

    I went to Army Flight School with Jim Jiggens, it’s fun to read an account while he was in the Air Force and to know he carried on much the same in the Army…..

Leave a comment