The SR-71 “Buzzing the tower” story you probably never heard before


the question is did you ever fly over
commercial airport airports that was the question from my wife yes I think it was
the 1982 or 83 Toronto airshow I was a participant and we took an sr-71 there
and it was three crew members went one crew flew it in one crew flew the second
day air show and the third crew which was myself flew just a couple of flybys
that the third day of the air show and then actually flew the aircraft back to
Beale Air Force Base and the Toronto air show is over the what does it Labor Day
weekend is it the Labor Day weekend in September what’s the first that’s Monday
yeah that that’s when they always have it and when we end it’s a holiday
weekend so when I came back into the Sacramento area and I was descending
down to land at Beale and we had a lot of fuel and we had to work on the
holiday and I said yeah I asked the backseater I said you want to make an
approach at sac Metro and he said can we do that and I said why not you can do
anything once yeah exactly so so so I on approach control I when we
got over to approach control I asked if sac Metro was available for a an
approach and they said they’d switch this over to sac Metro and they cleared
us for an approach so as we were coming down final and we had configured the
airplane with the gear down and we’re about two miles out on final I asked the
controller they switch this over to tower and I asked the tower I said would
you like a flyby down the runway or down the ramp and the guy said down the ramp when I
said okay I sucked the gear up and I pushed the power up and we started
heading towards the ramp towards the tower and as we were approaching it I
rolled the plane up away from the tower and lit the afterburners and we went
around and made a pass and the tower controller said beautiful beautiful come
back and do another one and I said I better not I’m gonna go to Beal so we
went back to Beal and we landed and as I mentioned holiday weekend and Colonel
Lonni list was the deal he was the director of flight operations the do
sorry straight blah knee straight Lonnie yeah
anyhow so he met us when we pulled in the hangar after we landed as I
mentioned that was the normal procedure and I thought well that’s nice that he
came out as I came down the ladder from the aircraft he looked at me he said
Morrie and I said yes sir he said do we have any regulations that
say we can’t make approaches at Sacramento Airport I said no sir I want
one on my desk at seven o’clock tomorrow morning now there’s a continuation to
this story I retired in 87 and flew with United Airlines when I went I had
previously flown for United I had a break in service when I went back to
United I was a 760 copilot 760 yeah Boeing 767 co-pilot and one of my that
first year in 87 I think it was either the fall of 87 or the winter of 88 right
after the new year I was flying a 767 from Washington DC to San Francisco and
an air traffic controller wanted to know if they could ride in the cockpit and
the captain of the plane signed it off they have that privilege or if they want
to do that and the aircraft normally when they do that if there’s an empty
seat somewhere the captain allows one of the flight attendants to come in an
empty seat in the back of the plane the plane was full so this young lady
was the air traffic controller she came in she’s quite attractive young lady and
the captain I was falling with was I don’t know if he’s married or not but I
know he’s a big flirt I hadn’t flown with him before so I was flying it was
my leg from DC to San Francisco you would trade offline legs in the airlines
and we’re flying and he’s just talking to her halfway across the country and at
some point he asked her how long she’d worked at San Francisco Airport and she
hadn’t been there that long she said I used to work sac Metro so this is night
I think was 1988 and I looked over my shoulder at this young lady and I said
were you working sac Metro in 1982 or whatever it was 82 or 83 and she looked
at me and she said yeah I was why do you ask and I said were you working tower
when the sr-71 buzzed it and she said oh yeah I was how did you know that and I
told her it was me and she started laughing and she said you scared the
hell out of people she said there she said there were people in the terminal
that dived to the ground they thought the airplane was going to hit the turf to come


63 Responses


    September 10, 2018 11:34 pm

    An off-topic video that I set to NOT notify subscribers. Figured I would just hear a lot of whining. Not sure how people are finding it.

  2. John S

    September 7, 2019 8:55 am

    What a cool guy Maury Rosenberg is, great story and great sense of humor. At the time of the flyby I was working for a bay area police department and one of my fellow LEOs used to be an SR71 mechanic stationed at Beale. He was working for the PD in 1982 so he missed the fun of the flyby. I heard of a similar story, but "slightly" different from a guy I knew who worked as an air traffic controller at Moffet Field in Mt. View, Ca. He told me of a surprise flyby buzz job by an F105 pilot who came out of nowhere and really was on the coals when he flew low and close by the tower. An officer on duty in the tower tried to raise the errant jet pilot a few times by demanding his identity and I believe he also wanted his tail number. According to the guy telling the story, the pilot responded with, "wouldn't you like to know" and simply flew off into the wild blue yonder. I'm guessing this happened in the 50s or maybe early 60s and unfortunately, I can't remember if the military ever caught up with the pilot or not. I hope he got away with it.

  3. Rick Daystar

    September 9, 2019 1:09 am

    The Canadian National Exhibition every year. I was at the air show and watched the SR71 do a fly-by. It was LOUD AS HELL! After the flyover in Toronto they kept radio communication open to the public address system and we could hear his position minutes over Detroit at speed! Awesome experience.

  4. Youll Never Know

    September 9, 2019 4:10 pm

    We Americans cant build quality cars but we can build some amazing aircraft, wonder what would happen to the Japanese if they took their most talented car engineers and had them building aircraft, the cars would then probably be worse than American cars quality.

  5. kekke2000

    September 10, 2019 8:57 pm

    This beats any fiction honestly. Real stories from real pilots. Sully is the tip of the Iceberg that everyone can see, but there are so many interesting stories below.

  6. Ian Anderson

    September 11, 2019 7:00 am

    I'm an Aussie . Years ago I had the pleasure of visiting March AFB in Cal and looked over the SR71 on the hardstand. Along with several other legends . Man that is one sexy plane . The damn thing looked like it was movin fast just sitting there . A bubble thought arose at the time. The Yanks were so little concerned about military secrets of the SR71 they just had their notices up re insurance disclaimers . They clearly had back then or earlier way more capable and high tech craft they didn't give a damn. Even now in 2019 there is unlikely to be any country on this planet that could reproduce this aircraft designed in the 60s? for God's sake. Take home message? Don't piss off the USA.

  7. tonyz97

    September 12, 2019 7:08 pm

    I live 15 minutes away from Sacramento airport, I watch planes land there all the time. Wish I was there when this happened

  8. James Maxwell

    September 13, 2019 4:09 pm

    The first time I saw and SR-71 was in 1968 as I was leaving Vietnam and landing at Okinawa. The pilot announced that
    if we looked out the Port window we would see a rare sight. It was an SR-71 landing ahead of us. By the time we
    touched down it was gone and out of sight? About and hour later as we were preparing to reboard our bird
    for the states We heard what sounded like an explosion at the end of the terminal. I looked up and saw hanger
    doors opening an the SR-71 roll out. As soon as he turned onto the runway he lit the burners and the SR-71
    was hauling ass down the strip and lifted off almost vertical. It was one of the most beautiful sights I had seen
    at the time. I had read about the YF-12A project in Popular Science earlier in 62 or 63 but never heard anything
    else until I was stationed in Vietnam and found out they were doing overflights to survey the area.

  9. Lord of the Wood

    September 13, 2019 6:32 pm

    Designed with pencil and paper…

    Now, we have "engineers" working with super-computers running AutoCad who couldn't design the pencil and paper.

  10. mattcolver1

    September 13, 2019 7:45 pm

    I was returning a rental car to the outside parking at Colorado Springs airport. Colorado Springs airport is next to Peterson Air Force base. 
    Just then a B1 Bomber from Peterson hit the after burners and went straight up. It was so loud I almost dove for the ground. I never heard anything so loud in my life.

  11. Garry Perrin

    September 14, 2019 12:11 am

    I doubt this. I laughed and smiled too. I believe he told a much taller one about a low cloud circular approach over a kids school. Years later, he talked to one of the kids. Now that was unforgettable. I didn't say unforgivable. 👍🏼

  12. MrAcuta73

    September 14, 2019 5:37 am

    What an awesome story! My only SR-71 story is second-hand. Old friend of the family was an F-111 wrench out of Mountain Home. Had a day they locked down the base, had an SR-71 land, go straight to a hangar, stay there for a number of hours, then come out of the hangar at damn-near WOT and went vertical directly after. He never knew what/why, but said it was one Hell of show.

  13. John Lysic

    September 15, 2019 10:25 pm

    When I was stationed in Okinawa the SR-71 there would pull out of the hanger and line up on the runway – The Okinawan drivers would pull over on the highway with their cameras. They just loved that airplane. Every toy store carried models of it. The local name for the SR-71 was the “Habu” which is a venomous snake to watch out for in Okinawa. Amazing to watch it take off and land – so very cool

  14. mrmactknife

    September 16, 2019 1:03 am

    The end of the story was awesome. I hope Maury ended up getting the pretty air traffic controller's number instead of the captain haha

  15. nkogliaz

    September 16, 2019 10:36 am

    The definition of 'cockblock'.

    I saw the SR71 do a couple passes and land at Wright Patterson AFB back in April in 91' I believe it was (I was only ten years old at the time…), it's now on display inside at the USAF Museum, to see one of these birds in the air after spending a great deal of my childhood fantasizing about them, is still one of the most righteous things I've ever experienced, RIP Kelly Johnson.

  16. Angery Man

    September 16, 2019 9:33 pm

    What’s so special about this conversation it’s just a guy driving an weird looking plane, and what’s the ramp?

  17. Sam Loveless

    September 17, 2019 10:02 pm

    It will be a sad day when the last SR 71 Pilots have passed away, it will truly be the end of an era, and all of these great stories will be all that we have left!

  18. Gordanovich02

    September 18, 2019 12:05 am

    Seattle Museum of Flight has a cockpit section of one, and you can sit in it.

    Instantly seven years old again.

  19. J MAC

    September 18, 2019 6:30 pm

    Super cool man. You could make a second channel for all this cool stuff your into. Like the space stuff and planes. I'm pretty sure we are the same person

  20. mark renton

    September 22, 2019 1:43 am

    Before 9/ 11 my friend and I went to the Rockford Illinois airport to see the planes come in before their air show, we arrived just in time to see a B-52 come in first over the runway to simulate a low speed bomb run with bomb bay doors open then he landed.Well , my friend and I were standing next to the gate as the crew were walking towards us; I overheard one say to the other " I think he jumped" that piqued my interest and I asked him what he meant , he went on to say, they were doing a simulated low altitude bombing run over a lake in Arkansas and some guy was fishing in a small boat and the plane passed over head and he jump in the lake.


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