See inside the SR-71 cockpit; learn about the U-2, former reconnaissance satellites and more during 'Secrets Revealed' event March 7-8 at National Museum USAF

  • Published
  • By Rob Bardua
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Learn about the Air Force’s perspective on the SR-71 “Blackbird,” U-2 “Dragon Lady,” Hexagon and Gambit reconnaissance satellites, and more during an event titled “Secrets Revealed,” March 7-8 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The event, which is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 pm on March 7, and from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on March 8, will offer museum visitors a unique opportunity to look inside the SR-71 cockpit, learn about the U-2, meet more than 20 former SR-71 and U-2 pilots and crew members, and see a special display of rarely seen artifacts from the museum’s collections and archives.

Former SR-71 pilots and crew members will be stationed at the aircraft located in the third building throughout the event to discuss their experiences, and will participate in panel discussions in the museum’s Carney Auditorium on March 7 at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and on March 8 at 1 p.m.

Also, former Blackbird pilot Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jerry Glasser and Reconnaissance Systems officer Col. (Ret.) John Manzi will narrate a live presentation of their 360 degree SR-71 cockpit tour on March 7 from 12-1:30 p.m. in the Space STEM Learning Node located in the museum’s fourth building.

Col. (Ret.) Merryl Tengesdal, the first and only female African American U-2 pilot, who has flown more than 300 combat hours from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa, will be available near the U-2 exhibit in the third building to meet visitors and answer questions about the aircraft on March 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. and from 2-3:30 p.m.

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Tom Kacena, who spent a combined 40 years in his military and civilian careers working in the space and intelligence field, including assignments supporting the Hexagon on orbit operational missions from 1974 through 1978, as well as serving as the Air Force representative in the factory during the manufacturing of both Gambit & Hexagon from 1978 through 1982, will also be stationed at the satellites in the fourth building throughout the event to meet visitors and answer questions.

Artifacts on display both days will include a full pressure suit worn by SR-71 pilots; a flying jacket; throttle quadrant; technical objective camera (TEOC); several survival items including food tubes that were used by pilots to eat while in flight; and unit memorabilia from the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron.

On March 7, visitors will also be able to see SR-71 and U-2 manuals; historical photos; scale models; and signed posters, along with archival footage of the SR-71 in action. 

In addition, author Rich Graham will be signing copies of his books “SR-71 Complete History,” “SR-71 Revealed,” and “Flying the SR-71 Blackbird” in the Cold War Gallery from 1-2:30 p.m. each day. These books will be available for purchase in the Museum Store while supplies last.

According to National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Historian Dr. Doug Lantry, the SR-71 and U-2 were both highly classified aircraft that provided critical intelligence during the height of the Cold War for our nation’s defense, and the U-2 is still in service. Gambit and Hexagon satellites played similar reconnaissance roles in space, using highly sophisticated cameras to capture images of areas aircraft could not overfly.

“The SR-71 and U-2 both flew top secret missions gathering crucial reconnaissance information around the world, and Gambit and Hexagon satellites added detailed imagery from the Earth's orbit,” said Lantry. “The ‘Secrets Revealed’ events will give the public an in-depth look at these two aircraft and spacecraft, which had a significant impact on the outcome of the Cold War.”

For the complete event schedule, visit

This event is brought to you in part by the generosity of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc.

*Federal endorsement is not implied.            

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year more than 800,000 visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit

The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., raises funds and awareness in support of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc. is a Section 501 (c)(3) private, non¬profit organization. It is not part of the Department of Defense or any of its components, and it has no government status. Visit                                                                                                        

NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, contact Rob Bardua at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1386.