SR-71 Pilot Bill Weaver: Bailed out at Mach 3.15, 78,000 feet

Falling from the edge of Space

In 1966 while flying a test mission in the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, Bill Weaver and his RSO Jim Zwayer had a malfunction which caused the SR-71 to disintegrate around them at more than 2400 miles an hour. In an instant the plane was gone and Bill blacked out thinking this was the end. He fell for some time before regaining consciousness, his helmet faceplate fogged over giving him no view of his surroundings. He was still strapped to his chair and a small parachute designed to stop tumbling was deployed as he fell. Not knowing if his chute was going to deploy fully after the catastrophic destruction of the SR-71, he was grateful when it finally did open. He saw his RSO chute in the distance and was glad to know he got out as well (later it was discovered that Jim had broken his neck in the ejection and was already dead.) Bill landed safely and went on to a distinguished career as a test pilot until his death in 2021.

Valor is not only surviving a deadly crash, it is getting back into the pilot's seat again and again. Valor is in you. Set it free.

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