Every few months (about 6) The Cosmosphere's maintenance crew gathers early in the morning (6AM the morning after the time change on this day) to clean off Blackbird #961, a mock-up of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, and a T-38 Talon, using tall ladders and a lift. The guys were nice enough to let me come and observe/take pictures. It was a challenge though—I hadn't handled a DSLR in quite some time, the Cosmosphere's lighting lent an odd hue to it all, and I didn't want to bother them by using the flash.

Blackbird #17961, an SR-71A, arrived at the Cosmosphere in the late 1990s where it was mounted at a jaunty angle to evoke its landing approach. Then the lobby of the museum was built around it. It only had a few hundred hours of flight time as it was grounded as a spare when Bobby Kennedy ordered the tooling for the Blackbirds destroyed. Although the Strategic Air and Space Museum (in Ashland Nebraska) has theirs mounted at a similar angle, and their building completed around the same time, the designs were independent from each other, as far as I know. Recently the Virginia Science Museum has mounted their Blackbird in a similar fashion, although it is hanging.

I organized the pictures I took that day into 6 galleries, based on the airframe or maintenance crew member pictured. This is gallery 5 of 6.

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