The Real Life Origins of the X-Men's Blackbird Jet

This is Foggy Ruins of TIme, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

Today, we look at how the X-Men essentially just adopted a real life jet and the jet has now become more famous as being the X-Men's fictional plane than being a real life marvel of aerospace engineering.


When the X-Men first had their own specialized jet in X-Men #20, it didn't really seem to be BASED on anything in particular...

Even when Dave Cockrum came aboard with Giant-Size X-Men #1, he just kept the most recent jet that they were using, a Strato-Jet that was mostly fictional...

Okay, now in the early 1960s, Lockheed Martin was developing planes that could avoid enemy radar, do surveillance and fly faster than any other plane ever could.

Their first plane like this, the A-12, came out in 1962...

However, this was just a single-seater. So in 1964, working at insane levels of design and production speed, they debuted the Blackbird SR-71, which seated two people (one person to fly and the other to work the reconnaisance tools)...


A couple of interesting points about the name - it was supposed to be RS-71, but President Lyndon B. Johnson mixed the name up and they changed the name so as to not make the president look bad. Secondly, while it entered popular culture as the Blackbird, the flight crews for the plane called it Habu, which is the name of a snake.

So, how did it translate into comic book form?

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