The Cockpits exhibit in the Museum's Great Gallery invites visitors to climb into the cockpit of a real SR-71A Blackbird reconnaissance plane or a full-scale mock-up of an F/A-18L Hornet fighter. To the best of our knowledge, the Museum of Flight is the only place where the public can manipulate the controls of a Blackbird, the fastest, highest-flying jet ever built. The Cockpits exhibit provides a two-minute overview of the instrument panels, distinctive engine sounds, and a photo opportunity for anyone who has ever dreamed of piloting these historic aircraft.
Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's SR-71A Blackbird was designed as a Mach 3 successor to the U-2 spy plane and used by the U.S. Air Force and NASA. The Blackbird holds the speed record for a jet airplane at more than 2,100 mph. It also has the record for level flight at the highest altitude, more than 85,000 feet, or 16 miles above Earth. The Museum's Blackbird cockpit, from aircraft serial number 64-17977, was built in 1964.
The Boeing Company F/A-18 Hornet is a frontline fighter and attack-bomber currently in use by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and many foreign nations. The exhibit's cockpit is a mock-up made by Northrop Corporation to demonstrate a proposed version of the Hornet to its customers in 1979.