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SR-71 in USAF Service

  • Start date: 19 October 2017 10:00 AM
  • End date: 19 October 2017 11:30 AM
  • Venue: Ngunnawal Theatre, R1


In the October air power seminar, Russ Szczepanik will speak on the development of the SR-71 aircraft in US service, which was completed in only twenty months. Travelling at more than M3.2, the SR-71 is the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft developed over the last forty years. Its manufacture required extensive use of Titanium; its role required a low radar cross-section; its design challenges included the high external skin temperatures and supersonic engine air inlet, whilst flight operational challenges included the crew life support system, fuel and navigation flight planning. Russ will provide his personal account of the challenges in acquiring and flying this challenging and game-changing aircraft.

Russ Szczepanik

Russ Szczepanik commenced his military aviation career in the US Air Force, where he was assigned as a special operations operator and officer.  He was also an instructor and flight examiner for SR-71, RF-4C, F4-D/E/F, T-38 and KC-135 aircraft.  He was assigned as Commander and Director of Operations at a foreign SR-71 300+ detachment with responsibility for airborne operational surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence missions.  He also flew classified SR-71 missions at worldwide locations. He was assigned as the Director for World-wide SR-71 Operations. Russ finished his Air Force career as Director for Advanced Aircraft Development at Strategic Air Command Headquarters.

Upon leaving the US military, Russ was employed by the Boeing company from 1989 to 2009, Russ held various positions such as AEW&C Product Line Manager, Director, 737 AEW & C Australia Operations, Country Director, International Business Development in Australia and New Zealand, 737 AEW &C Business Development Manager, Team Leader Integrated Marketing Team, Flight Crew Instructor for the Boeing 767 and 757 Aircraft, and Defence Senior Analyst. 

Russ retired from Boeing to become the Senior Operations Manager at CEA Technologies.  He was responsible for all of CEA’s operational departments.  Russ later became a Senior Consultant and Business Development Manager for the Aerospace division at QinetiQ (QQ) Australia and has worked as a Senior Consultant at Project Outcomes Australia. Russ is currently employed as a Senior Systems Engineer at NOVA Systems. 

Russ graduated from the US Air Force Academy with a BS in Military Science and Engineering.  He completed a Master’s Degree from Pepperdine University in Psychology.