D-21b – #525
The D-21 was a reconnaissance drone (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) offshoot of the Blackbird family, designed to overfly enemy territory by being launched from international airspace. Following launch it flew a preprogrammed course, which concluded by D-21’s return into international airspace. Once back in the international airspace, the D-21 would eject a hatch with the camera, film and navigation system for midair recovery and then self-destruct.
The D-21 on display at the Blackbird Airpark is one of the 17 vehicles left after the program was canceled in 1971. Only four operational missions were flown using D-21 drones, all of them over China.