CharonPDX wrote:This one makes an SR-71 possible to beat satellite.

Start just over the Southern tip of Alaska, wing down over Washington, Oregon, and join the Northernmost line somewhere in Oregon/Idaho so you hit the line in time to pass over Wyoming. That should be possible on one tank, in about an hour and a half.

Then turn over the Atlantic and mid-air refuel, and hit the Southernmost line, turn around over Texas and hit the middle-South line. A little over an hour, one tank of fuel.

Turn again over the Atlantic and mid-air refuel, and hit the last line to pass over Four Corners. That's a smidge over an hour.

Refuel again over the Pacific, and run to Hawaii, about an hour, single tank of fuel. Four lines, only two "curves" needed from your lines, three refuels, about five hours, including refuel slowdowns.

Excellent!

I reworked the path in Google Earth to trim down distance as much as possible. Here's the final path, in all its glory:

All the curves have a turning radius of at least 100 miles so that there won't be any loss in speed. The turn from DC and New Jersey up to Rhode Island is by far the sharpest, but it's still within this limit...and of course this is also a likely point for aerial refueling and thus could have reduced speed for a sharper turn. According to Google Earth, the whole route is a cool 18,828 km. Since an SR71's peak cruising speed is just about 1 km/s, this means the route itself would take five hours, fourteen minutes. Unfortunately, I don't have a good idea of how much time would be lost to refueling. The KC135Q was modified to allow refueling at the tanker's maximum speed of 933 km/hr or 0.26 km/s, sadly still a crawl compared to the SR71. I don't know how long refueling takes or how much time would be lost in slowing down and speeding up. According to

this naval pilot who flew F14s, he would factor in about ten minutes for docking, fueling, and undocking, but that doesn't give us any data about the slowdown or speedup.

However, I'm guessing that the twin engines of the SR71 are more than capable of producing high-gee acceleration, so if we just choose to limit horizontal acceleration to 1G for the sake of the pilots, then the delta-V of 0.74 km/s will take just over a minute. If we simply write off the distance covered during acceleration/deceleration then each refuel will add 12 minutes to our flight time, bringing our total up to 5 hours 50 minutes. Still should be able to beat out a satellite, and in controlled airspace to boot.

I'll try to attach the .kmz file (renamed to a .doc to allow upload) to this post if I can, just in case someone wants to play around with it. Be sure to rename to .kmz before loading.

Barstro wrote:At best, you could argue (as stoppedcaring seems to have) that the line has a thickness of the person (thus allowing Four Corners to count as four states instead of two or three).

Yeah, you could say it like that. I was more thinking that a line tangent to a curve touches the curve, and so simply touching the border of a state is enough to say that you have "crossed" that state. A line crossing over Four Corners is tangent to all four borders.

Relaxing to tangency will not produce any dramatic advantages and, I think, should be allowable.

EDIT: Reworked the path somewhat. I realized that NY, VT, NH, ME, MA, RI, CT, NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC, VA, and OH can all be hit in sequence by one curve with a radius that never goes under 100 miles, so I reversed the loops. Added enough points to the line so that the actual curves taken will be less distance than the line describes, rather than more.

Brought the total distance down to less than 16,310 km, for a total flight time (requiring only two refuels at a time loss of 12 minutes each) of 4 hours, 56 minutes. Nailed it.

Here's the new .kmz file!

- shorter SR71 path.doc
*A shorter flight path (Google Earth .KMZ file, rename)* - (1.19 KiB) Downloaded 471 times