The following video will provide a tour of both the front cockpit and the RSO (Reconnaissance System Operator) of an SR-71 Blackbird simulator at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field, in Dallas, Texas.
What makes the documentary almost unique is the guide: Richard Graham, a former Blackbird pilot.
The simulator was used to train all the 86 pilots and navigators who flew the SR-71 fleet and had the very same cockpit layout of the actual operative planes.
You’ll discover how the laser of the PVD (Peripheral Visual Device) helped the pilots to maintain the orientation during night flying, when a red line painted another horizon inside the cockpit. And, you’ll learn that the back cockpit had only navigational instruments and no flight controls, meaning that in case the pilot in front seat had a heart attack, the RSO could only steer the plane towards a safe airspace, wait until the engines flamed out and then eject. On the other side, if the navigator had a heart attack, the pilot could still control the plane but not navigate it and this is the reason why both crew members had a dual responsibility to be healthy and in perfect shape, for their own life and the one of their companion.