22 July 1965
She left the assembly line on July 22, 1965, and made her first flight with pilot Bill Weaver and RSO George Andre on December 15 of that year (Lockheed Skunk Works, Jay Miller; p. 200).
61-7958 was the first “regular” (neither test vehicle nor trainer) blackbird delivered to the Air Force.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, July 27 & 28, 1976, 958 bettered 3 speed and altitude records previously held by a YF-12A, #60-6936:
- 27 July 1976 World absolute and class record for speed (1,000 km closed circuit): 2,092.29 mph Capt. Pat Blesdoe and Maj. John Fuller
- 28 July 1976 World absolute and class record for speed over a 15/25 km straight course: 2,193.167 mph Capt. Eldon Joersz and Maj. George Morgan
- 28 July 1976 World absolute and class record for sustained altitude (horizontal flight): 85,069 ft Capt. Robert Helt and Maj. Larry Elliot
Sometime history repeats itself. These 3 crews were to each have set their own record in separate airframes. Just like the YF-12A speed record attempts from 11 years earlier, all but one airframe developed problems just before the records were to be set. According to Pat Bledsoe, 958 was used by all 3 crews to set all 3 records.
Friday, 23 February 1990
958 made her last flight on Friday, February 23, 1990, when she was flown to Robins AFB. Don Watkins and Bob Fowlkes logged the last of her 2288.9 hours.
Museum of Aviation, Robins AFB, Warner Robins, Georgia
She is now on display at Robins AFB in central Georgia, where she has been restored to her original “high-observable” paint scheme, with the addition of the Ichi Ban banner that only 974 ever sported; perhaps as a tribute to the last blackbird to be lost.