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    Cracking the Code of the SR-91 Aurora: Examining the Potential Heir to the SR-71 Blackbird

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    The SR-91 Aurora, rumored to replace the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, still lacks clear evidence of its existence.

    Despite a budget code name and a single alleged sighting in 1989, the program probably never advanced beyond the concept stage due to satellite and drone advancements.

    This claim persists despite various incidents and eyewitness reports that have intrigued aviation fans and defense analysts for years.

    In August of 1992, seismic activity recorded by the United States Geological Survey near the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California suggested sonic booms from a high-altitude supersonic aircraft, occurring consistently on Thursday mornings around 7 a.m.

    Jim Mori, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey at Caltech, mentioned in a 1992 interview with the LA Times, “It’s something that’s traveling through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound in a generally northeasterly direction.”

    The nature of these reports fueled the fire of speculation that a classified aircraft, possibly the mysterious Aurora, was being tested out of the clandestine Groom Lake facility, more popularly known as Area 51.

    Notably, the Air Force denied these claims at the time.

    Aviation Week and Space Technology, another reputable aviation outlet, also reported an unusual aircraft sighting near Beale Air Force Base, in northern California, flying in formation with two F-117 Nighthawks and a KC-135 refueling tanker.

    Boeing NKC-135 and B-52 Stratofortress” by fsll2 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    Witnesses reported that this aircraft turned off its exterior lights upon joining the formation, and its engine emitted a sound likened to “air rushing through a big tube.”

    Additionally, reports of peculiar contrails, referred to as “doughnuts on a rope,” and associated with the Aurora program, suggested the use of an advanced pulse detonation engine. However, the feasibility of such technology for achieving hypersonic speeds remains doubtful.

    The concept of the SR-91 Aurora was further complicated by sightings in the U.K.

    In August of 1989, Chris Gibson, a trained airfield observer, reported seeing a triangle-shaped aircraft accompanied by two F-111s and a KC-135.

    Lockheed SR-71 3/4 front view, the first SR-71A-LO delivered (S/N 61-7950). (U.S. Air Force photo)

    In 2006, esteemed aviation writer Bill Sweetman concluded that evidence from 20 years of investigating budget discrepancies, unexplained sonic booms, and the Gibson sighting supported the program’s early existence.

    Ongoing research reveals indications of present-day operations.

    Recently, scrutinizing the Air Force operations budget uncovered a $9-billion undisclosed fund, potentially linked to a project such as Aurora.

    Relevant articles:
    SR-91 Aurora: The U.S. Military’s Secret Mach 5 Plane?, The National Interest
    8A Poseidon Multi Mission Aircraft for the Royal Canadian Air Force, canada.ca
    91 Aurora aircraft, Defence Aviation

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