Submitted by TD Barnes, President Roadrunners Internationale
Leland's service to his country, the Air Force, and the SR-71 Blackbird family did not stop when he retired and folded away his blues. Leland purchased an old Commodore 64 computer and challenged the cyber world where he became a master webmaster dedicated to recording for history the legacies of the men and women who served their country maintaining and flying the SR-71 Blackbird.
Leland retired from the Air Force as a . He served on the Blackbird from 1969 to 1974, serving for five years in the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SAC) at in Marysville, California. His job was to maintain, inspect, launch and recover the SR-71 Blackbird. From the moment he found out he was to be assigned to the secret Blackbird, to the day he left the organization, it was a love affair to last a lifetime. To Leland, each and every launch was a sight to behold. The awesome fact that he was about to launch the worlds fastest air-breathing and highest flying aircraft in the world redefined, to him, the meaning of responsibility.
As his tenure with the 9th SRW was about to end, Leland was informed that his plane, Article 64-17972 was to make a New York to London speed record attempt. He arrived in in August of 1974, to receive the aircraft as it landed. To end his distinguished career in the USAF on this note was about as high a recognition possible for a job well done.
Leland didn't stop with just the Air Force's - he adopted the CIA A-12 Blackbird family that preceded the SR-71, working with the Roadrunner staff and webmaster to record their legacy as well. It was common at both the A-12 Roadrunners and the SR-71 HABU reunions to see both of the organization's webmasters, Leland and Roadrunner webmaster T.D. Barnes sitting side by side to show the presentation that they had jointly prepared for the event.
The Blackbirds are no longer flying, so if you hear a rumbling sonic boom and see a Mach 3+ plane at 85,000 jettisoning a bit of fuel to drop a contrail, you'll know it is Leland still doing what he loved to do, except now it is God flying his plane.
Funeral arrangements and updates will be posted on the Roadrunner Website at: http://roadrunnersinternationale.com/final_flight.html.