Sunday, November 28, 2010

Final Flight - MSGT Leland Haynes

Submitted by TD Barnes, President Roadrunners Internationale

It is my sad duty to inform the Blackbird family of the loss of one of our finest. Last night Leland Haynes, 69, departed on his final flight due to complication of recovery from surgery. Leland was a personal friend to many of us and his departure creates a void in our family impossible to fill.

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 Master Sergeant. He served on the Blackbird from 1969 to 1974, serving for five years in the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SAC) at Beale Air Force Base 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 Farnborough, England 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 SR-71 - 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:

Updated 12/2 - TD Barnes did this video for the services:


Anonymous said...

Excellent send off TD. I can see Sarge's chest sticking out just a little bit more after reading this. He loved the SR-71 family as much as his own and it showed. I would say "Rest In Peace Sarge", but I think he would rather rest with the sound of twin Pratt & Whitney J-58's in full afterburner! He will be sorely missed!

Jason Jones

Anonymous said...

Many years ago (15+) I ran into Leland on an IRC server. I happened to be using his nick (unknowingly to me) Habu. Asking why I took his nick we got chatting about the SR-71. This became a long online friendship. We exchanged info, photos we found/took, URLs, and helped each other with websites, etc.

Leland you will be missed, i feel bad i had not reached out recently and now I can not. You will always be in my mind and heart. Thank you for all that you have done for me and the community. You will be missed dearly. God Bless you on your final flight my friend.

Sam Wiltzius