Burbank on Parade pays homage to aviation when it marches down Olive Avenue beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday.
It's with luck that the parade committee has a link to former Lockheed test pilot Robert Gilliland, who will be sharing the title of grand marshal with United Airlines No. 1 pilot Clay Lacy. Gilliland, 85, was the original test pilot of the SR-71 Blackbird when it made its first flight in Palmdale on Dec. 22, 1964.
The Blackbird was designed by Kelly Johnson and was developed as a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft that could fly at speeds more than Mach 3.2 and as high as 85,000 feet. The first SR-71 began service in 1966 and the aircraft series was retired in 1990, with just a few kept in operation from 1995 to 1998.
In a phone interview, Gilliland explained that a reconnaissance mission is when an aircraft flies over enemy territory to capture images of military locations.