This is untold story of the cold war race for the ultimate spy-plane. Using computer animation and rare archive footage our programme opens with the story of "Wild Cherry", the Lockheed skunk-works project to use Neptune aircraft flying at 150 mph and a unique "Skyhook" to retrieve spies dropped inside the Soviet Union and China. Next we recount the story of a British Canbera equipped with super long range cameras that get photos of a missile testing site deep inside the Soviet Union. In the battle of the next generation of high altitude spy-planes, the U-2 wins out over bells X-16. Meanwhile the soviets use high speed aircraft to photograph installations in Japan and commercial aircraft straying into unauthorized airspace over Europe to gather NATO intelligence. A Soviet attempt to design its own U-2, the Mandrake, encounters lift problems at high altitude and is abandoned. When a Soviet missile shoots down a U-2 the race is on between Convair and Lockheed to build a higher flying replacement.
The Soviets, having collected every scrap of the downed U-2, reverse engineer their own version of the plane which shoots down overflying spy balloons. Lockheed's high-flying, radar-absorbing plastic composites SR-71 Blackbird is selected to replace the U-2. A drone version of the SR-71, the D-21, makes several high flying runs over China and the Soviet Union. When all its missions end in failure, the D-21 is cancelled. We end with a reminder of the SR-71's extraordinary accomplishments and note that despite its much celebrated "retirement", the plane flies secret missions even today.