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Col. Rich Graham


Colonel (ret) Richard Graham graduated from the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio in 1964. He received a master's degree in Sociology in 1977 and in Public Administration in 1979 from Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, California.

Colonel Graham entered Air Force pilot training, receiving his wings in 1965 at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama. He remained at Craig as a T-37 Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner until 1970. Upon completion of F-4 fighter training, he flew 210 combat missions over North Vietnam and Laos from 1971-1973.

He was selected to enter the SR-71 strategic reconnaissance program in 1974 at Beale AFB, California. He flew the SR-71 for the next seven years, amassing 756 hours in the worlds fastest and highest flying aircraft. In 1980, he was selected to be the squadron commander of the SR-71 unit at Beale, where he served until his assignment to the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Montgomery, Alabama.

In June of 1982, he was assigned to the Pentagon to work in Programs and Resources as a strategic force programmer. In 1984 he was promoted to colonel and selected to work in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, working closely on budgetary matters with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Air Staff.

In 1986, Colonel Graham was the Vice Wing Commander at Beale AFB. In June of 1987 he was selected to be the 9th Wing Commander. During that time he was privileged to be able to fly the SR-71, U-2, T-38 and KC-135Q concurrently, for over two years. During his 25 years of service, he amassed 4,600 hours, retiring from the Air Force in 1989. His military decorations include three Legion of Merit awards, four Distinguished Flying Cross medals and 19 Air Medals.

Upon retirement from the Air Force, he joined American Airlines in Dallas, Texas. After flying 13 years at American, he retired in August 2002 as a Captain on the MD-80 aircraft, with over 7,500 hours. He now spends his time as an author, speaker, aviation consultant, and flight instructor. Col. Graham is currently a mission and check pilot with the Civil Air Patrol squadron in Dallas.

He has written two books, "SR-71 Revealed, The Inside Story," and "SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales, and Legends." A veteran of 15 years of assignments within the SR-71 community, he is uniquely qualified to tell the SR-71 story. Colonel Graham was the 1999 recipient of the University of Nebraska's William F. Shea Award for his distinguished contribution to aviation. He was selected to be a Distinguished Lecturer for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In 2005, the Blackbird Association awarded him the Kelly Johnson trophy, a lifetime achievement award for his work to perpetuate, foster and improve the SR-71.

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"SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story" (Richard H. Graham)

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SR-Revealed by Rich GrahamBuy this book. Written by a retired blackbird pilot who went on to head the entire Program, this is THE book to get if you want to learn about the blackbird. If you had a son who was accepted into the Program, wrote you every week and told you everything that was going on, you would have something like this book (assuming that your boy didn't land in the stockade for treason, of course). It's all here... technical info, war stories, anecdotes, everything you were looking for. Col. Graham donates the royalties from his book to the J.T. Vida Memorial fund at the National Air Space Museum for the preservation of their SR-71. You can order an autographed copy directly from the author by sending him an email at


"SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales and Legends" (Richard H. Graham)

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stl by author rich grahamAs an SR-71 author, Rich Graham's score is now 2-0. In his first book, SR-71 Revealed, he did most of the talking; this time out he's more of a moderator, introducing 19 other "speakers" and offering background info where appropriate. If you're tired of the same old how-high, how-fast blackbird fare, then get yourself a copy of this book and enjoy. Sure, the blackbirds were amazing pieces of hardware, but it was people who built them, and people who made them what they were. Here you have those same blackbird people telling their own stories in their own words --- it just doesn't get any better than this. Col. Graham donates royalties from his book to the J.T. Vida Memorial Fund at the National Air & Space Museum for the preservation of their SR-71. You can order an autographed copy directly from the author by sending him an email at"


"It all begins with a desire," writes author Col. Richard Graham in the first chapter of Flying the SR-71 Blackbird, "a desire to fly the world's most secretive, highest and fastest plane." For anyone who has ever wondered what it's like to fly the SR-71 on a secret Mach 3 reconnaissance mission, this book has the answersFlying the SR-71 BlackbirdFlying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission takes readers on an operational mission that only a few U.S. Air Force pilots have ever experienced. Col. Graham offers a rare cockpit perspective on how regular Air Force pilots and navigators transformed themselves into SR-71 Blackbird crews, turning their unique aviation talents to account in an unprecedented way. Shown to the public for the very first time, the book includes the once-secret SR-71 pilot's checklist.

The hardcover book is 288 pages and includes pictures/diagrams and the pilot's checklist. Autographed copies of the books can be purchased directly from Rich Graham. The book is $29.00 ($30.15 Texas residences) and includes postage. Send a check to Richard Graham, 3501 Hearst Castle Way , Plano , TX 75025 for the book. Be sure to include who to autograph the book to and a return mailing address.