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Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission Hardcover – July 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; 1st edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760332398
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760332399
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Pacific Flyer, August 2008
"For anyone who has ever wondered what it's like to fly the SR-71 on a secret Mach 3 reconnaissance mission, Flying the SR-71 Blackbird has the answer. Retired SR-71 pilot and squadron leader Graham takes readers along on an operational mission that only a few Air Force pilots have ever experienced...Graham offers a rare cockpit perspective on how regular Air Force pilots and navigators transformed themselves into SR-71 Blackbird cres, turning their unique avation talents to account in an unprecedented way. Arguably the world's foremost expert on piloting the Blackbird, Graham details, as no one else could, what an SR-71 mission entails, from donning a pressure suit to returning to base...Flying the SR-71 Blackbird is the ultimate play-by-play journey into what is involved in an operational mission of one of aviation history's most prized, and top secret, aircraft."

About the Author

A veteran of fifteen years of assignments within the SR-71 community, Colonel Richard H. Graham is uniquely qualified to tell the Blackbird’s story. Crew member, instructor pilot, chief of the standardization/evaluation division, Colonel Graham was named SR-71 Squadron Commander, 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, in January 1981. A command pilot with more than 4,600 military flying hours, he has earned military decorations and awards including the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with three oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with eighteen oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with “V” device and one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, Combat Readiness Medal with one oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with four service stars, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Colonel Graham’s other books on the SR-71 include SR-71 Revealed: The Inside Story and SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales and Legends. He lives in Plano, Texas.


More About the Author

Colonel (ret) Richard Graham is the author of three books on the SR-71 Blackbird. He flew this aircraft for seven years and ended up with 756 hours in the cockpit, which makes him the perfect author to write about this Mach 3+ jet. Below is his biography.

Col. 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.

Col. Graham entered Air Force pilot training, receiving his wings in 1965 at Craig Air Force Base, Selma, Alabama. From 1971-1973 he flew 210 combat missions over North Vietnam and Laos in the F-4 Phantom.

He was selected to enter the SR-71 strategic reconnaissance program in 1974 at Beale Air Force Base, California. He flew the SR-71 for the next seven years, amassing 756 hours in the worlds fastest and highest flying aircraft. Col. Graham also flew the SR-71 as an Instructor Pilot and Stan/Eval Pilot. In 1980, he was selected to be the squadron commander of the SR-71 unit at Beale.

After serving four years in the Pentagon, Col. Graham was selected to be the 9th Wing Commander at Beale in 1987. 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 a pilot with the Frisco Civil Air Patrol Squadron and volunteers as a FAA representative (FAAST) on their safety team in Dallas. He and his wife Pat live in Plano.

He has written three books, "SR-71 Revealed," "SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales, and Legends," and "Flying the SR-71 Blackbird." 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 is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for 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.


Customer Reviews

Very good read, but very technical..
Toothcop
If you are interested in knowing every minute detail about the SR-71 Blackbird, this is the book for you.
James P. Pratt
I recommend the book to anyone who is interested in aviation history.
Aunt Mary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Dave English VINE VOICE on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book! It's exactly what the title says it is -- a pilot's inside the cockpit explanation of flying the SR-71, in expansive detail. The author is perfectly qualified for the task as a former SR-71 pilot, instructor pilot, chief stan/eval and commander of the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron. There are 80 pages of original SR-71 checklists, there are detailed cockpit pictures, and there is explanation of every switch you'd see in a complete mission. Make no mistake, this is not a pretty picture book, this is for true pilot nerds who want to do what is now impossible -- climb inside the Blackbird and take it flying at Mach 3.2 and FL 780.

The foreword correctly states the book, "provides the missing link among the many Blackbird volumes that have been written over the past quarter century. While many nuts-and-bolts references have been written covering the aircraft's development, flight test, and operational history in minute detail, none, until now, have addressed the subject of flying the mission from the perspective of the pilot." It includes illuminating discussions about abnormal and emergency procedures, as well as some sidebars with tales of specific flights. It also includes a few pages of color pictures. The SR-71 was a stunning thrill-ride, and also a hughly complex techno-social system. Graham has written a quality tribute to the aeroplane and the thousands of people that made the system work.

Buy the big picture books by Brian Shul for glossy photographs and fluid descriptions of the feel of flying the SR-71. Buy the various history books for the development story and technical details. But for the this-switch-does-that (and why) (and when) detail of actually flying faster than a bullet, you need to buy this book. If this sort of thing is your cup of tea, you may also enjoy 'The Concorde Stick & Rudder Book' by Mike Riley for details on flying another big plane really really fast. I hope this review helps you.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Freedman on September 6, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission
HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO FLY AN SR-71? Well there are two things you need, one is this book, the other, well an operating aircraft. That I can't help you with, but I can suggest you should get this book!

Rich Graham was an instructor pilot on the SR-71, and his infinite knowledge of operating the Blackbird is laid out in the step by step procedures of flying the aircraft. Each check list item is described and laid out to explain it in terms you can understand.

This is Col Graham's third book, and 'Flying the Blackbird' like the others is a must for the Blackbird fan. This book is unique in that it tells you the complex cockpit procedures of this marvel of aviation. No other book or writer could give you the insight that Col. Rich Graham does.

A must.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By removeb4flight on October 31, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The previous reviews are right on the mark, so I won't restate what they said. This book has a tremendous amount of detail on the physics of flight, engine parameters, navigation challenges, and steps taken to do an actual mission. It is not for casual readers, although there are short sections boxed in the text that relate to humorous or unusual incidents, that all readers would enjoy. I am still amazed that engineers working for Kelly Johnson built this aircraft with slide rules, paper tables, and drawings made by draftsmen, not computers. They achieved Mach 3+ flight using "steam gauges" and pilot skill. Contrast that with the Stealth fighter which flys because a computer moves the control surfaces in response to pilot input. I have seen the SR-71 fly at Beale and this book adds a great insight into its design and operation. I highly recommend it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James P. Pratt on September 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in knowing every minute detail about the SR-71 Blackbird, this is the book for you. I have seen the Blackbird up close, sat in the cockpit, and have spent many hours flying the SR-71 on Microsoft Flight Simulator (SR-71 sim available online). Now, with this book, I am learning all of the Blackbird's intimate secrets. The author leaves nothing to the imagination as he steps you through a mission. The planning, the preflight, the cockpit check, taxiing, runup, takeoff, climbout, mission navigation, descent, and landing. It is all there. Did you know that the SR-71 gets only 20% of its thrust from the two jet engines? Where does the rest come from? The author will tell you. There are diagrams and descriptions of every instrument, switch, and lever in the aircraft. This all was top secret stuff a few years ago.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Frank Vancleve on August 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A well written book. I am a retired military and airline pilot with over 20000 hours of flight time. Even with all this time I found some of this over my head! But if you want to know in great detail how this amazing thing worked this is the book for you! Read slow and analize as you go along and I am shure you will enjoy flying the most amazing bird.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By E. Butler on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a technically oriented person but I found this book to be very dry reading. There are only a few good anecdotes scattered here and there to create some interest but otherwise very little to really get your teeth into. There are endless pages of checkout procedures which are about as interesting as waiting in line at the DMV. Pages 201 through 273, almost 25% of the book, are nothing but the Pilot's Checklist. There are some nice photos but otherwise I wasted my money on this yawner of a book. My advice: don't be sucked in by the title and cover photos.... there's very little inside worth reading.
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