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.