Wednesday, May 06, 2009 - 11:45 AM
US Air Force
Landmark Aviation Addison Airport
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 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 world's fastest and highest flying aircraft. In 1980, he was selected to be the squadron commander of the SR-71 unit at Beale.
After serving four years in the Pentagon, Colonel 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 currently a check pilot with the Addison Civil Air Patrol Squadron and volunteers as a FAA representative 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.