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 1971-1972 and as a Wild Weasel pilot from 1972-1973.

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 check pilot with the Civil Air Patrol and volunteers as a FAA representative on their safety team in Dallas.

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.

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