Col. Richard H. Graham, Colonel Don Emmons

Rich and I after a flight

Col. Richard H. Graham, Colonel Don Emmons

Col. Richard H. Graham, Colonel Don Emmons

A veteran of fifteen years of assignments within the SR-71 community, Col. Richard H. Graham is uniquely qualified to tell the Blackbird story. Colonel Graham entered the SR-71 strategic reconnaissance program in 1974. After several years as a crew member, he was further selected to become an instructor pilot in the SR-71, and in 1978 was selected as the Chief, Standardization/Evaluation Division. In 1980 he was the SR-71 Squadron Commander of the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron.  Following four years in the Pentagon, Col. Graham was selected to be the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Commander at Beale AFB in June 1987.

Prior to entering the SR-71 program he flew 210 combat missions in Vietnam in the F-4C/D Phantom as well as the Wild Weasel mission.  Colonel Graham was a command pilot with more than 4,600 military flying hours. His military decorations include three Legion of Merit awards, four Distinguished Flying Cross medals, and 19 Air Medals.  After serving 25 years in the Air Force, Col. Graham flew for American Airlines for 13 years, amassing over 8,000 flying hours.  He has written five books on the SR-71 which will be available for autographs.

 

Colonel Don Emmons has 22 years of experience with the SR-71 program.  He served as a Reconnaissance Systems Officer in the aircraft, as the Squadron Operations Officer, as the Pentagon Program Manager, as the Commander of the Logistics unit responsible for its “cradle to grave” operation, and later as a civilian consultant to its Reactivation at Edwards AFB.  As such he had the ultimate responsibility of closing down the program both times.

Prior to the SR-71 program he was a bombardier in the B-52 and flew 225 missions in Vietnam, participating in both Linebacker I and Linebacker II campaigns. After the SR-71 program he became the Commander of the sister Logistics unit for the U-2 and received a VIP high altitude ride in it before retirement.  His military decorations include two Legions of Merit awards, three Distinguished Flying Cross medals and 15 Air Medals.  He now volunteers with the Commemorative Air Force working 10-12 air shows a year with its Flight Line Service Detachment.