The Online Blackbird Museum

SR-71 Blackbird:
Stories, Tales and Legends

By Col. Richard H. Graham (USAF-Ret)

This book is a compilation of the best stories from Habus, maintainers and engineers, all relating their personal experiences while flying and working on the Blackbirds. The book chronologically walks through the history of the Blackbird program, as told by 17 individual authors.

It begins with Ken Collins and the early CIA days of the A-12 program and ends with a final chapter from Major Mike "Zman" Zimmerman, the SR-71 Reactivation Program Manager. In chapter order, the stories are told by Ken Collins, Donn Byrnes, Dave Dempster, Pat Halloran, Tony Bevacqua, Jim Shelton, Al Cirino, Don Emmons, Jack Veth, Lee Shelton, Steve Koren, Frank Stampf, Gil Bertelson, Curt Osterheld, Geno Quist, Ed Yeilding, and Mike Zimmerman.

The reader will hear firsthand accounts of the very first ejection from a Blackbird, to the last one (off the coast of the Philippines), from the pilots who ejected. The initial cadre of Blackbird crewmembers were hand-picked, and you will truly understand what it took to be the "best of the best." The first operational mission, in excess of 11 hours, is thoroughly covered with details that will make you feel as if you are onboard the Blackbird itself. You will read the painstaking process of how maintenance got an SR-71 mission ready. Much of the camaraderie we shared as Blackbird crews had a humorous side and is related time and again throughout the book. You will hear from former SR-71 crewmembers who tried to save the SR-71 from a premature retirement, and what battles they had to overcome in the halls of the Pentagon. Most of all, you will enjoy the differences in styles as each author tells his own sagas.

Blackbird pilot Col. Tom Pugh (USAF-Ret.) had this to say about the book: "Rich: Your new book arrived and was immediately read and digested. Extremely well done, especially your side bars and editorial comment. It presented a wide range of emotions captured by some key players in the Blackbird program. The spectrum travels through happy, courageous, proud, disappointing, sad, and ultimately, disgusting. The accounts of Geno, Curt and Z'man evoke the latter. The very best chronicle of the program, aircraft, and people yet compiled. Sincere congratulations to you on a superb job. Standing by for Volume II."

As with Rich Graham's first book, SR-71 Revealed, The Inside Story, royalties from the sale of the book go to the "J.T. Vida Memorial Fund" at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The fund is established for the restoration and preservation of their SR-71 (tail #972), which will be on display when the new museum opens in December 2003 at Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.

The book is hardcover with 256 pages and 50 photographs and retails for $24.95. The book can be purchased or ordered from your local bookstores (ISBN: 0760311420). You can also call the publishing company, Motorbooks International, at 1-800-826-6600 and order the book through them.

If you would like a personally autographed copy of the book for you or someone else, send a check for $27.30 (Texas residents $29.36) to Richard Graham, 3501 Hearst Castle Way, Plano, TX 75025-3702. Price includes packaging and mailing. Be sure to include who the book is for and the address you want it mailed to. You can email Rich directly at habu5@verizon.net or call him at 972-491-0011 if you have any questions about your order.

Copyright © Rich Graham

The J.T. Vida Memorial Fund

Col. Rich Graham biography

SR-71 Revealed:
The Inside Story

SR-71 Blackbird:
Stories, Tales and Legends

Flying the SR-71 Blackbird:
In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission

The Complete Illustrated History of the Blackbird, The World's Hightest, Fastest Plane

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