Dallas — Retired Air Force Colonel Richard Graham was the recipient of the George Haddaway Award at the 2019 Frontiers of Flight Leadership Council Corporate Breakfast on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
“[The George Haddaway Award] is a very important award for the museum, and we’ve been giving it away for probably close to the 30 years that we’ve been in existence,” Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, president and CEO of Frontiers of Flight Museum, said. “The award is presented each year to individuals or groups who have distinguished themselves by accomplishments in the realm of flight, such as pilots, crew members, corporate or political leadership, engineers, education or literature. We’ve pretty much given that award to the gamut across the board.”
Col. Graham graduated from Air Force pilot training in 1965 at Craig Air Force Base (AFB) in Selma, Alabama, and remained at Craig AFB as a T-37 instructor pilot and flight examiner until 1970. He flew over 200 combat missions in North Vietnam and Laos from 1971 to 1973 before being selected for the SR-71 “Blackbird” strategic reconnaissance program headquartered at Beale AFB in California in 1974. Col. Graham flew the SR-71 for the next seven years, amassing over 750 hours in the world’s fastest and highest-flying jet aircraft.
During his 25 years of service, Col. Graham accumulated over 4,600 hours of flight time and received numerous military decorations, including the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with 18 Oak Leaf Clusters.
“I’m very honored to be here today to receive a prestigious award in the aviation world,” Graham said. “When I looked up the list of previous winners and names like John Glenn and Chuck Yaeger appeared, I was stunned. In the aviation world, those are my heroes.
“Growing up in a little town in Pennsylvania, my biggest hero was my father. He was a World War II Corsair Navy pilot and later taught me how to fly at age 16 and shaped my aviation future. Sixteen years later, flying combat missions in Vietnam, the F4 family taught me just how fragile an aviation career could be. Many of my heroes never came home.”
The Corporate Breakfast is the capstone of a year-long celebration of the Frontiers of Flight Museum’s 30th anniversary.
“We had a lot of celebratory events since we just celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Frontiers of Flight Museum,” Sutterfied-Jones said. “We’ve have an incredible year. By year’s end, we will meet our goal of reaching 42,000 students with our STEM programming. We look forward to going into the next 30 years and all the things that will be happening.”
The museum also added two new crafts to their collection in 2019: a Grumman EA-6B “Prowler” they acquired in the spring, and a brand-new replica of the Spaceship One spacecraft.
“In 2004, Spaceship One made the first privately-funded human spaceflight, and it flew two or three times with the equivalent of three people on board,” Sutterfield-Jones said. “The original is hanging at the Smithsonian Museum. We have the replica here, which is a great addition to our space gallery.
“If you haven’t been here in a while, be sure and look over at our space gallery. We’re really excited.”
Written by Ariel Graham