“Suddenly the wife began sliding her wedding ring off and handed it to me. She said, ‘I would love to have my ring flown at Mach 3,'” Richard H. Graham, SR-71 pilot
The following story appears in Col. Richard H. Graham’s book Flying the SR-71 Blackbird.
At a Wife’s Insistence
Sometimes visitors would ask if we would take a personal trinket of theirs on a Mach 3 flight. Some of the items I’ve taken up with me are coins, dollar bills, American flags, unit patches, and pilot wings.
Once at Det 1, a husband and wife were watching Don and me suit up for a mission. After all the pressure-suit checks were done, I casually mentioned if there was anything they would like me take up for them. They looked at each other with a blank stare for a second or two, when suddenly the wife began sliding her wedding ring off and handed it to me. She said, “I would love to have my ring flown at Mach 3.”
I sensed the husband was uneasy with this. He emphatically said, “No!” as he reached out to get the ring back from me. Not wanting a family argument in PSD [physiological support division], I handed it to him and said, “It’s probably best anyway; it looks expensive and could get lost or damaged.”
I thought that was the end of it. She took the ring from him and proceeded to hand it back to me! This time I was smart enough to know not to reach out for the ring. She looked him square in the eyes and said, “My ring is going to fly at Mach 3!” She handed me the ring again, and this time hubby backed off. He knew she was getting serious, and this wasn’t the time or place for a family feud. I wrapped her wedding ring in a protective cloth and zipped it in one of my pressure-suit pockets. I’m not a good judge of diamond ring quality, but it was an impressive stone. The mission went well and the Mach 3 ring was returned to its happy owner!
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Haggerty
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com