The plane was purposely designed to leak fuel: "The fuel tanks are the skin of the airplane. If you rap on this airplane, the fuel tank is on the other side. There's no internal fuel tanks. Because of the expansion and contraction cycles [due to heating and cooling of the aircraft at different speeds] it sometimes leaked and dropped from underneath the airplane. It was measured in Drops Per Minute – DPMs we called them – and maintenance used a stopwatch and counted them, and in certain locations on the aircraft there are acceptable and unacceptable Drips Per Minute."
Rainstorms could be deadly: "In Okinawa, unfortunately, we had a lot of rainstorms which just come out of nowhere. And when you mix JP-7 with a little bit of rain it gets very, very slippery on the ground. An SR-71 was coming back from a mission. He was coming back into the hangar. Don [Graham’s navigator] and I were on back-up duty so we were in the hangar. As he came in to the hangar, he slows down, he's right on the centreline… and we notice his brakes are locked up, the wheels aren't rotating anymore, and he's still going through the hangar, sliding. And you would not believe how many maintenance people realised immediately something was wrong with this airplane. We had maintenance guys throwing chocks under the wheel but it kept on moving. Don and I were grabbing on to the wingtip to try and stop it, people were grabbing every part of the airplane as they realised it was an emergency. It was like a dream in slow motion as this airplane just went through the hangar. And it stopped, when the main wheels just caught the other side of the hangar onto the concrete. And its pitot tube, the tube at the front, came about a foot from ramming a curved blast deflector we have for jet engines."
Steak and eggs before every flight: "The day before the mission, both the primary crew – a pilot and a navigator – would meet with backup crews. They would meet at mission planning. The mission planners would have all the maps and computer flight plans laid out on the table and the next two or three hours you would go through the entire route of flight, seeing what would happen through the flight, if we ran low on fuel, if MiGs come up, if there were [surface to air missiles] fired at us, if there was an engine flame-out, what we would do? So we had a good game plan when we left mission planning.
"After the mission planning was finished you were free for the rest of the day, you had to get the normal eight hours of crew rest the night before, and the following morning you'd wake up and drive to a facility either in Mildenhall or Okinawa. Before every flight you had to have a High Protein Low Residue meal – which was steak and eggs. So they wanted to make sure you were well fed before every flight with a steak and egg meal. That would last about half an hour, and then you would drive your cars to a secure location… and begin the mission briefing. Once the briefing was concluded, it took about 20 minutes, everyone went to the four winds to do their job. The back-up crew went out to pre-flight your airplane the primary crew would go undressed, get into their long john cotton underwear to get into the suit. Prior to that they've already taken a physical, a little mini physical, blood pressure, eyes, nose, ears, throat, when you went to bed, what time you woke up, what your meal was the night before, all these parameters. If you didn't pass the physical, the back-up crew would come in and fly the mission."