There are times when you devote yourself to a higher cause than personal safety. John Glenn, first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, on this day 1962. Maybe true for pioneering test pilots, less so for us regular pilots. Original NASA photo from a camera aboard the Mercury-Atlas 6 spaceflight captures Glenn as he uses a photometer to view a sunset.
Anne McClain has faced down many fears, and is now going to be rewarded with sights that are literally out of this world. She’s been an Army combat helicopter pilot who deployed to Iraq, an instructor pilot and a test pilot. She is currently a NASA astronaut, in the pipeline to fly to Mars. Quote is from an interview in Glamour magazine, Jan 2016, talking about walking out on the launchpad to ride a rocket. And the picture is from her super-cool NASA video bio.
I just finished the great book Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino. (It came out earlier this month, hardcopy, kindle, iBooks.) It’s an easy engaging read, the personal story of his cool travels through colleges, companies, and on to two amazing Hubble rescue missions on the Space Shuttle. Best astronaut book I’ve read in a while. Along the way, ‘Mass’ shares some of the secrets learnt getting a PhD from MIT, learning to be an astronaut, and actually fixing the Hubble telescope in high Earth orbit. Here are some of my … Continue reading Spaceman Mike Massimino
Former NASA chief astronaut and USAF test pilot Charlie Precourt has a good article in the July edition of EAA’s Sport Aviation magazine. It’s on the normalization of deviance. That’s something we learnt about from studying the Space Shuttle accidents. And something we can apply every time we go flying. Listen to your plane. Don’t let standards slip. Don’t normalize deviance. (Picture is damaged TPS tiles on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, NASA S118-E-06229)
One of the best books written by a test pilot/astronaut is Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut’s Journeys by Mike Collins. He was a USAF test pilot, spacewalked on Gemini 10 and went to the Moon on the historic Apollo 11 mission. Here he talks about an interesting airmanship trap — Death by Embarrassment: It’s hard to admit a slip or mistake or error. But don’t let that kill you.