Wings

Wings

To military aviators, completing flight training carries a great deal of importance.  The end of the training culminates in a ceremony to certify they’ve earned their “wings.” Military wings have a symbol of their branch of the service with symbolic wings to the side. The United States Navy wings are gold, and the United States Air Force has silver ones. (Hence the Navy boot camp marching song: “I don’t know but I’ve been told Navy wings are...

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Setting A Good Example

Setting A Good Example

Have you ever had the feeling that you were being watched?  I grew up that way. When you live in a small town where your family has lived for generations, everyone knows your pedigree and knows who you are.  Do something wrong and your momma, grandmamma, and great-grandmamma are sure to find out.  It tends to keep you out of trouble. I was shy and quiet when I entered high school.  Then, I was selected to be a cheerleader, and I was expected to...

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Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

Diapers, Underwear, and Makeup

There were many issues to address when women were first accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Corps. While some were important, others were mundane. All had to be decided. How could we urinate while waiting on the launch pad or during a spacewalk? Now that was a major concern of the space program and all six female Astronauts! The device made for the men wasn’t going to work for the women. While designers invented a variety of contraptions that fit...

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Real Hidden Figures

Real Hidden Figures

If you haven’t seen the movie, Hidden Figures, you should. It is a true story, a tale of a group of African-American women hired at the dawn of NASA for their superior mathematical skills. It reminded me of so many things at NASA. People ask: do you miss flying in space? Well, yes, a little. Mostly, I miss the fine people. Like the people in the movie, they weren’t all perfect, but they learned from their mistakes and always tried to improve....

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A Disorderly Christmas

A Disorderly Christmas

Hoot’s second Shuttle flight, his first as Commander, was scheduled for 1985, but many delays in the Shuttle program pushed it later and later into the year.  His crew was a great bunch—with several good friends from the Astronaut Corps.  Three members of the crew—Hoot, George “Pinkie” Nelson, and Steve Hawley—had flown before, but it was a first for Charlie Bolden, and Franklin Chang Diaz, as well as Payload Specialists (who would only be...

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Astronaut-in-Residence

Astronaut-in-Residence

Imagine looking out at a sea of bright young faces in a faraway land, a place called Australia. In 1994 I had been invited to be the Astronaut-in-Residence at Melbourne’s St. Catherine’s School. In a huge auditorium, I faced several hundred girls from tiny four year olds to blossoming teens. Then, they began to sing.  After a lengthy plane ride to this “Land Down Under,” a song rang out and linked me to home.  Their glorious rendition of “The...

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