Growing up, I had the privilege of having a father who was a private pilot. This meant I was surrounded by aviation from a young age. I spent many weekends at the local airport with my dad helping him wash his planes, hanging out with the local AOPA club, and flying around the county where we lived in northeast Arkansas. My family took very few road trips; instead we traveled to most of our vacation destinations in our plane. One summer when I was about 12, my dad and I flew across the country in his Aeronica Champ to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh show in Wisconsin. Camping out at night under the wing of the fabric-covered, 2-seater plane with a hand-cranked wooden propeller and no modern avionics, we were flying in a barebones style reminiscent of the barnstorming days of aviation early in the 20th century. I'll never forget it.
I was my dad's co-pilot long before I could drive a car, and if I have one regret in life it's that I wasn't able to finish earning my private pilot certificate before I went to college. Ever since I left home at age 16 to attend a boarding school, I have been a near-perpetual student with no time or money to spare for the heavy investment of earning my wings. I have pledged to myself that this will change in 2011, but it won't be easy.
Now I'm 32 and have a son of my own. I want him to share the same love for flying that I do. This past weekend, I took my son Henry and wife Holli to the Kaneohe Bay Air Show. The air show was held to commemorate the 100th anniversary of aviation in Hawaii and was the perfect opportunity to let Henry explore all kinds of exciting aircraft, just like I did when I visited air shows as a kid. He can't stop playing with his airplane toys and talking about how he walked inside cargo planes, helicopters, and even tanks. Here are a few pictures:
Henry wasn't too interested in watching the aerobatic performances, but I made it a point to look up and snap some pictures as often as I could. The announcer even mentioned astronauts a few times, naming all of the Mercury Seven, comparing the T-38 trainer that NASA astronauts fly with other fighter jets, and describing how aerobatic pilots must train for and endure G-forces similar to astronauts.
The Navy's Blue Angels were the centerpiece of the air show. Seven of the signature blue Boeing F/A-18 Hornet aircraft had flown for five and a half hours to reach to Hawaii from California. They were accompanied by two tankers that refueled each jet 10 times! Unfortunately, the Blue Angels didn't perform until the end of the day as the finale after we had to go home (Toddlers can't last all day at an event like this.). However, Ryan Ozawa recorded and edited some excellent video of the Blue Angels performance using only his iPhone4. Enjoy!
While NASA wraps up interviewing the second group of finalists to determine its 2013 class of ASCANs, the head of the NASA Astronaut Selection Office Duane Ross gave an illuminating presentation at JSC last Thursday about the selection process. He covered questions ranging from academic degrees to interview questions, medical screening, and Russian language requirements. Pete Dimmick was among those present in the audience. Here are his notes from the event, reprinted with permission: Today I attended a lecture by Duane Ross and his protege, Anne Roemer. Duane has been the head of the astronaut selection process for 37 years and I had a few minutes to speak with them after the lecture was over. Here is what I found out about becoming an astronaut. I won't discuss so much the published requirements, rather I'll be focusing more on the insider things. There have been 257 NASA astronauts over the years and an applicant has a 0.6% chance of being selected. Of those no
In my continuing quest to become an astronaut, I wanted to figure out what the "typical" astronaut's background is like, so I mined the NASA astronaut bios for information. I was interested in the educational, military, selection age, and spaceflight histories of the astronauts, so I focused on that information. I think the plots below speak for themselves, but if you'd like the raw data or have questions, please feel free to ask. Note that I only compiled information on NASA's 126 active and management astronauts. I didn't include the Payload Specialists, former, or international astronauts, although I might go back later and add them to the analysis. I learned that only 36% of astronauts have earned doctorate degrees, but most of the astronauts selected with only a masters or bachelors had extensive NASA and/or military experience. The typical astronaut has one bachelors and one masters degree, although some do have more than one of either type of de
I am an astronaut hopeful – one of thousands of people who somehow never outgrew our childhood dream of going to space. Anyone can hope to be an astronaut, but to be an “astronaut hopeful” one must make a commitment to the goal and proactively work towards becoming an astronaut. The road is long and the outcome is uncertain, but it is in trying to achieve this lofty ambition that we learn to become our best selves. Astronauts train to be some of the most focused, resourceful, healthy and dependable people on the planet. Striving to be more like them can help any person to be more effective in life’s pursuits. Making the decision to do everything one can to actually become an astronaut means learning from astronaut role models and making incremental decisions throughout your life that get you closer to your dream. This week NASA began accepting applications to recruit another class of astronaut candidates (ASCAN’s). More than 6,300 people applied during the last opportunity, from
Regarding the pilot license, I think that with your past experience it should take you a lot less time and money than unexperienced people (like me).
As for the air show, it looks amazing.
Does Holli share your flight enthusiasm?