NASA Johnson Space Center
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
Interviewed by Jennifer Ross-Nazzal
Chantilly, Virginia – 22 March 2012
Today is March 22nd, 2012. This interview with Anne McCombs is being
conducted at the [Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum] Steven
F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, for the JSC Oral History
Project. The interviewer is Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, assisted by Rebecca
Wright. Thanks again for taking time to join us this morning.
Thank you for the invitation.
It’s a pleasure to finally meet. I wanted to ask how you became
involved in the preservation of the [OV (orbiter vehicle)-101] Enterprise.
It was one of the projects that I wanted to work on. We had spent
most of 2003 preparing the aviation side of the Hazy Center for opening,
which occurred in late December, near the 100th anniversary of powered
flight. It was not on the exact date, December 17th, because of the
festivities down at Kitty Hawk [North Carolina], and we didn’t
want the two to interfere.
Once we had opened the aviation hangar to the public we were ready
to proceed with getting the space hangar ready. Of course Enterprise
was going to be the centerpiece of the hall, as it is up until now.
And next month we’ll swap it out for [OV-103] Discovery. I was
among the people who preferred to work at Hazy rather than returning
to [Paul E.] Garber [Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility,
Suitland Maryland]. Given the choice, I was assigned to the crew.
Ed [Edward M.] Mautner was the crew chief, and we also had Steve Kautner
and Tony [Anthony W.] Carp, and others joined the team later on.
Tell us about Enterprise when you first got a chance to go up and
examine what you’d be working on. What was the state of affairs
at that point?
When I first started working for the Smithsonian back in 1988, one
of the ones I asked about was Enterprise because I had not seen it,
and we already had it in our possession. It was at that time in a
storage building on [Washington] Dulles [International] Airport. Having
not seen it, I said, “Well, how big really is it?” and
they said, “Anne, when we moved it, it was like watching an
apartment building coming down the road.” I did have a chance
to see it in that storage building before we moved it here, and then
the next time I saw it was as it was being towed into the building
in 2003. Things were pretty hectic during that year, as you might
It was being towed by a crew that volunteered from United Airlines
[Inc.]. Of course they move big airplanes over at Dulles all the time,
and we were very grateful for their assistance. They had the big tug
that was able to pull an aircraft of that size over from Dulles Airport.
They pulled it in, they centered it very perfectly on the centerline
of the building, and then there it waited until we were ready to start
working on it in 2004.
Did you find she was in good shape, having been in storage for so
The paint was chipped, and externally it was dirty; the paint looked
rough. Otherwise it looked pretty good. Certainly, as restoration
specialists, we see ones that are in a great deal worse condition
than that. Our first reaction was, “Boy, we’re going to
have to climb to work on anything on this ship.” The only thing
you could reach from the ground were the tires. Even the landing gear,
once you got above eye level we were looking at ladders, and then
small lifts. We used those for quite some time. We detailed all of
the wheel wells, cleaning them thoroughly, cleaning the landing gear,
the tires, the accouterments of the wheel well. That was all we could
We had smaller lifts, but we had put out the call to our management
saying, “You have got to get a scaffolding contractor in here.
We aren’t going to be able to do this without scaffolding.”
It took a while to put that together, but in the meantime we were
working from personnel lifts, cleaning the aircraft. I keep calling
it an aircraft because most of what I work on is that. It has wings,
it does fly in the atmosphere, and Enterprise technically would not
be a spacecraft.
We were cleaning the painted surfaces, which are the mock tiles. Enterprise
does not have the real thermal [protection] tiles, something I have
explained to many many many many visitors. They had been painted.
The reports that we got was that it was latex house paint, and it
had weathered and chalked. The big problem we had was that when you
washed it, the chalking would come off and we had to have two sets
of buckets, two sets of rags, two sets of sponges, because the white
would run into the black, the black would run into the white.
We had to very meticulously wipe right at the paint line between the
black and the white, because either one would mark the other badly.
I remember spending a lot of time just cleaning it up. We did not
repaint the tiles, they are as received. We did of course clean them
up, but the paint was, although very chalky, certainly acceptable
for display. That was what we worked on until the scaffolding contractor
About how long did it take for scaffolding to get set up around the
I don’t remember how long between the time that we made the
request and the time that they actually showed up. They set the scaffolding
in like two days; it went very quickly. It was a company called East
Coast Rigging [& Scaffolding], very competent people that do this
sort of thing all the time. At that point we could start in on the
sides of the ship that do not have the mock tile on them, and the
payload bay doors. Those we knew we were going to be repainting, so
we were prepping that for repainting.
We got to the lettering—the name Enterprise, the NASA logo—and
our curator pointed out that NASA’s logo has gone through changes.
It had the “worm,” and then it went back to the “meatball”
was what she told us the colloquial names for them were. She said,
“This is one of the few places in the world that still has the
NASA worm logo on it,” so we really wanted to preserve that.
But since we were going to be painting over it we had to document
that. We had tracing paper up there, we traced it very carefully.
We found that at least the name Enterprise had been painted on it
at least twice in slightly different positions, slightly different
lettering. We felt we needed to record that quite exactly and then
give the curator the choice of version one or version two. To do that,
I traced the upper layer and then very carefully hand-sanded down
to the lower layer so that I could trace that as well. It sounds more
difficult than it actually is, but does take some care.
We did get a tracing of each of those, and then we ended up using
the one that was as received. That was the curator’s choice,
Valerie Neal. We did repaint that, and we found as we worked on it
that that had been painted by hand. So we said, “Hey, this is
great. We get to paint it on by hand.” That was one of the most
enjoyable parts of the whole process, hand-painting the lettering
Enterprise and the NASA logo onto the ship.
You mentioned that you worked with a lot of aircraft. Can you tell
us a little bit about some of the other projects you worked on before
working on Enterprise?
The first one I worked on when I came here was the Hubble Space Telescope
Structural Dynamic Test Vehicle, which is on display in our downtown
museum, our flagship museum. After that, I’ve worked on the
Hughes [H-1] Racer [aircraft], I’ve worked on the Enola Gay
[B-29 aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan,
in World War II]. Done a lot of fabric repairs on our [Curtiss JN-4D]
Jenny [aircraft]. So really covered a lot of the range of the history
In fact just recently we had something of an emergency in the Wright
[Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age] gallery, and so I
did some minor work on the [Wright] Flyer itself, mainly in the process
of protecting it while we did the gallery repairs. Pretty much the
entire history of air- and spaceflight there. I’ll get these
odd stray calls like “Hey, the Nike-Ajax Missile is leaking
again. Can you take care of that?” so I’ll go out and
take care of the leaking missile.
Did you apply any lessons learned from those previous projects to
this effort, or did you think it was something entirely new?
Most of what we do, it’s whatever each artifact calls for. We
get in there and we say, “Okay, if it’s dirty it needs
to be cleaned,” that’s pretty obvious. We figure out what
is the mildest cleaner that is not going to do any further harm and
is going to in fact do the job and get it clean. With Enterprise it
was mostly cleaning, getting ready for the repaint, and doing the
One of the peculiar things that I remember finding as we were cleaning,
was there was one small section on the wing that had—it appeared
to be hundreds of dead ladybugs, in one spot on one wing. Why, who
knows? But that was one of the peculiar things we found. I’m
told that they’re a kind of Japanese beetle, but they look just
I understand that you split up the vehicle into sections, and you
did some work on the interior.
Yes, I did a fair amount of cleanup in the interior, and Ed helped
with that as well. I spent a lot of time in the cockpit, which was
infinitely great fun. One thing I found in the middeck area, is as
it sits on the ground the floor slopes a little bit. The nose is a
little bit lower than the tail. That is surprisingly not just tiring,
but disorienting. You’re working on a slightly tipped floor,
and it’s just enough to throw your equilibrium off to where
you kind of stagger around until you get used to the fact that you’re
working on a tipped floor.
I pretty much detailed all the surfaces in there, cleaning them up,
dusting, and giving them a wipedown with a damp cleanser and getting
them dry. All very routine work except for where you are, and the
fact that you do have a really great view from the windows.
Was the middeck fully outfitted, and the cockpit?
It is not at all; it is stripped. Every single person that comes up
here from [NASA] Kennedy Space Center [Florida] to prepare Enterprise
for its flight to [the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in] New
York [City], the first thing they say is “Oh, she is so different
from the flying ones.” Of course since it’s the only one
I’ve worked on, to me that’s what Shuttles are like. When
we get Discovery that’s going to be the big shock for me. I’m
going to be the one saying, “Oh, it is so different than Enterprise.”
It’s very very empty, very roomy. Has no space toilet. We get
to the upper level of where the pilots would sit—we, up until
recently, had this awful old ladder that was pretty much Enterprise’s
ladder—and it has no seats because after it did its flight testing
it was used for various vibration studies, so they put masses in there.
There’s just basically the big chunks of steel where the seats
ought to be. There is absolutely no cockpit instrumentation, maybe
three instruments in there. I’ve told many people that you could
not legally fly a Piper [J-3] Cub [aircraft] with the instrumentation
remaining in there.
The most common question we get from the public after “Is it
a real Shuttle?”—and the answer is yes, it’s a real
Shuttle but it never flew in space—the next question is, “Can
I go in it?” No, because a) it’s really awkward to get
in and out of, and b) there’s really not much in there once
you do get in. There’s no cockpit equipment, there’s no
seat, there’s not really much of anything. It’s still
really neat to get up in there, but it’s not very much like
a flown Shuttle.
Tell us about working with NASA and USA [United Space Alliance]. I
understand that they were up here doing some work.
They’ve been up here four trips to get Enterprise ready. The
first one was to evaluate it, a thorough inspection to see if there
would be any problems in a potential flight. At that time no one had
any idea whether it was going to be relocated and if so, where. The
second trip was more inspections and they started correcting discrepancies.
The third trip was all about correcting discrepancies. The fourth
trip, which was just completed in February, was the really long one
to put the tail cone and the ALTA [Approach and Landing Test Article]
pods on to prepare it for flight.
At that point virtually all, not 100%, but virtually all of the discrepancies
had been taken care of. For the most part they found her in pretty
good shape, and I’m sure they made their reports. They found
some minor corrosion issues here and there and corrected a whole bunch
of other things, most of which I don’t know the details of.
Wonderful, wonderful people to work with. Very technically skilled,
very much problem solving oriented. The first time they came up we
had a little bit of difficulty unloading a truck, and they seemed
to be absolutely ecstatic at the idea that they had a nice tough problem
to sink their teeth into.
Boy, they hit it with everything they had. We were saying, “Guys,
we really need to take a lunch break. We’ve been going at this
for hours.” “Yeah, okay. Right, right, just a minute.”
And an hour later we would repeat this process. I don’t remember
how long it took to actually tear them away, but they were very intense.
It was really enjoyable.
Tell us about painting the vehicle.
I mostly helped with the preparation for that, getting the old paint
down to a surface where it would be ready for paint. The painting
took place overnight. We needed somebody to be here during the day
as well as overnight, so the overnight crew that did the actual painting
would leave us a list of “please get so-and-so ready.”
That was mostly what I did, and of course a lot of the prep work of
getting the old paint off and/or ready to repaint.
What sort of things would you have to do?
Oh, touching up, masking, moving things from one place to another.
The painting was not the big part of it. Like any homeowner knows,
it’s not the painting, it’s the prep work. A lot of time
spent stripping the paint in various ways. We used scrapers, we used
heat guns. We tried to be as gentle as we could, but still we had
to get in there and get the job done.
The paint was donated. PPG [Industries] came in and very graciously
formulated a special paint, because we could not spray because it’s
in an exhibit space. At that time the hangar was closed, but on view
to the public. The public could come to the entrance of the hangar
and they could look from overhead mezzanines, but they couldn’t
enter the hangar. We had that space to move around our equipment,
but we were on view at all times. Because of that we had to have paint
formulated that couldn’t be sprayed, couldn’t be horrendously
toxic in any way, and had to be applied with rollers. They were gracious
enough to formulate paint specifically for that purpose.
Tell us about doing this preservation work in front of the public.
What was that like? Was that different from the other projects you’ve
It is more like what we’re going to be doing when we move our
restoration shop out here. I have worked both in public view and out
of it, so it doesn’t rattle me particularly. They were far enough
from us that they couldn’t really talk to us directly and distract
us from our work. We were generally wearing harnesses up on a scaffold.
When we came down, we generally would make a point of talking to them
as we went in and out of the hangar, but we weren’t doing it
on an ongoing basis.
One of the situations that arose that we had to correct rather quickly—it
was done in innocence, but the docents are in the habit of using laser
pointers to point out details on the exhibits, because of course a
lot of times what they want to talk about is some ways away from where
their tour is. We had to ask them to not use laser pointers on us.
There’s nothing quite like being six inches away from a surface
that you’re concentrating on, and all of a sudden there’s
a dancing little red or green light impinging on you.
They were real nice about it once we brought this to their attention,
but boy, we came off of the scaffold kind of upset when this first
came up. “What on earth are you thinking, aiming a laser pointer
at us?” That’s a safety issue for us. We were a little
skittish about being up on the scaffold anyhow, and then to have a
distraction like that, that was kind of exciting.
The public was great. They would ask questions, from ones that were
far too advanced for me to answer, down to one memorable person that
came in that was standing there just staring at it for a while. I
said, “Can I answer any questions?” He said, “What
is it?” I said, “It’s the Space Shuttle Enterprise.”
It was obvious that the man had no idea in the world what a Space
I’m thinking okay, we have an adult American in the 21st century
that does not know what a Space Shuttle is. How do I explain this?
Honestly, the man did look like he just fell off the turnip truck,
but I cannot imagine where he had come from that he didn’t know
what a Space Shuttle was. I thought for a second and I said, “It’s
basically a big truck that goes into space and carries cargo into
space.” He said, “Oh, okay.” That was one of the
weirdest questions I think I’ve ever been asked. It was easy
to answer, but it was definitely not a question I was expecting to
Tell us about some of the safety measures that you undertook as you
were working on the vehicle. You mentioned that you were tethered.
We wore the same kind of harness that anyone wears when they’re
doing high lift work, as your NASA people do. It has a body harness
plus a lanyard that you attach to the nearest thing that you devoutly
hope will not collapse when you fall off, generally some part of the
scaffold. We were skittish because none of us had worked on scaffolds
before. After a while, we were climbing around on it. Like anything,
you get used to it. We used lifts, which we’re all pretty much
used to operating from personnel lifts. Tony did most of the highest
high lift work because he did most of the tail repairs.
We would be scrambling around on the scaffolds, and we did find that
we had to redesign the scaffold as we went along to get the access.
Maybe once a week we’d stop and say, “Okay, have we taken
the scaffold apart to the point that it’s too scary for us?
Maybe we ought to put those cross braces back in.” About once
a week we’d do that when we started thinking this is too scary
even for us. I’m sure that it would have been pretty alarming
to the people from Kennedy who have the really sturdy platforms that
they’re accustomed to using.
These are the kind of scaffolds that are used in building work, not
anywhere near as steady. They’re platforms and tubing, so we
would stop every now and then and say, “Okay, the scaffold is
looking a little bit not quite the way we’d like it. We’ll
reset everything.” Every one of us, we’d grab a great
big hammer, wham, wham, wham, take the scaffold apart, move a diagonal
brace here and there, wham, wham, wham, put it back in, and keep on
I understand some of the windows had to be replaced. Did you have
any involvement in that?
Yes, that was I think second trip or third trip. The windows had been
removed as part of the Columbia [STS-107] accident investigation.
There was some thought that debris had struck the windows, and they
were doing some kind of testing and they had to take those windows
out. Our involvement was mostly arranging for equipment, which again
the very nice people at United Airlines were kind enough to loan us
to get access. We really didn’t have a good way of moving these
panes of special glass, which weighed well over 100 pounds.
The folks from USA and NASA did the actual physical work, but we were
doing a lot of the arranging to get the special trucks over here that
had the lift platforms that could be driven into place and so on.
They were a lot shakier than what they’re used to down at Kennedy,
but the USA and NASA folks were real troopers and said, “Well
okay, it’s shaky, but this is what we got, let’s go with
Did you have any involvement with the OMS [orbital maneuvering system]
Oh my gosh, the OMS pods. We went to take the OMS pods off, which
had to be done because we knew eventually the ALTA pods would be replacing
them. Our OMS pods are mostly wood construction with fiberglass, and
the way we lifted them was nothing like what was brought up here from
Florida. We basically used some cables and a strongback. We had figured
out how to rig it so that we could lift it with our crane. We started
to make the lift, and it made a sound that you never ever want to
hear from a suspended load. It made this horrendously loud crack.
We all started screaming, “Put it back, put it back, put it
back, put it back, put it back!”
We said, “Okay, we’re going to rig that differently.”
A couple days later we came up with some slings. The wood was very
very badly deteriorated and it just was not a sound load to lift.
We’re talking about something that’s a little bit bigger
than a Volkswagen bus, it’s larger than a van. It’s up
at that altitude, and it makes this horrendous noise, and we don’t
really want that to get any worse. So we rerigged it with some rigging
slings and were able to bring it down, and then brought the other
one down much more successfully since at that point we knew how to
rig it. That was highly memorable.
The pods went back to the Garber facility where our workshops are,
until such time as we get moved out here. Another team refurbished
them, and that was just an absolutely wretched job. They didn’t
smell good, they were full of mold, the wood was in horrible condition.
We had the head of a mannequin, the decapitated head, sitting around
nearby. He was wearing a hard hat, safety glasses, and a little caption
that said “Ready for another day in the pod?” His name
is Stanley, by the way. There’s a story behind that, but that’s
not related to Enterprise. Old Stanley was our little mascot for the
I understand that you had several notable visitors that came to see
the Enterprise while you were working on her.
We did, we had various astronauts who had flown it or had flown into
space. I don’t retain too many clear memories honestly, beyond
coming down and shaking their hands and being very honored that they
had come. And then back up on the scaffold.
One thing that I remember hearing about was that one of the astronauts—they
took her over to our Shuttle simulator that we have for the visitors
and said, “Why don’t you land the Shuttle?” Of course
she managed that rather nicely on the first try, having done it on
shall we say much more realistic equipment. She said, “Yes,
it’s pretty good realistic simulation.” That’s a
good note, to know that we’re doing that properly.
When you heard that the Enterprise would be going up to New York what
were your thoughts?
As I recall, the day the announcement was made I was at home for some
reason, but I got onto the NASA web broadcast and so I heard the announcement.
We had actually been told ahead of the announcement that Discovery
was going to be coming here. However, we had not heard at all where
the other ships were [going], so my greatest interest was in where
Enterprise would be going. We had been following the stories, so we
had a pretty good idea who the contenders were, but nevertheless I
didn’t really know. It was quite a surprise.
It’s good for New York, we’re sure they’ll take
good care of her. We’ve done our part, and now it’s their
turn. I’m very happy for them. I’m of course sad that
there couldn’t be more Shuttles, because there were some very
deserving candidates that were disappointed. It’s a shame that
there couldn’t be enough for every museum that made the request.
I know NASA made a considerable effort to send [everyone] something
suitable as best they could. I’m really glad that it wasn’t
my decision to make, because that was a very tough decision.
There’s been some heat about that, that’s for sure.
Oh yes. We all read the newspapers, and I know there’s been
some heat. We of course had been sworn to secrecy, even though we
had gone from strong suspicion to certainty ahead of time. We were
always very careful to say, “It’s NASA’s announcement.
We have requested Discovery. We hope that we are fortunate enough
to get her, but we don’t know for sure until the announcement
is made.” We were very careful to respect that request, because
it was important that it come from the appropriate source.
What are you doing to prepare for Discovery’s arrival and Enterprise’s
I have been a liaison, assisting with the crews that have been coming
up from Kennedy since their first visit. I expect it’ll be more
of the same. I and my colleagues are basically available to assist
with whatever they need, and they make requests as they need them.
“Can we get a forklift here? Can you unlock this door? Can we
get a conference room? Can you help us with making connections with
IT [information technology] support? Can you get a fax [facsimile]
sent?” Small things, but they’re necessary. A lot of setting
of stanchions to provide as much access as we can while still providing
safety, so I expect that will continue during the festivities.
Of course when Discovery arrives and Enterprise departs, the order
of magnitude goes up by several times in the number of people who
are paying attention, the number of important people who are going
to be involved in the celebration. It’s going to be a very very
busy time. I expect my job is still going to be, “Can you get
this door open? Can you get us into the locked bathroom? Can you go
get us a mop?” Things like that, just because there’s
always somebody that needs to find these detail things.
The job doesn’t go forward sometimes until you get a mop. I
mention the mop because they needed a dry floor mop to close the nose
gear door on Enterprise when they were cycling the landing gear. We
found that absolutely hilarious and absolutely necessary at the same
time. There was this frantic search for where can we get a good floor
mop, because we have to close the doors of the landing gear.
This morning I understand you were moving a flag.
Yes. We had a garrison-sized flag hanging behind the tail of Enterprise
in the space hangar. That has been on display since before we opened
this museum, first in the aviation hangar, and then in the space hangar.
It’s a very beautiful flag. It’s also very very large,
25 by 35 feet as I recall, so it needed to be removed. That’s
another question that we often get asked, how do you get the Shuttle
in and out. People are looking at the back and thinking it’s
not going to fit through the door. So I tell them that’s right,
it doesn’t fit through the door. There’s a part of the
building that we remove.
The flag hangs in front of that cutout that clears the tail fin. We
could see that when one goes out and the other comes in, that flag
is going to have to be out of the way. That’s just another detail
that we needed to take care of. We had our Office of Protection Services
Honor Guard come to handle the flag once it got to where a person
on the ground could reach it. Jeannie Whited and I went up in a 120-foot
lift and detached it from its hanging bar and lowered it.
It all went really well, except for the part where the lift decided
to throw a temporary hissy fit. We finally got that sorted out, and
once it got down to where the Honor Guard could get ahold of it they
took it from there and did a fine job. We had spent quite a lot of
time discussing various scenarios for how to do that. Even though
it’s a small detail, it had to be done correctly.
Rebecca, did you have any questions for Anne?
Looking back at its time here, is there a special memory that you
have since you’ve worked with Enterprise?
I’ve gotten a real kick out of the times that we’ve taken
the group photos with the NASA people—NASA and USA and [the]
Boeing [Company], etc. Among us, we just tend to call them the NASA
people, as in, “They’re coming on such and such date.”
Those have been a lot of fun, “Everybody get together; we’ll
get the picture now.” They’re a great group of people
and I’ve enjoyed working with them.
This last trip, as they were getting ready they were all staying at
a certain hotel nearby, who graciously said, “Can we do something
special for you?” They said, “Yes, let’s have a
Super Bowl party.” So we had this tremendously fine Super Bowl
party. I and my husband and one of the other escorts and their wife
came out. That was a really good time. It was just a nice everybody
get together, have a good time, and feel like part of the team for
We understand that Discovery is supposed to be arriving on April 17th.
Weather permitting and if all goes to plan, at what point will Enterprise
come out of the building?
It will be either the morning of the ceremony or the night before.
I think it’ll be the morning of the ceremony, early in the morning
we’ll have the building ready to go. The panel that I mentioned
will have been removed and it’ll go outside. It’ll be
sitting outdoors, and when the ceremony begins Discovery will have
been towed from where it was demated to our “haul road,”
basically our taxiway that goes over to Dulles Airport.
It’ll all be lined up and ready to go. It will be towed in,
but Enterprise will already have been placed in position that morning.
I imagine it’ll be a long day that day. We’ll start early
early in the morning, and we’ll be going with great enthusiasm
all day. It’ll be a lot of fun, and we’ll be really tired
at the end of the day.
Then Enterprise will make its way to New York.
Enterprise will be towed immediately to—right now it’s
called Apron Bravo. It’s a large paved pad over on Dulles Airport.
It’s an absolutely wonderful location for everything except
access, but it is a huge concrete pad that has plenty of room and
is not in anybody’s way as far as the airport operations. Enterprise
will go there immediately that evening, and the mating procedure with
the 747 [Shuttle Carrier Aircraft] will start right away.
She has to spend the night outside for a few days.
She’ll be outside for a few days, as Discovery will be outside
for a couple of days. The reason we keep emphasizing so heavily “weather
permitting” is they’re going to be looking at a weather
window of about a week to try to prevent or minimize any chance of
exposing it to anything other than beautiful clear skies and sunny
days. Of course weather being what weather is, we’ll get what
we get. But that will be determined as we get closer to the date and
they can get better weather forecasts. Certainly we’re all keeping
our fingers very much crossed for good weather because that’s
the one thing that we can’t plan ahead for. We just have to
take what Mother Nature gives us.
Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you thought you’d
like to talk about, or any other anecdotes that you remember?
I will mention one other thing. We talked about the interior, and
I did work in the cockpit area, but actually I did work also in the
payload bay, and that’s really my favorite part. That is a marvelous
space to be in. I was not part of the crew that did this, but we put
a catwalk inside there because otherwise moving around in there is
really really awkward. I just loved going into the payload bay and
walking on the catwalk. Spent a lot of time in there cleaning too,
There was one thing that was amusing when I was in there one day.
The way we got in there, there’s a hatch in the right wheel
well. We climb up the ladder and go through this hatch and into the
area. I heard voices, and I poked my head out, and there was a couple
people right below me, one of the curators and a visitor. I said,
“Hi, can I help you with anything?” which surprised them,
because they didn’t expect that. It was the head of space history,
Roger [D.] Launius. The visitor looked up and said, “Can I go
in there?” I said, “If it’s okay with the curator,
it’s okay with me.” He said, “Yes sure, go ahead.”
The guy came on up, and turned out it was a reporter from the Washington
Post. I told him how to climb in. There’s a little bit of a
trick to it. He got inside, and the very first question he asked was
“Why is it green in here?” which just amused me. I explained
that’s a corrosion-preventive coating. It’s always that
color because that’s the color that chemical is, it’s
a zinc chromate compound.
He wrote this lovely article and it started out, “Here I am
standing in the absolute pinnacle of human technical achievement,
and here is Anne McCombs, running a vacuum cleaner.” I thought
that was hugely entertaining. Still have that clipping somewhere,
it’s one of my favorites.
Well, thank you.
Thank you very much for your time.