NASA Johnson Space Center
Oral History Project
Edited Oral History Transcript
L. "Hoot" Gibson
Interviewed by Jennifer Ross-Nazzal
Houston, TX – 1 November 2013
Ross-Nazzal: Today is November 1, 2013. This interview with Hoot Gibson
is being conducted in Houston, Texas, for the JSC Oral History Project.
The interview is Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, assisted by Rebecca Hackler.
Thanks again for taking time out of your day to spend some time with
Good to be here. We should have done it yesterday when it was all
raining, but good to be here.
That would have been better, because now you’re stuck inside
and it’s really nice out. I thought this might be an interesting
question to start with: your nickname is Hoot, how did you get that
It’s a very unoriginal nickname. I’m very fond of saying
I got it because of the expression “not worth a hoot,”
but in actuality, it was from the cowboy movie star of the 1930s,
who was called Hoot Gibson. If your last name is Gibson, you’re
most likely going to get “Hoot” for a nickname. I have
known several others. My dad told me that when he was younger, it
was one of his nicknames. He would get called Hoot Gibson. Once I
got to my first fighter squadron, I remember the operations office
asked me, “All right, kid, you got a nickname?” My first
name is Robert, so I said, “Well, yes, sir—Bob.”
He goes, “No, come on, I mean a real nickname.” I said,
“Well, occasionally I’ve been called Hoot,” and
that was it. That went on my airplane, that went on my nametag, it
went on my coffee cup. So, from that day on, I wasn’t Bob anymore,
I was Hoot.
There was a funny story. My dad showed up at a lecture that a couple
of the guys from my squadron were giving, and he walked up to them
afterwards and said, “Hey, I’m Paul Gibson; my son is
a pilot in your squadron.” They said, “Who’s that?”
He said, “Bob Gibson.” They looked at him, and they said,
“Bob Gibson? Bob Gibson? We don’t have a Bob. Oh, you
mean Hoot.” My name had changed so thoroughly that most nobody
knew what my real name was.
That’s funny. I told my husband I was going to be interviewing
you today and I asked him that question, he said, “Oh, I wonder
if it’s because he’s such a hoot to be around?”
I said, “I don’t know.”
Not worth a hoot.
That’s a good story. Tell us about your interest in space and
aviation as a kid.
Aviation, I was involved in literally from the time I was an infant,
and that’s because Mom and Dad were both pilots. In fact, that’s
how they met. My mother decided that right out of college she was
going to learn how to fly. She and two of her girlfriends from college
bought an airplane, which was called a J2 Taylor Cub, and were learning
how to fly that airplane, and that’s how she met my dad. That’s
how they got together, was through the flying. From the time I was
a little kid, I’ve been flying with them. I did all the typical
pilot things: soloed on my sixteenth birthday and had my private pilot’s
license when I was 17. And so, [I] had been involved in flying, like
I say, literally all my life. Pretty well knew that when I finished
college I wanted to go fly jet fighters. That came to be because I
did sign up for Navy flight training, and I think you wanted to go
into that, right? Into that part of the story?
I signed on with the Navy while I was still in college, although I
didn’t do anything with them other than take my oath of office
and be sworn in and then be given orders to go back and finish college.
When I graduated from college, I was hoping they’re going to
tell me, “Okay, you’re graduating here June 7, we want
you to report September 10,” or something like that, so I’d
have the whole summer in California. No, June 24, so I had two weeks
and then reported to [Naval Air Station] Pensacola to start Officer
Candidate School. Once I finished Officer Candidate School, which
was about 16 weeks or so, then it was off into pilot training in the
Navy. That altogether takes about a year and a half. I started in
the end of June 1969, and I pinned on my wings in January of 1971,
so just a hair over a year and a half.
From there, I got sent to what the Navy called a RAG, the Readiness
Air Group, for the F-4 Phantom. I wound up getting my first choice
of assignments out of pilot training, and that was in the F-4s. It
shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to get through, but they
had an unacknowledged pool of pilots in this squadron, so it was eight
months before I made my first flight in the Phantom from the time
I got there. Immediately, I went right on through because, of course,
at this time, the Vietnam War was fairly well raging.
I finished my training, and I got packed up and shipped from San Diego
[California], which is where the squadron was and where I was based.
All of the Navy fighter squadrons on the West Coast were based out
of Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego. When I finished my training,
I had done fairly well, and so they sent me off to join a carrier
in the Gulf of Tonkin engaged in combat operations already. For a
normal flow, what you would do is you’d finish the training
squadron, the RAG. You’d go to an operational squadron, and
you’d be in San Diego with them for six months or seven months
and then hop aboard the carrier and sail across to Southeast Asia.
In my case, I just packed my bags and flew over and joined the USS
Coral Sea in the Gulf of Tonkin, so, golly, within two weeks of when
I finished the squadron, I was flying combat missions over Vietnam.
Had you flown into and onto carriers before that time?
Yes. Going through pilot training between basic training, you will
do four carrier landings in a basic type of jet, and then in advanced
training, it’ll be a high-performance swept wing jet, the TA-4
Skyhawk, and you’ll make six landings in that airplane. Then,
you receive your wings. All of those are daytime, however, and then
when you go to the RAG, the F-4 Phantom RAG, now you’re going
to get something like—how many landings was it? It was like
18 landings, and for the first time, you’re going to go to the
ship at night. You’re going to get night carrier qualified as
well. I’m thinking it’s something like 10 night landings
that you’ve got to get, so it’s fairly involved to get
through all of that. So yes, I was all qualified to be launching off
a carrier and coming back, so at that point, I had somewhere around
25 or 30 carrier landings at that point. We were flying every day,
sometimes twice a day, so I built up carrier landings very rapidly
flying the combat missions that we were doing.
This was 1972, and that was a very intense year of the Vietnam War.
In fact, it was the most intense air war in all of the Vietnam War.
The air war in 1972 is what finally brought them, the North Vietnamese,
to the negotiating table and basically ended hostilities there and
got us back all of our POWs [Prisoners of War]. It was all of the
action of 1972 that brought them to the table. At this point I was
all of 25 years old, flying combat missions over North Vietnam, and
we went everywhere. We went to Hanoi and Haiphong and all of the high
threat areas, and we were confronted with surface to air missiles
and AAA, which is anti-aircraft artillery. There was plenty of threat,
and in fact, my carrier on that cruise, the USS Coral Sea, had nine
airplanes shot down. We had nine airplanes that we lost in combat,
so it was a very intense year of warfare and explains why when I flew
home after that cruise—we came back, I think it was July of
1972. When we got within about 300 miles of the California coast,
we launched off all the airplanes that we could launch, so I flew
back into San Diego. Dad and Mom were there, waiting, and that’s
when Dad told me, he said, “You will never know how, for the
last six months, I wished I’d never taught you to fly.”
I can imagine that must have been heartbreaking for them to watch
Yes, Dad was not happy with it. He was really pleased and really happy
that I had done so well flying and that he was the one that taught
me how to fly, but I can just picture him sitting there, reading the
news every night, and reading about another couple of airplanes shot
Did you have any close calls when you were over there yourself?
I never got hit. I had lots of projectiles go by me very close but
never got hit. I would say not really, not really any close calls.
Yes, it obviously bothered him a lot more than it bothered me. People
ask me if I was scared. I don’t know that I’d use the
word “scared.” I was very apprehensive. When you’ve
got tracers coming by your canopy, it’ll get your attention.
Those really light up the sky, but the ones that are a lot more dangerous
were the radar-guided antiaircraft guns, where they’d have a
radar tracking you, feeding that information to a computer, and the
computer aims the guns at you. It knew how to lead you, it knew where
you were going, and that’s why when you were flying over North
Vietnam, you never flew in a straight line for more than 4 seconds
at a time. You were constantly jinking, what we call jinking, so you
might be straight for a couple of seconds, looking somewhere, and
then it’s time to change altitude, change direction, because
this radar is projecting your flight path and it’s going to
put a bullet—sometimes these were big bullets; the normal ones
were 57-millimeter, which is golly, 57-millimeters is almost a 3-inch
shell—and they could put it right where you’re going to
be in 8 seconds, so you don’t want to be there 8 seconds from
Was that something you had practiced training before you went, or
was that something that they had told you when you got there?
Both—you got told it, and we also flew missions in the simulator.
Before I finished the RAG, you’d fly missions in the simulator.
If you weren’t jinking, they’d shoot you down in the simulator,
and they’d say, “Okay, you forgot to jink, didn’t
you? So you just got shot down.” Fortunately, just in the simulator.
It was sort of engrained by the time you went over there?
Yes, oh, yes.
What did you do once you came back to the States?
That was just my first cruise, and then I came back from that cruise,
which for me was 1972. The ship had actually left the end of 1971,
so I made about half of that cruise. That was the only combat cruise
that I wound up making. We were due to go back in February of 1973,
February 9, 1973 is when we were supposed to leave, and on January
31, the ceasefire was signed. We got delayed by a month, they gave
us an extra month, and we didn’t leave until March. In the meantime,
we got a bunch of new pilots. Some of our older pilots rotated out
and we had new pilots, new back-seaters. The Phantom had two people.
It had a pilot and a radar intercept officer in the back seat, who
is not a pilot, our radar operator. So we had a bunch of new people
I got picked, even though I was one of the junior pilots in the squadron,
to go to “Top Gun” on that turnaround. I’m trying
to remember, it would have been August or September of ’72,
I went through the “Top Gun” training course, which of
course got made really famous by the movie, 14 years later. Golly,
what a fascinating thing that was, to get to do “Top Gun.”
My first dogfight was against [Randy] Duke Cunningham, the Navy’s
MiG Ace. Turns out he shot down his third, fourth, and fifth MiGs
on May 10, 1972, which was a day that I flew a combat mission as part
of a big strike group from the Coral Sea, and Mike [Michael L.] Coats
flew a combat mission as part of a strike group from the Kitty Hawk.
He flew a strike that day as well. In fact, the Coral Sea went in
first, and there were no MiGs that came up. Then the Constellation
went in and got jumped by a dozen MiGs, and that’s when Duke
Cunningham, Randy Cunningham, shot down his third, fourth, and fifth
MiGs to become the first Ace of the Vietnam War. Then, Mike Coats
and the Kitty Hawk came in after that. They’d all been shot
down by then, so there weren’t any more MiGs left. Not really;
there were still plenty of MiGs left, but they had been beat up so
bad, they didn’t come up.
Brewster [H.] Shaw flew that same day. He was an Air Force F-4 pilot.
I saw a book written by Jeff Ethell [Fox Two: America’s First
Ace in Vietnam], well, I bought the book and read it, and Jeff Ethell
didn’t even mention that I flew that day, but he did mention
that future astronaut Brewster Shaw flew out of Thailand, I think.
We had a number of Space Shuttle astronauts that were involved in
the Vietnam War and even specifically May 10.
My first dogfight was against the Navy’s MiG Ace, and he was
in a stripped-down, souped-up A-4 Skyhawk, and I didn’t shoot
him down but he didn’t shoot me down, so that was a pretty big
victory for me, not to get shot down by the Navy’s Ace. “Top
Gun,” like I say, was really, really fascinating. Then we went
ahead and left on cruise March of 1973, and we really didn’t
do much of anything over there. We were still in the Tonkin Gulf,
off the coast of Vietnam. We did some photo reconnaissance; we did
some monitoring of what was going on, but no combat flying. We did
a lot of night flying. Towards the end of that cruise, at this point,
it’s about time for me to rotate from sea duty, which would
be a sea-going operational squadron, back to shore duty.
The commanding officer of the squadron came to me one day—and
he just happened to be a back-seater, and he just happened to be my
back-seater because he had chosen me to be his pilot, so he must have
felt I was pretty good because the senior radar intercept officers
in the squadron wanted to fly with the more safe pilots—and
said, “How would you like to make another cruise?” I’m
thinking, “Oh, no, it’s time for me to go to shore duty.”
I said, “Oh, Skipper, I don’t know.” He said, “In
the F-14 Tomcat.” I said, “Really?” The Tomcat was
just coming to fruition then and was just getting ready to join the
fleet. It turned out that they looked at the first two squadrons,
and they said, “You know what, we don’t have enough junior
pilots in these squadrons.” They were heavy on more senior pilots.
They said, “We need some more relatively junior pilots, so we
want three pilots from the West Coast and three pilots from the East
Coast.” The East Coast fighter squadrons were based at Oceana,
Virginia, which is right near Virginia Beach, Virginia.
They were going to pick three pilots that had at least one cruise
and were relatively junior. I had a cruise and a half. I wound up
being one of the three pilots picked off the West Coast to go to Fighter
Squadron 1, which was, along with Fighter Squadron 2, [one of] the
first two operational Tomcat squadrons. I joined that squadron, and
this time I had a normal turnaround. I joined them in December of
’73 and then we left on the first cruise the next September,
September of ’74. We went to the Tonkin Gulf, and at that point,
things were falling apart in South Vietnam. I remember there was a
press release that North Vietnam issued that said we were there saber-rattling
and brazen provocateurs is what we were for being in the Tonkin Gulf
with this brand-new fighter, the Tomcat. We didn’t do a whole
lot. We sailed the Tonkin Gulf, we did flight operations in the gulf,
just to let them know we were there.
South Vietnam was falling apart very rapidly. We were supposed to
have left and come home, I think, in March of ’75, and all of
a sudden, it developed that South Vietnam was just going to fall.
We were extended an extra month to provide fighter cover for the Fall
of Saigon. Over there it was April 29, 1975. Over here, because of
the International Date Line, it was April 30, 1975. That’s the
day Saigon fell, and that’s the day that we launched all the
helicopters in to pick up the last few Americans and the last few
Vietnamese who had worked with us very closely and a large number
of members of their military and their families. I flew fighter cover
that day, overhead Saigon, the very last day of the Vietnam War. The
helicopters came in and picked everybody up, and they were landing
on the rooftops around Saigon, and on the embassy grounds in Saigon.
Like I say, I flew one of what we called Combat Air Patrol, or CAP,
mission overhead, armed to the teeth, in case they shot any of our
helicopters down or shot at us or anything like that, none of which
happened. They just wanted to let us get in there, get our people,
and get out, so they didn’t shoot at us at all.
They called it a combat mission, so I had one combat mission in the
F-14 Tomcat. It turned out to be my very last carrier landing because
when I came back in and landed after that one, we buttoned everything
up and pulled out and headed back to California. I got back from that
cruise and then I did go to shore duty as an instructor in the F-14
Tomcat, but I didn’t want to be there. I had someplace else
I wanted to be, and that was Test Pilot School. My dad had been a
test pilot and an aeronautical engineer, so I’m sure there was
a bunch of hero worship, and he was my hero. I wanted to be an aeronautical
engineer, and I wanted to be a test pilot. I actually had a little
bit of trouble getting to Test Pilot School because the Navy had said,
“F-14 Tomcat training is so expensive that once you get into
the Tomcat, you can’t come out of it.” Only they had let
one of my squadron-mates go the year before to Test Pilot School,
and then I guess maybe they made the rule after he went. They said,
“We’re not going to let anybody get out of the F-14 Tomcat.
Once you’re in it, that’s all you’re going to do.”
I really wanted to go to Test Pilot School. I wound up working as
an instructor in the F-14 Tomcat for about nine months.
Meanwhile my Air Wing Commander found out about all this, and he was
an air wing commander aboard the Enterprise. He was a Test Pilot School
graduate as well, and a former test pilot, of course. He was determined
he was going to help me, so he actually called the skipper of Test
Pilot School and told him, “Hey, there’s a guy that you
need to have there.” I was a little bit embarrassed by it all,
and I was a little bit put off by it all, Next thing I knew I got
a call from the commander of the Test Pilot School, telling me that
the reason I hadn’t been picked was that the Bureau of Personnel
had refused to let my application go to the board for the Test Pilot
School. So he said, “Send it directly to me,” so I mailed
it directly to him, and then lo and behold, the very next selection
board, I got picked for Test Pilot School. The thing was, I was a
really good candidate for Test Pilot School because I had an aeronautical
engineering degree, and many of the test pilots don’t have an
engineering degree. You could have a history degree and get picked
to go to Test Pilot School, but I also had, by now, fleet experience
in two different types of fighters. That’s a very valuable thing
for a test pilot.
That’s what got me to Test Pilot School, was a whole bunch of
help from buddies who had been to Test Pilot School. Rick [Frederick
H.] Hauck had been the Air Wing Operations Officer aboard the Enterprise
on my last cruise, and he was a Test Pilot School graduate. Like I
say, I had a bunch of help from people to get my name in front of
the Skipper of the school. That was a one-year course, and I’ve
never worked harder in my life than Test Pilot School. College was
not quite as difficult, even astronaut training wasn’t as difficult
as Test Pilot School. I did very well in it and went to flying test
flights in the F-14 Tomcats, which you always have continuing projects,
even though the airplane’s operational and it’s out in
the fleet now, there were several malfunctions that happened. In fact,
one accident that killed my roommate. “Hoot, go do some flight
testing and figure out what in the world happened here.” We
also had an incident where an airplane lost three-quarters of its
roll control, so what in the world happened there? You’re doing
flight tests like that. I also had a major new project for the Tomcat,
and that was the first reconnaissance version of it. I got to do first
flight in that and all the structural demonstration, which involves
high-G, high mach number, 6.5 Gs at one point, 1.65 mach, rolling
turns and things like that. Did all the envelope expansion, structural
About that time, NASA went out with the call, the very first call
for astronauts in nine years. It had been 1969 since we had had any
new astronauts come in, and I’m pretty sure those were the Manned
Orbiting Laboratory guys. They had not picked astronauts since then
because they just didn’t need any. I had not really been interested
in being an astronaut prior to Space Shuttle.
You hadn’t followed the space program?
Oh I followed it, I watched it, I watched the Moon landing. I was
in Officer Candidate School at the time. We were all living in the
BOQ, the Bachelor Officers Quarters, and we didn’t have a television,
so four of us hopped in one of the guys’ cars, went and rented
a motel room for the night that had a black and white TV in it, just
so we could watch Neil [A.] Armstrong get out and step foot on the
Moon. I was fascinated by it, but I had no interest in doing that
because I was an airplane person, and none of those had wings on them.
Now, all of a sudden, one day I’m looking at Aviation Week magazine,
and I flip the page, and here’s an artist’s concept of
a Space Shuttle flying a reentry to come back in and land. This is
like the Walt Disney series of the 1950s, the three-stage rocket to
space that had the big Delta-Wing Glider on top of it, that, of course,
I got to watch on TV. My mom even had the book by Willy Ley, and it
was called Space Pilots. I was interested in a space ship that had
wings on it and flew a gliding reentry and landed on a runway. I remember
looking at that picture and saying, “Oh, man, I have got to
get me one of those.”
From that moment on, I was hooked. It really didn’t change my
direction in the Navy any, and this happened before Test Pilot School.
I knew I wanted to be a test pilot anyway, but if you wanted to be
a Space Shuttle pilot, I knew I would have to be a test pilot as well,
so it really didn’t change anything. It just really enforced
the idea that, okay, I have got to get through test pilot school because
I want to fly those. I guess I made that pretty well known to Mom
and Dad, and I remember when they rolled out Enterprise, I think I
was at Patuxent River [Maryland] then, which is the Test Pilot School
or the Flight Test Center. Dad called to tell me that he and Mom had
driven up to Palmdale [California] to go see the roll-out. I said,
“Why’d you drive all the way there to see that?”
He said, “Because I knew some day you’d be flying them.”
Your dad really was a big proponent and supporter of your dreams,
Yes, he was, and he was a big fan. Of course, I had to apply to the
Navy, and the process was going to be NASA asks the Air Force, the
Navy, the different services, to do a screening. The Air Force and
the Navy were supposed to pick 45 pilots and 45 other-than pilots,
and the Navy did that. The Navy picked 45 and 45. The Air Force was
supposed to do that, and they didn’t. They picked 75 pilots
and 45 other-than pilots and sent all those names in. I had to get
through the Navy selection board first, and that was just a paper
selection. I didn’t have to go interview or anything like that.
That all worked, I got through the Navy selection board, and then
NASA started interviewing for that the end of 1977. I remember Free
Flight number 1 [of the Enterprise], whichever date that was on, I
was there the very next week.
Free flight 1 happened on a Thursday or a Friday in September—pretty
sure it was September—of ’77, and my interview was the
very next week because they had the big gathering in the Teague Auditorium.
We got invited to go to it, the 20 pilots that were there interviewing
that week. Fred [W.] Haise and [C.] Gordon Fullerton got up and told
their story and showed their movies and all of that sort of thing.
It was really cool. I got to go ride in the simulator with, golly,
I guess it was with Fred Haise. What they were doing was they were
wanting to compare the simulator with what they had actually seen
on the first free flight. It was right after the first Free Flight,
the week I got to be there.
Lo and behold, let’s see, they interviewed 208 people altogether,
80 pilots and 120 mission specialists. January 16, 1978, I started
the day just as Hoot Gibson, Navy test pilot, and by the end of the
day, I was Hoot Gibson the astronaut. I remember I actually went in
a little bit late that day because I was flying a test flight in the
morning, and then in the afternoon, I was catching an airliner down
to Orlando [Florida] to work with the Naval Training Center on the
next upcoming F-14 simulator that was being put together. I was giving
a ride to one of my fellow test pilots, who lived about a block away
from me. I picked him up, so I was a little bit later. I got to my
office at, I don’t know, about 8:30 in the morning, and there
was one of those little yellow notes that said, “You were called
by: Please call George [W.S.] Abbey.” I went, “Oh, my
gosh, this can’t be.”
I was hoping that that’s what it was, and I didn’t know
the protocol at the time. It turns out that what the protocol was,
was that George Abbey would call all the ones who had been selected.
If it was somebody else who called you who was a member of the selection
board, it’s because you didn’t get selected. I didn’t
know that at that time, but I still have that note. I’ve kept
that note. Picked up the phone and called George Abbey. George Abbey
told me, “Well, if you’re still interested, we’d
like to go ahead and select you.” I said, “Ba daba daba,
if I’m still interested!” Of course I was.
Of course. Did you tell your parents as soon as you hung up the phone?
Oh, golly, yes. The instruction was, “Hey, the press release
is going to go out later today, so please keep it quiet. Don’t
go write and tell your local newspaper or anything like that, but
keep it quiet at least until the end of the day today,” and
I don’t think I waited until the end of the day. I think I called
Mom and Dad and told them but told them to keep it quiet, too. What
a great day. Then I went and I flew about a 3-hour test flight in
a Tomcat, landed from that, and let’s see, myself and my back-seater
who was on that project with me, we drove to, I don’t remember
where, [Washington] Dulles [International] Airport [Sterling, Virginia]
or Washington National [Airport, Arlington, Virginia], and flew down
to Orlando and got to be in Florida by the end of the day. That was
just a really fun day.
Pretty memorable, I’m sure.
Yes, that was a great day.
Then, a few weeks later, you were invited down here to Houston for
basically a meet and greet, introduce you to the Center. Would you
tell us about those three days down here?
Yes, the phone call was January 16, that’s an easy day to remember,
and then somebody from NASA—I don’t remember exactly who—got
on the phone, but said, “We’d like to have you all come
down here.” It was the end of January, as I remember. I don’t
remember the exact dates. We were down for about three days, and of
course, they toured us around and the press was everywhere. It was
just a real big event because we had not picked astronauts in nine
years, and these were the first group of Space Shuttle astronauts,
35 of us, 15 pilots and 20 mission specialists. First time we had
selected women, so we had our first six women astronauts, and first
time we had picked African Americans. In that group was Fred [Frederick
D.] Gregory, Guy [Guion S.] Bluford, and Ron [Ronald E.] McNair, and
Ellison [S.] Onizuka. I remember a funny story, he was asked by one
of the members of the press, “How does it feel to be one of
the first minority astronauts?” He said, “Minority? I
didn’t know I was one.” That was Ellison. He and I were
officemates for the first four and a half years that we were down
Would you tell us about Ellison? Obviously we’re not able to
interview him. Rhea [Seddon] told us about some of the antics you
guys were involved in.
Oh, golly, yes, did Rhea tell you about some of that?
A few things.
We had more fun at each other’s expense. Shoot, I remember one
time the Roundup, our little newspaper that came out every week, had
a coloring contest. They put out a picture that kids were to color
in. I took a bunch of crayons and went scribble, scribble, scribble,
scribble, scribble, and then on the bottom of it, in very broken writing,
wrote “El Onizuka,” and stuck it up on the bulletin board
up there at the Astronaut Office. Ellison found it and said something
along the lines of, “Damn Hoot,” and pulled it down, of
course. He and I had a lot of funny little tricks and games that we
played on each other all the time. One of the really funny ones that
he played on me was I guess he got one of the secretaries to write
a note that said, “You were called by: please call,” and
he gave me some woman’s name in Bellingham, Washington. I’m
going, “What in the world is this all about?” I returned
the phone call. She got on the phone, and she had no idea what this
was about, “Why do you have a message to call me?” “Well,
I don’t know, why did I have a message to call you?”
A couple days later, Ellison stuck up on our big bulletin board a
newspaper article. This lady was entered in a mud-sliding contest,
and I think she did real well in it because she was real big. She
was a great, big, overweight woman from Bellingham, Washington. Ellison
had tricked me into calling her and then put this up on our bulletin
board. He and I were always playing little games on each other, little
tricks on each other. The pictures you see of him, he’s always
got this, I don’t know, almost mischievous smile on his face,
but a very warm and captivating smile, and that’s what he was
like. I don’t think I ever heard him mad at anybody or grumpy
at anybody, just a wonderful, nice guy.
You mentioned the media interest in the Thirty-Five New Guys, and
I was curious, some of the women have talked about the fact that the
press was so interested in them because there had never been any women
selected before, and of course, the minorities, as you pointed out.
What did the rest of you guys think? The 25 guys who weren’t
unique, you kind of looked like the other guys.
We actually had it made. We had a bunch of briefings in those days,
that we were back the end of January. They said, “We’re
going to make you guys available to the press.” They had a whole
day blocked out for us. The press was going to be able to come in.
They’d take turns, and they’d get to have a private interview
with you and all that sort of thing. The boys all sat around like
this [demonstrates], saying, “Well, shoot. I guess we don’t
have to do anything.” The women and the African Americans were
tied up all day long, from early in the morning until 6:30 at night,
and the rest of us just skated. They really weren’t interested
in talking to any of us. They said there might be hometown newspapers
or hometown television stations that are there to talk to you; none
of that materialized. It was all the women and the minorities. It
was fine with us, actually. Every time we went traveling—we
reported, I guess, in June of ’78, I think it was—when
we would go on field trips, they would have the press in there to
take pictures, of course, same thing. They were interested in shooting
pictures of the women training and the African Americans training.
Like I say, for the rest of us, that’s okay. I get more than
enough attention; I don’t need all the attention when we’re
out training. In fact, that lets us just kind of slip by unnoticed.
So didn’t bother us at all.
What are you recollections of meeting Rhea for the first time? I know
she talks about meeting you and Mike Coats and extending her hand,
which was kind of unusual. Most women didn’t do that.
That’s what I remember. That’s what I remember. In those
days, that must be a different century—well, actually, it was
a different century! It must have been a different era altogether
because when you would meet a woman—even though I was a fighter
pilot, I knew what the protocol was and how to be polite and how to
do it properly—the protocol was you did not shake a woman’s
hand unless she held her hand out. That was what Rhea did immediately.
I was being introduced to Rhea, and I will never forget her reaching
her hand out to shake my hand. I certainly don’t recall any
of the other five women holding a hand out to shake my hand. Rhea,
I believe, was the only one. I was very impressed with all six of
I knew to be selected out of 10,000 qualified applications for a mission
specialist—for pilots, there were only 1,500 for the 1978 selection—there
were 11,500 qualified applications, of which 10,000 were mission specialists,
and that’s because it’s a little less restrictive. Mission
specialists could come from a whole lot of different backgrounds,
but pilot astronauts had to have 1,500 hours of high-performance jet
time. An airliner is not a high-performance jet, so it had to be jet
fighter, jet attack kind of aircraft, and test pilot experience was
highly desired, but in fact, it was required. We’ve never picked
anybody to be a Shuttle pilot that wasn’t a military test pilot.
The six women were one of 10,000 that got selected, so we were very
impressed with all of them.
Mike [Richard M.] Mullane talks in his book [Riding Rockets: The Outrageous
Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut] about how he didn’t really
think that women should have been part of that class, that really
they were kind of soft, especially when compared with the experiences
you talked about, going to fly in Vietnam and things like that. Did
you get that sense, being in the class yourself?
No, I didn’t have that feeling at all. To this day I don’t
see any reason why women couldn’t function in that environment.
The only reason they didn’t before was because they didn’t.
President [Dwight D.] Eisenhower made the decision back in the early
days, when we were getting ready to think about sending astronauts
to space and there was talk about who should we send. “Well,
maybe we should send condemned criminals, that way, if we kill them,
they were condemned anyway.” There were all kinds of fanciful
ideas about who we should send and who we could send, and President
Eisenhower made the decision, no, we were going to select from the
ranks of military test pilots. That’s kind of the way it got
started, and it stayed that way for a long, long time, obviously.
It wasn’t up until late in the game that we picked a group of
scientist astronauts. They had all been military test pilots prior
to that point. It was a natural evolution, although at the time, when
you look at it, we had the requirement and still do, to this day,
that it had to be a college degree in engineering, science, or math.
There weren’t that many women that were in technical degrees
at that time, and it, I’m sure, was a whole lot more effort
for that selection board to find enough women with the technical degrees
that we could interview and could pick. It’s evolved over the
years. I was on three selection boards altogether, two of them when
I was Chief Astronaut because the Chief Astronaut was always going
to be part of the selection board. Rhea and I were on a selection
board together, maybe for the ’92 class or maybe the ’90
Was it when you selected Eileen [M.] Collins? Were you on that board?
No, I was not on that one. She was ’90 class, wasn’t she?
Yes, she was in the ’90 class. Maybe it was after that one;
it might have been the ’92 class. I still remember we just didn’t
have that many women to choose from that met the criteria of qualified,
let alone pilot-qualified. We’ve seen that change dramatically
over the years and I fully expect our Astronaut Corps is eventually
going to get to the point where it’s 50-50 men and women. I
know they’re not there yet, but I think it will be. No reason
not to be.
Yes, the recent class, it was 50-50. That was big news.
Tell me a little bit more about some of the other women in the class,
Judy [Judith A. Resnik] or Sally [K. Ride], Kathy [Kathryn D. Sullivan],
some of your initial thoughts about some of those women.
Judy was beautiful, just gorgeous, and really smart, really driven,
really a hard-charger. Judy frequently was going to speak her mind,
and sometimes annoyed some people because if Judy had something to
say, you were going to hear it. And let’s face it, she was generally
always correct. She was generally always right on, but very forceful,
very driven, and very competent. Golly I flew with her a whole bunch
of times in the T-38s, and she loved what she was doing. Really loved
being an astronaut, loved flying the airplanes, loved going cross-country
and doing all of those things.
Sally was very much like Judy. They were very much the same sort of
women, both very driven. I had pretty well pegged Sally and Judy as
being the first two that were going to fly. Not necessarily in that
order—I didn’t know which order it was going to be—but
they were the two that really showed up in all of the training and
all of the working, and worked on some of the more visible things,
which did make them show up a whole lot better and made them a whole
lot more visible. Very much the same. I actually dated Sally for a
Did you really? I didn’t know that.
Yes, she and I were partners for a while there, before I got tied
up with Rhea. Sally was just a wonderful lady, just really, a wonderful
lady, just a whole lot of fun. Easily as smart as Judy, easily as
capable, whole lot more diplomatic in terms of how she would say things,
or when or where she would say things, and a little bit shy. Just
a little bit shy. Both of them didn’t really enjoy all the press
attention. I think Sally because there was a certain amount of what
I think was shyness in her; Judy because she just didn’t like
it, so a little bit different reasons but they both somewhat tried
to shun the press. And, they’re just not going to be able to
shun the press.
Shannon [W. Lucid] was the one of the original six women that had
a bunch of flying time. In fact, I think she had, like, 1,400 hours
of flying time. I’m trying to think if there was a quote somewhere
that Shannon had more flight time than one of our pilots. Now that
I’ve said that, I don’t think it would have been one of
our pilot astronauts, but maybe one of our pilots out at Ellington
[Field, Houston, Texas], or something along those lines. Shannon was
the matronly one, of course, in our group. Shannon’s the only
one that had kids. Let’s see, of the first six women, only two
of them were married, Anna [L.] Fisher and Shannon were the only two
that were married. Shannon was good old country girl from Enid, Oklahoma,
and talked like a country girl. Very smart. Ph.D. in chemical engineering,
or something along those lines, something in the area of chemical
research or somewhere in there. Very smart, very smart lady, and I
worked with her in SAIL, the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory.
Shannon was in about the third or fourth group of Shuttle astronauts
that got assigned to work over there. I was in the second group. Very
competent and very down to Earth, really down to Earth.
Kathy Sullivan—Kathy, you sometimes wondered if she couldn’t
press more weight than you could in the gym. She wasn’t petite,
but she was athletic. She got out there and ran, and Kathy was very
sharp as well. All six of them had to be very sharp, or we wouldn’t
have picked them out of that kind of a competition. Joined the Corps
and fit right in. I flew chase on STS-2; Joe [Henry] Engle and Dick
[Richard H.] Truly were the pilots on STS-2. Kathy was in my backseat.
I was Chase-1 for STS-2, so I’m the T-38 that joined right up
next to Columbia for the second landing, and Kathy was my constant
companion in that. She had the camera and took one of the most gorgeous
photos to come out of the chase program, and it was the underside
of Columbia with the blue sky and some wispy clouds up above it. You
really can’t see the top side of it all, but just a gorgeous
photograph. A very sharp cookie, just really good.
Anna was another MD, and it was funny that she was picked in ’78
and her husband, Bill [William F.] Fisher, was not picked in 1978.
The debrief to him was, “You didn’t have quite enough
technical background,” so he went out and got a master’s
degree in mechanical engineering and then got picked up in the 1980
class. They were the first American husband and wife couple, because
I didn’t marry until 1981. So, they were there in 1980. Anna
was very shy as well, although very good at public speaking, very
dynamic, but seemed always to be very quiet and very reserved. I didn’t
work with Anna quite as much as I did with the other women in that
group, but very smart, very sharp, fit right in as well. There’s
one left. I can’t think of her. I’m trying to remember,
who’s the other one?
The one who had that Corvette?
Yes! Yes, that’s right, her! Yes, right. I was very impressed
with Rhea right off the bat. As a surgeon—I believe this may
still be true; at least it was true for a number of years when we
were there—she was the only doctor astronaut that we had ever
picked who was beyond being an intern. All the other astronaut doctors
that we picked were in their internship and were just about to finish
or had just finished their internship. She had completed three years
of surgery residency, so of course I may be biased, but Rhea was by
far the most accomplished doctor astronaut that we had ever picked.
She wasn’t as nutty as Story Musgrave, for example, who would
make anybody feel lazy, looking at him with four master’s degrees
and one or two Ph.D.s and a doctor of medicine as well. Story definitely
had accomplished a whole lot, but I believe it’s even true that
even he was just finishing an internship when he was selected. So
Rhea had the most actual doctor experience, and of the two, if you
were going to say—okay, something we probably don’t say
anymore—who are the two that were the most feminine and the
most ladylike, it would be Anna and Rhea. Rhea, just gorgeous and
very polished, very polite, although you cross her or you say the
wrong thing and she’ll politely tell you to go…. I guess
we got together early in 1979, I guess, is when we started dating,
and then it was three years later, in 1981, that she asked me to marry
She asked you?
No, I say that all the time. She just loves it when I do that, but
no, I asked her. We married May 30, 1981. She wanted us to wait until
after STS-1 had happened, which was April 12 of ‘81, and so
then, at that point, we announced that we were going to be married
on May 30. There have been a number of husband and wife astronaut
couples here in the US. Most of them are not still married. Tammy
[Tamara E.] Jernigan and Jeff [Peter J.K.] Wisoff are still married,
but Rhea and I are [one of a select few].
I think Steven and Linda, Steve [Steven R.] Nagel and Linda [M.] Godwin
are still around.
Yes, Steve and Linda are still married, so that’s good, but
a number of the other ones are not still married. I always say it’s
because I am so easygoing and easy to get along with that we have
stayed together for so long. Of course, she makes a funny comment.
I did want to ask you, your class called themselves The Thirty-Five
New Guys. Do you think that the women felt that they were part of
the guys, or the men thought the women were just one of the guys and
part of the gang, or do you think that there was some separation between
I think I called them guys, too, and I considered them one of the
guys. I believe they considered themselves one of the guys. I never
heard any of them say, “We don’t want to be called guys;
we don’t want to be called The Thirty-Five New Guys.”
Never did hear that. I suppose it’s possible, but it would surprise
me. Actually, it would surprise me to hear of any of them saying,
“Well, I object to being called guys.” Never have heard
This was the first time, I’m assuming, that you worked with
a lot of professional women, being in the Navy. Is that the case?
Absolutely. The military did not have that many women back in those
days, which is why Mullane’s comment is kind of interesting.
He felt they were too soft; he felt they didn’t fit in, they
wouldn’t be able to do the job, etc, or whatever it was he said.
I hope I’m not putting words in his mouth. The question that
came up when you were telling me that was, “Mullane, how would
you know?” There weren’t that many women in the Air Force—certainly
not in the circles that we ran around. There weren’t that many
women in the Navy that I had ever encountered, just because it was
years and years before women were allowed to serve in combat roles
and be in combat squadrons aboard combat ships, so there weren’t
any women on aircraft carriers the whole time I was active in the
Navy. The only times you saw women—we had Navy nurses at the
hospitals. In the training squadrons, towards the end of the time
that I was there at San Diego, we were starting to get women in the
RAG squadrons. The F-14 Tomcat Training Squadron, the F-4 Phantom
Training Squadron, we started to get some Navy women in those, but
it was really rare.
Mullane wouldn’t have had any real experience working with women
and having anything to judge that and say, “No, they’re
too soft, they can’t do this.” Yes, it was a change. I
remember when we started flying the T-38s; we, of course, trained
the mission specialist to make the radio calls. Hearing a female voice
on the radio in 1978 was unusual. There weren’t that many. If
there were any airline pilots at that point, there sure weren’t
many, so you just never heard female voices on the radio. We’d
go cross-country in the T-38s and Sally would be making radio calls,
or Rhea’d be making radio calls, and sometimes somebody would
come up and say, “What is this? Who is this flying?” There
weren’t that many women in aviation jobs at the time, either.
That has changed a lot over the years, too.
Was that challenging for you, in terms of when you were working with
them, say, in the T-38s, should you carry their bag, do you need to
help them up into the aircraft? Were there some of those kind of conversations
I don’t know that we talked about it too much, and I don’t
remember ever carrying a helmet bag, for example, for any of the women.
It was just standard that you’d pick up your parachute out of
the parachute room and you’d sling it over one shoulder. The
women would just do that themselves. I would, when we got to the airplane,
usually take her parachute—whoever “her” was—and
take it up in the airplane and connect it to the airplane myself.
I would usually do that because they were bulky and they were heavy.
I don’t think any of the women ever told me, “Get your
dirty paws off my parachute, boy,” or anything like that. The
only thing I remember is one day, we were going over to Building 1
or something, and one of the boys grabbed the door and opened the
door for Sally, and Sally shoved him through the door and held the
door herself. She was smiling when she did it and was being funny
about it when she did it. That’s the only time that I saw anything
that would be, “Knock it off, you chauvinist pig,” or
anything like that.
She definitely made her point, didn’t she?
You guys reported in the summer of ’78: where did you end up
living here, for the first couple of years in Clear Lake?
I bought a house in Nassau Bay, just right over here—1907 Back
Bay Court. It was on a cul-de-sac, and there were three houses in
the cul-de-sac, and right next to me was Owen [K.] Garriott, and right
next to him, on the other side, was Joe Engle. So this was Astronaut
Cul-de-Sac, is what this was. That was ’78. Then Rhea and I
married in 1981. She really didn’t like that house, and so immediately,
she set about looking for another house. That had been Al [Alfred
M.] Worden’s house originally, the house that I was living in.
Rhea set about looking for another house, and she found another house
that was two and a half times as expensive and that had been Rusty
[Russell L.] Schweickart’s house, originally. We sold my house
and bought that house. At the time, it was owned by Craig [L.] Fischer,
who was one of our NASA flight surgeon docs here. He was selling it
because he had a teenage daughter who was having a lot of trouble
with asthma here in Houston. The doctors said, “You’re
going to have to get her out of here,” so he went and moved
the whole family to Palm Springs [California]. He hated to leave.
We bought his house.
That was a waterfront house over on, I guess it’s called Cow
Bayou, which is just off of Clear Creek. If you had a boat, we had
a friend that kept his boat behind our house—we had 100 feet
of bulkhead out behind the house—kept his 30-foot cabin cruiser
back there. We could sail down Clear Creek and through Clear Lake
and out into Galveston Bay from our house. That was the house that
Rhea wanted, and so we lived in that one for 14 years. We actually
moved into the house while Rhea was in the hospital with Paul, giving
birth to Paul, which was July of ’82. She left for the hospital
from the house on Back Bay Court and by the time she came home, we
had moved into the other house, on Barbuda Lane.
Did you have all your astronaut colleagues help you move?
The astronauts moved us, yes. It was Ace Moving Company.
That’s what I was thinking; I couldn’t remember.
The Ace Moving Company is what we were known as. When somebody would
be moving, the word would go out, “Hey, so-and-so is going to
move on Saturday; everybody show up that can help.” You’d
have 25 astronauts show up to help move. Usually, it happened in about
three or four hours, you’d move a whole entire house. They helped
Very nice. I’m guessing more showed up since Rhea was in the
Yes. She had a difficult time with that one, and after something like
14 hours of labor, they said, “This isn’t going to work;
we’re going to have to do a c-section.” They did a c-section
and then baby Paul, when he was born, had lung difficulties, serious
lung difficulties, and got Life Flight-ed up to Hermann Hospital [Houston,
Texas]. Altogether, I don’t remember what day she went into
the hospital, but [it] was like a week before she finally got released.
He was touch and go for about three days, and we weren’t sure
that he was going to stay until about the third day. That was kind
That’s scary. But he’s doing well—I think I met
him when we were out interviewing Rhea a few years ago, in Murfreesboro
Yes, he’s done fine. He’s graduated from college now and
working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant, as a college graduate,
still looking for that career, but yes, he’s done well.
It’s a tough market these days.
Yes, it sure is.
Tell us about those first few days when you came down here to Houston,
being part of that Astronaut Corps, going to that first Monday meeting,
and being introduced to your colleagues.
Part of it was kind of traumatic for us military guys because you
had to decide what to wear. Previously, you got up and you got showered
and shaved and dressed and you put on your uniform and you went to
work. I think Mullane talks about that in his book. He didn’t
know how to dress or what to dress, and Donna had to take him to the
store and pick out some clothes for him. All of a sudden, you had
to have clothes, and none of us had any of that.
I will never forget, I studied the pictures of the 35 of us before
I showed up so that I’d know who it was, because we had only
just met them for that one or two days back in January. Now it’s
June, and I showed up at Building 4. Of course first had to go through
the badge office and get my badge, and parked in the old Building
4 [parking lot]—now it’s called 4-South; it used to be
Building 4—and walked upstairs and went up the stairs, opened
the door and stepped into the hallway, and there was Dick [Francis
R.] Scobee and Judy Resnik. [They] were the first two that I saw.
Of course, the two of them would die on Challenger [STS-51L]. They
were the first two that I saw, and walked up to them and I said, “Oh,
my gosh, it’s Scobee and Resnik,” and shook their hands.
I don’t remember a whole lot about the rest of that day. I guess
the rest of that was finding out where my office was going to be.
Ellison and I got put in one of the few interior rooms that didn’t
have a window. Everybody else had a window. I think there were only
two offices that were on this internal wall over by what was Rick
[Richard W.] Nygren’s office, so we didn’t have a window.
It was Ellison and me in one, and then the other one, I want to say,
was Mike Coats and maybe somebody else. I’m not sure about that,
but I think that’s what I found out the first day, was where
my office was and that Ellison and I were going to be officemates.
When the ’80 class came in, we got Woody [Sherwood C.] Spring
in addition in there, in our office. Ellison and I were in that office
together all the way up until he got assigned to STS-10. It was supposed
to be the 10th mission to launch. What we always did was when you
got assigned to a crew, you moved into a crew office. I guess on a
five-person crew, it was three in one office and two in another office,
right next to each other. We were constantly moving offices around.
Every time we’d have another crew selection, they’d put
out a new office assignment list, and you’d have to move. As
I remember, it was four and a half years that Ellison got assigned
to STS-10 and moved from that office. I, at some point after that,
got assigned to the next mission, STS-11, which turned into [STS]-41B.
When we were first assigned, it was STS-11. At that point, I moved
out of that office and actually got an office with a window.
Got an upgrade all of a sudden?
I understand you guys participated in quite a bit of training. You
were supposed to go through a two-year training period, and it ended
up being about a one-year period. Would you talk about that?
Yes, we really did, we did a lot of training. A lot of it was just
a bunch of really fun stuff that you always said, “Golly, if
I get the time, I’d like to go study geology.” If I got
the time, I’d like to go study oceanography, astronomy, and
all of those things. We were training on all those subjects, and they
would bring some of the world’s experts in to brief us on those
things. A lot of our classes, a lot of our briefings with the scientists
and people like that, were over here in the Lunar Planetary Institute,
right down there on the water. That was always a lot of fun, going
there, because that was such a gorgeous place to be training in. Somebody
recently sent me a photograph of our whole class in the LPI, in one
of those great, big, beautiful rooms that they had in there for training
in, with marble floors and all that. We went around to all the different
NASA Centers. We went down to the Cape [Canaveral, Florida]. Somebody
just sent me a picture of that, too. I know who it was; Nick Thomas
from Astronaut Encounter, down at the KSC Visitors Center, sent two
of those pictures from, I think that was 1978.
We went to JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California],
and that was an interesting visit. We got to JPL and the Center Director
briefed us—and I don’t remember who it was right now.
He basically told us that he didn’t believe that we needed manned
space at all. Talk about what I think nowadays would be considered
an inappropriate subject when you’re speaking to a bunch of
manned space people. It’d be like me going there and telling
him that we didn’t need robots for anything. We did get to see
a bunch of fascinating things, but I’ll just never forget the
director getting up and telling us that, you know, “We really
didn’t need you guys; we really don’t need manned space.”
It’s okay to feel that way, but just don’t say it! We
went there; we went to Ames [Research Center, Moffett Field, California],
of course, and visited up there. We went to all the NASA Centers,
came down to Huntsville [Alabama] and visited Marshall [Space Flight
Center]. I think we went up to Goddard [Space Flight Center, Greenbelt,
Maryland] as well and visited all of those places.
Of course, we were being trained on Space Shuttle systems and Space
Shuttle flight dynamics, although not deeply into it. The training
organization over at JSC was pretty heavily involved in training for
the first four STS flights. Of course, you just had two-person crews,
so each of those two guys on those first four flights had to learn
everything. They had to learn how to do spacewalks, they had to be
able to go outside and winch the doors closed, if you couldn’t
close the doors electrically.
We weren’t seeing much at all in the way of simulator training.
At that time, I think we had the second simulator, what we called
the mission simulator. We had the motion based, and then the mission
simulator also got called the fixed base simulator. I think that one
came on a little later, so we really weren’t doing a whole lot
of training in the simulators. They brought us in when they did, I’ve
been told, because they believed we were within six months of the
first launch, and it actually turned out to be almost three years.
We didn’t train a whole lot after our initial training. I think
after our first year they really didn’t know what to do with
us at that point, and so they said, “Okay, rather than being
astronaut candidates for two years, you’re hereby astronaut
candidates for just one year. As of today, you’re astronauts,
and not astronaut candidates.” We all picked up work assignments.
After three months, after six months—pick a date, something
like that—there was some amount of time when we were just pretty
much indoctrination and training on what NASA was all about and all
After that, we started picking up jobs in the office. I worked initially
as support crew for STS-3, which was going to be Jack [R.] Lousma
as the pilot and Fred [W.] Haise as the commander, just the two of
them, and they were going to do the Skylab re-boost. They were going
to go rendezvous on Skylab on just the third Shuttle flight. They
had this thing called the TRS, Teleoperator Retrieval System, and
it was going to fly over and dock to the Skylab. It was a booster
rocket, so it was going to boost Skylab up higher so that it wouldn’t
reenter. Skylab came down in 1979 and we hadn’t launched yet,
so they never did do the Skylab re-boost.
At some point after that, I got assigned to work in SAIL. As I mentioned
earlier, I was in the second group of astronauts that went over to
SAIL. George did things like this; George Abbey would just get that
camel’s nose under the tent and then take over the whole thing.
Initially he had sent Brewster Shaw and John [O.] Creighton over to
SAIL to help out and to fill in and to do some of the testing. Only
George remembered how back in the Apollo days, the astronauts did
all of the software testing in the certification lab, whatever it
was back then. George wanted the astronauts to be the ones that flew
the SAIL simulators and flew the simulated missions and verified all
the software. George was relentless, and there was a lot of resistance
to it, and George prevailed, as he usually does.
We had a second slug of astronauts that got assigned. Don Williams,
myself, Story Musgrave, six or eight of us, something like that, were
in the second group of astronauts. Later on, in 1980, we brought in
some of the ’80 astronauts. I believe they were doing that all
the way up until the end, where the astronauts were flying all the
missions in the SAIL lab. That was actually extremely valuable because
you really got to know the computer system and the software system
and I think some of the better astronauts at operating the software
in the Shuttle itself had been the guys and gals that worked over
in SAIL because you didn’t need a checklist to bring up a computer.
You knew how to do it by memory because you did so much of it over
there. So, that was really, really valuable training.
I would come up with questions from flying some of the sims over there,
and I’d go ask one of the engineers over there in SAIL. For
example, I remember one time talking about the three inertial platforms,
which are attitude reference and all of our velocity sensing, acceleration
sensing. We had three platforms, and you’d look at it in the
computer and they were at all these different angles. I did not understand
why. Why are they at different angles? What in the world is that all
about? I remember going and talking to one of the engineers and I
said, “Okay, show me what they look like. What do they actually
look like?” He said, “Okay, well, you know where they
are, they’re up in the nose of the Orbiter, they’re on
the navigation platform that’s up there in front of the crew
cabin. One of them sits like this, one of them sits like this, and
the other one sits like that,” and they all had accelerometers
mounted on them. For me, it was valuable just to know, okay, this
bunch of angles that makes no sense to you means this, this bunch
of angles means this, and this bunch means this.
That was what could be so valuable about working in that place. I
kept a great big green notebook—and I’ve still got it,
I still have that notebook where I’d take notes in it when I
was talking to somebody, and write down what the values would be for
certain things and write myself examples of how things worked. It
was just a really, really great learning experience to work over in
the SAIL. You would walk out of there at 10 o’clock at night
sometimes and you’d say, “Boy, today was a complete waste.”
Other times, you’d walk out of there at 11:30 at night and say,
“This is the best job in the whole place.” Didn’t
seem like there were many in-betweens, it was either one or the other,
but most of the time it was, “I sure like working over here.”
That was a really good assignment.
I also understand you did a lot of work with T.K. [Thomas K.] Mattingly.
Yes, T.K. could be very challenging to work for. Rhea must have put
you up to this. T.K. was our supervisor when I worked in SAIL. Every
week, on Monday, we would have to report in to T.K. He was in charge
of an area called, I want to say, development. I’m not sure
it was called development or technology or what it was, but he was
the big boss that the astronauts that worked down at Cape Canaveral,
what we called the VITT team, Vehicle Integration Test Team, reported
to. All of us that worked in SAIL reported to him, and then he had
I don’t know what else, probably the guys that worked out in
Downey [California] at the Flight Software Lab, Flight Computer Lab,
FSL [Flight Systems Laboratory], I think.
I think it was called FCL. I don’t remember what it stood for,
but anyway, the guys that worked in those areas that were developing,
basically, the procedures and actually developing the vehicle for
STS-1 all reported to T.K. I also got to work for a while as one of
the Cape Crusaders. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Cape
Crusaders, that was the astronauts that worked with the VITT team
down at the Cape and actually took part in the testing and the verification,
getting a vehicle ready to go, leading up to, in my case, STS-1. I
worked that part-time as well. That was always interesting, to get
down to the Cape and be in the actual vehicle, in Columbia, doing
some of the testing leading up to first flight.
T.K. could be extremely demanding. What do I mean, could be extremely
demanding? It seemed like no amount of data was ever enough. We would
go in to report to him and all of us that were available on the SAIL
team were supposed to go in for the meeting with him. It’d be
T.K. and it’d be about five or six of us that would show up.
We would bring the log book in, and early in the game we thought we
would just give him a brief synopsis, a brief report, of what we had
done the previous week, what kind of testing we had done. He would
start asking questions, and you wouldn’t always know the answer
to his questions, so he’d assign you an action item.
You’d come out of that meeting with a list of 15 action items,
and everybody would have their own little list of 12 or 15 or 10 action
items that you had to do, because we didn’t tie up his time
well enough. We figured out, finally, we have got to filibuster him
or else we are going to keep getting assigned action items. So we
would go in there and we would read him the log book from the previous
week. We would just read it because as long as we were talking, he
couldn’t be assigning action items. We would literally look
at his schedule, figure out how much time he had. “He’s
got two hours today. Okay, we’re going to have to filibuster
for two hours.” It worked. We would get to the end of it, he’d
look at his watch, and he’d go, “Guys, hey, this is interesting,
but I’m out of time. I’ve got to go to”—and
we’d go, “Oh, okay.” We finally figured that out,
but probably what Rhea told you about was that at one point, while
I was working in SAIL and had other job assignments and other things,
T.K. called me into his office one day. He said, “There’s
an area that I’m concerned about, and that’s external
tank separation and solid rocket booster separation. I don’t
know if it’s robust enough, and I want you to go investigate
it. Why don’t you come back in a week, because I don’t
know exactly what it is I want. Why don’t you come back in a
week and tell me what it is I want.”
I thought, “Well, okay, all right.” I went out and I studied
stuff for a while and I thought about it and I looked in some of the
documentation. I came back to T.K. in about a week, all ready to go
to work, and I said, “Okay, here’s what I think I need
to do. I need to go look at all the wind tunnel testing that was done
of solid rocket booster separation.” You’re still up in
the atmosphere at that point, very much so in the atmosphere. We’re
going 3,000 miles an hour and we’re going to separate the solid
rocket boosters and they’ve both got to separate. “So
the software that goes into that and all of the dynamics from the
wind tunnels that tell us that yes, we can do this. I’m going
to go look into all the wind tunnel testing. I’m going to go
look at all the hardware design and the hardware testing that’s
gone into it and the verification effort that’s gone into it.
I’ll go do that for the solid rocket boosters, and I’ll
go do that for the external tank.” That’s what I did.
I met the subsystem managers. Mark [K.] Craig was the subsystem manager
for which one? Barney [B.] Roberts was the other one, the subsystem
manager. I think he was solid rocket boosters, and Mark Craig was
the external tank manager for that part of it. I must have tied those
guys up for, shoot, half a day for two weeks each, something like
that, just getting their take on things and what had gone before.
I went out to California, to Downey, to go look at the separation
testing that was being done for the external tank, because that was
associated with the Orbiter. I went and looked at hardware and looked
at how they had done the actual firing of the explosive bolts out
there. I, after about two months or so of intense research, had a
book this thick full of stuff. I went back to T.K. to deliver him
my final report, and guess what? I walked out of there with three
pages of things for me to go do in addition. I went back to work,
and I went all through those three pages of things and addressed every
single one of his questions or his comments. “What about this,
what about that,” and spent another month and a half or two
doing that. Thought, “Okay, this is the end of it this time.”
I went back to T.K., and guess what happened? The same exact thing
happened. I walked out of his office with another two-page thing,
and I finally said to myself, “Okay, I see this is a never-ending
job, so I’m just through with it.” I didn’t do anything
else on it, and he never called me on it, never called me back. I
think maybe what happened was about this time, he got assigned to
STS-4. Might have been what saved me, was that he got assigned to
where he had to start training, and he moved off of that job.
In the course of it, I sure learned a lot about external tank separation
and about solid rocket booster separation. I think I’ve got
a copy of the SODB, the Shuttle Operational Data Book, and it had
all those results of the wind tunnel testing and all the runs that
were made. I wound up learning a whole heck of a lot from it. It’s
just that there was never going to be a finish line on that little
You could never have the exact right answer for him.
Yes, it would never be finished. He was never going to say, “All
right, good, I think I’m happy with it, nice job.” I don’t
think that was ever going to occur.
You mentioned you were working at SAIL; you were doing this work for
T.K. Mattingly. Would you talk about what your work hours were like
at this point? Were you working every day? Were you working 9:00 to
With SAIL, it varied. I’m trying to remember now what the hours
were. SAIL was a three-shift operation. They were working around the
clock. We wouldn’t necessarily be there for the midnight to
8:00 AM shift, and so I guess the shifts were 8:00 until 4:00, 4:00
until midnight, and then midnight until 8:00, I guess, were the three
shifts. Generally, we were working first shift and second shift, and
so we would always have at least one astronaut over there, although
we had different jobs. One job that we had to do was to review all
the test procedures that would get printed, and virtually every day
in our in-basket there would show up what was called TCPs, Test and
Checkout Procedures. So one astronaut would be assigned TCP review
for the whole week. It was your job to get over there, and sometimes
it could be a mountain of paper that was in that inbox. You had to
go through and review it for accuracy. We always wound up making little
changes to it and corrections to it. That would be one of the jobs
that was over there.
There would be meetings. I think another astronaut would be assigned
to the TCP review meetings, because they would get together when they
had one and everybody would provide their inputs to it, and then from
there, it would go to a final TCP. Then, you could run it in the simulator.
The really wonderful thing about the SAIL lab was that it wasn’t
simulated equipment, it was real hardware. You had the real Space
Shuttle computers, you had real rate gyros, you had real accelerometers.
You even had the cable trays, so you had the cables that ran from
the nose section of the Orbiter. We had an Orbiter cargo bay with
all the electrical wires and things running back to the aft avionics
compartment as well, which is where a lot of the electronics that
controlled the main engines and the fuel lines and a lot of stuff
that was back there in the back would be located back there. We wanted
to have all the cable lengths because that can make a difference in
the electric signals getting through. It was a fascinating place to
work, but sometimes we had to support three-shift operation.
We had two test stations: we had the STS and the GTS test station.
The GTS stood for GN&C [Guidance, Navigation, and Control] Test
Station, and the STS stood for Shuttle Test Station, I guess. That
was the whole length simulator, was the STS. The GTS was basically
just a cockpit, but it still had real, genuine Shuttle equipment.
It wasn’t as high fidelity an instrument panel, so some of it
was simulated instruments that was in the GTS, but we had to support
testing in both of those. You’d have two astronauts assigned
during first shift and two astronauts assigned during second shift
to support that testing. Some days you’d come in at 3 o’clock
and work until midnight. I remember, before STS-1, we had a backlog.
We were behind on our testing, and we were not going to be finishing
the certification testing in time for first flight. The head of SAIL
at the time, who was Mr. [Thomas V.] Chambers, said, “Okay,
guys, we’re going to go around the clock until we knock down
this backlog.” We went for six or seven days straight. Sometimes
we worked over the weekends, if we were a little bit behind.
We were not restricted to 40 hours a week. I remember Story Musgrave
was our lead astronaut over in SAIL at the time. We had to knock this
backlog out of our way, and that’s what was declared, we were
running two shifts, two 12-hour shifts, two shifts a day. I guess
it was 8:00 until 8:00, and then 8:00 until 8:00 were the two shifts.
I remember I drew the 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM shift for the first week,
and we went nonstop. We were knocking off three and four tests a shift.
We did drive that backlog down and succeed in certifying it.
The hours could be really extreme sometimes, so you could go a whole
week and never see Building 4. You’d be over in Building 16
the whole entire week. Again, you sure learned an awful lot. I think
Story threw himself in there for the 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM shift for
the whole first week. I think we succeeded in one week of getting
where we wanted to go, so we could back to just two shifts a day.
SAIL would run the third shift, but usually what they were running
was ground processing software, and we had no input on that. They
didn’t need an astronaut in the cockpit while they were running
the software that they use in the computers down at Cape Canaveral,
but they would use the SAIL for verifying all of that as well. Those
were some of the sorts of hours that we got to do.
You got to do some long days, yes, some really long days. I mentioned
chase, earlier. I was a chase pilot for STS-1 and STS-2. I was Chase-4
on STS-1, so when Columbia launched with John [W.] Young and Bob [Robert
L.] Crippen on April 12, I was actually sitting in El Paso [Texas].
I was Chase-4, so it was Chase-3 and Chase-4 that were in El Paso.
White Sands [Northrup Strip, New Mexico] was the abort once-around
strip, if they had had a problem that required an AOA, Abort Once-Around.
Dave [David M.] Walker was Chase-3, so he was lead, and I was Chase-4.
I had the TV cameraman in the back seat, and so, we were sitting in
El Paso, watching the launch. If they had declared an AOA, we would
have hopped right in our T-38s and gotten right up on station over
White Sands to chase them when they came back in. As soon as they
got to MECO, Main Engine Cutoff, we knew that they weren’t going
abort once-around. We hopped in our airplanes and flew to Edwards
[Air Force Base, California] to be in place to cover them, just in
case they had to land on the first three or four orbits. Jon [A.]
McBride and Dickie [Richard E.] Gray were down at Cape Canaveral for
the launch, to chase them if they had to do an RTLS, Return to Launch
Site, so then I wound up staying at Edwards.
It was only a two-day mission, so we were at Edwards for two days.
I was airborne over the alternate runway aim point, and Jon McBride
and Dick Gray got to chase STS-1 when it came down to land. Then I
was Chase-1 for STS-2, so I did what they did. I was down at the Cape
for launch and then made my way out to Edwards. It was supposed to
be a five-day mission. We were really looking forward to five days
out at Edwards because we would have been on alert during the crew’s
awake time. When the crew went to bed for the night, we weren’t
going to be on alert anymore, so we didn’t have to hang around
out at the flight line. We were going to have a great time running
because Edwards is a great place to go running. We were going to get
to enjoy the gym and go running and all of those great things, and
they had a fuel cell failure, and they came down in two days. I only
got to enjoy Edwards for two days, once again.
I’ve heard that the chase teams were referred to as the Chase
Air Force. You guys had a patch and things, do you recall that?
Yes, we did have a patch. In fact, I still have one of my jackets
that has a patch that Dick Gray actually developed. It has a T-38
joined up on a Shuttle, and it was Shuttle Chase Team is what it says
on the patch. I still have my jacket that had that patch on it. We
got a little bit notorious on STS-1 because Jon McBride and Dave Walker
really liked to be off practicing chase, so we did a lot of it. Since
we were support for the upcoming mission, we had the highest priority
for getting T-38s, and we wound up doing probably a whole lot more
flying than we needed to. In the post-landing party after STS-1, we
had a big party, all the astronauts, and it was basically to roast
John Young and Crippen over the whole thing, but the chase team got
royally roasted by the rest of the office. It would be, “So,
here was the development: John Young and Bob Crippen are training
for their mission, and here they are in the simulator, and meanwhile,
the chase team is getting ready to go,” and it’d be a
flight of 15 bombers that they’d show a picture of. Then they’d
go back to something else and roast the crew and roast somebody else
in the office, and they’d say, “Meanwhile, the chase team
was down at Cape Canaveral,” and there’d be this field
full of airplanes, 1,000 airplanes in this picture.
We got really hammered by the office and because we did so much practicing,
we had over-flown our T-38 budget, we the pilots, the individual pilots,
all four of whom were Navy pilots. It was Jon McBride, Dick Gray—former
Navy—Dave Walker, and myself, were Chase-1, 2, 3, and 4. All
former Navy, and we got beat up. In fact, George Abbey sent out a
note to all of us that said, “You guys are walking until you
make your time for the six months come out to your allocated flight
time,” which was normally 15 hours a month of T-38 time. I think
because we were mission support for STS-1, we could have 20 hours
a month. We over-flew that. We went well beyond our 20 hours a month,
so he sent us out a memo that said, “All of you boys are walking,”
basically. “Make your time for the six months come out to”
six months times whatever our number of hours was supposed to be.
I think I was the only one that actually abided by that. I think the
rest of the boys said, “Ah, phooey, I’m not doing that.”
I think I was the only one that did that.
When it came time for STS-2, my wingman, Chase-2, was Ken [Kenneth
J.] Baker, who was former Navy, but the other guys were Air Force,
Dick [Richard O.] Covey and Loren [J.] Shriver were the other pilots.
I was the only one who had been on the Chase-1 team, so of course,
my job was to train those guys and teach them how to do it. I was
determined that we were not going to over-fly our flight time, and
so I made up a big matrix from the time we were assigned until the
time of STS-2. How much training time we needed and how many trips
down to the Cape, how many trips out to White Sands, how many trips
out to Edwards we needed, and made up just a whole budget and put
that out to the whole team. “Okay, here’s going to be
our plan.” We actually did it without exceeding our flight time,
so I got big points with George for pulling that off.
I’m sure you did.
I kind of messed up Dick Covey. It just didn’t even occur to
me, but in my first meeting with George, when George said, “Come
over and let’s talk about Chase,” I had that all put together
and went over and showed it to him. Then George appointed Dick Covey
to be Chase-1 for STS-3, and same thing, George called over to Covey
and said, “All right, come on over and let’s talk about
Chase.” Covey went over there and he didn’t have that.
He came back and he said, “Oh, George told me when you came
over, you had a whole detailed plan of how many sorties each guy was
going to get, and how many rendezvous each guy was going to get, and
you didn’t tell me about that.” It just hadn’t occurred
to me, but I kind of screwed him because I was so organized and ready
for the whole thing and he wasn’t.
You think that’s why he was the last to fly in class? No, I’m
I’m trying to think, was he our last pilot to fly?
I think that’s what he told me.
I know Shannon was the last one out of our class to fly, and she went
with Dan [Daniel C.] Brandenstein on his second mission, which was
his first mission as commander [STS-51G]. I didn’t remember
which pilot, to tell you the truth, was the last one to fly. I guess
I was the fourth one to fly, out of 15. It might have been Covey.
I don’t know why Covey would have been the last one to fly.
I was always very impressed with him, always very impressed with him.
He was by the numbers, he was not a cowboy, he was a very professional
aviator. I don’t know why he would have been the last one to
He had some good missions. He got to go to the Hubble [Space Telescope].
He was Air Force. He was Air Force, and it has to be acknowledged
that there was a Navy bias.
You agree with Mike Mullane?
Absolutely, absolutely. It certainly benefited me, but nonetheless,
that’s not right. That’s not the way to do things. I think
the world knows that George Abbey had gone to the Naval Academy [Annapolis,
Maryland]; there was no Air Force Academy [Colorado Springs, Colorado]
at that time. When it was time to graduate, you could pick which service
you wanted to go into. He went into the Air Force, and he was not
treated well in the Air Force. My opinion is he took that out on the
Air Force. If you just look at mission commanders for the first 15
missions, STS-1 was Navy, STS-2 was Air Force—we’re even
at that point—STS-3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, so at this point,
we’re 9-2 in mission commanders. I agree there was a bias on
behalf of the Navy, and as I said, that’s not right. When I
was Chief Astronaut, there was no such thing. There was no military
bias. I paid no attention to what service the people were from when
it was time to put them on missions and give them job assignments.
Like I said, I don’t think that was right.
We had done some additional research and found out that you worked
on the STA HUD [Shuttle Training Aircraft Heads Up Display] for a
short period of time. Do you have any recollections of working on
Actually, I don’t think I did. I was one of the pilots that
got one of the first opportunities to look at it, but I think it was
only a couple of hops, Jennifer. It wasn’t a long program. In
the course of STA training, I was probably one of the early ones to
look at it. I don’t remember a whole lot about that.
You also mentioned being a Cape Crusader. I always ask people, do
you recall where that name came from? I’ve always wondered if
that was something the Shuttle astronauts came up with, and if so,
where the name came from.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I wasn’t one of the
original group, and in fact, I was just part-time. I was a part-time
Cape Crusader, and my recollection is that it was Bo [Karol J.] Bobko
that I would report to. He was the one that would come to me and say,
“Hey, we’re going to have some testing on such-and-such
down there at the Cape next week, and we’re a little bit shorthanded.
Can you go down there and do some of the testing in Columbia on such-and-such
a day?” Like I say, I was just part-time down there, so the
guys that were full-time, I think Loren Shriver, at the time, was
one of the guys that was down there all the time, and they’d
be down there every week. I just went down there now and then.
I was down there for the annual picnic—and this is going to
be a little bit self-serving—and they decided that they were
going to have a Mr. Legs contest. I thought it was very sexist, but
I took part in it anyway. What they had us do was all the boys that
wanted to be in it, I didn’t really want to be in it, but I
was the only astronaut down there and they said, “Come on, you’ve
got to.” I won the Mr. Muscular Legs award down there at the
Cape. I’ve still got the little medallion they gave me. They
made it out of a steel washer, and they put a paper thing in the middle—I
think it was 1979—it says “Mr. Muscular Legs, 1979.”
They tied a string to it or something like that, so I did that while
I was down there, for some of the Cape Crusader testing that was going
Those are good memories to have, good mementos.
It was always fun to be down there, and any time you were down at
the Cape, they wanted you to wear your flight suit because they wanted
the folks that worked down there to get to see who they were keeping
alive, and get to see who they were doing all this hard work for,
and also give them an opportunity to walk up and say, “Hey,
I’m Jim Schultz, who are you?” Just get to meet an astronaut.
You were always on display because you were wearing your blue suit
everywhere you went, and including in the Orbiter, when we’re
doing the testing in the Orbiter, they just wanted us to wear our
blue suits for all of that. That was kind of fun. It’s a whole
lot more enjoyable when you’re not on display and you can just
blend in to the woodwork, but when you were working as a Cape Crusader,
like I said, they wanted us in our blue flight suits.
We have just a few more minutes, but I have to ask this question,
just because I asked Rhea and she wasn’t sure, so I was going
to ask you. I read in an article—I think it was a People Magazine
article that came out when you and Rhea, either you had just gotten
engaged or you had just gotten married, I can’t remember which.
We had just been married.
There was something in there about how you had been contacted by a
bridal magazine and they had left a message for Mr. Seddon. I just
thought, “Oh, I would love to hear the story behind it,”
and I’d like to hear what your classmates and other people in
the Astronaut Office thought about that.
I think that that came from one of our classmates. I think it was
Brides Magazine. I don’t remember exactly why, but chances are,
Ellison Onizuka was behind it.
Another one of his pranks.
I think it had to do with the fact that this was very unusual in that
timeframe too, Rhea kept her maiden name. Rhea didn’t change
her name to Gibson. I never told her this, but I remember it even
peeved me a little bit at the time, that she wasn’t going to
change her name to Gibson, because that just didn’t get done
very much in those days. After we married, the boys took my nametag
off my locker, the little leather nametags like we wore on our flight
suits that had our wings on it and all that, they had one made up
for my locker that said “Hoot Seddon,” and stuck it on
my locker. It really torqued me off.
It really annoyed me, that they had put this thing on my locker, but
I knew what would happen if I ripped it off of there and threw it
in the trash. The next day, they’d have another one made up
and it would be right back up there, so I left that stupid nametag
up there for like three years, and then I finally ripped it off there
and threw it in the trash. I had to leave it there because if they
find something that annoys you, you’re going to hear about it,
over and over and over again. I didn’t dare take it down right
away. I think that Brides Magazine thing, I just vaguely kind of remember
that, but I think that’s where that came form, the fact that
she kept her name, and so, therefore Brides Magazine wanted to talk
I just thought it was an interesting story, so when I asked her, she
said, “I don’t remember that. You’re going to have
to ask Hoot about that,” so I thought she might like hearing
that answer. I thought, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d ask
Rebecca if she had some questions, then we can close out and talk
about some future sessions.
If you have time, I just had one thing I was curious about. You mentioned
your mother was a pilot, and when you were talking about that, I was
wondering if as you were growing up, you were aware of that being
kind of an anomalous circumstance, for a woman to be a pilot, or if
you didn’t really think about it. How did you process that?
I knew, once I got old enough to really kind of understand some of
that, that yes, this is kind of unusual. There were enough people
that would say, “Oh, my gosh, your family is really unusual
because your mother flies.” It wouldn’t be too unusual
to have the dad be a pilot, but certainly, it was very unusual to
have moms that were pilots. Yes, I did realize it was kind of unusual,
but it was normal in our household. My mother flew in the All-Women’s
Transcontinental Air Race twice, also known as the Powder Puff Derby.
She raced in the Powder Puff Derby. Another year, she raced in, I
think they called it the Palms to Pines Air Race. That was an all-women’s
transcontinental air race. I remember they would race to Atlantic
City [New Jersey] from San Diego, I think it was.
They’d take off in San Diego and they had some strict rules
on it that I’m sure not all of the women abided by. It was supposed
to be daylight-only and it was supposed to be only visual flight conditions,
and it was a handicapped race, so you could enter any kind of an airplane
into it. This airplane’s normal cruising speed would be, say,
120 miles an hour. So, how well did you average 120 miles an hour
or more, in getting there? Theoretically, somebody in a Piper Cub
could win against some of the real fast general aviation aircraft.
My mom did that two years, and then the Palms to Pines Race was the
same sort of thing, it was a handicapped race. In my case, I would
see, over the years, a whole lot of women pilots, so it didn’t
seem unusual to me although eventually I was old enough to realize
that yes, this is unusual, to have a mom that’s a pilot.
Do you think that influenced how you thought about the first female
class of astronauts at all?
Good point, it may very well have. Yes, it may very well have. Yes,
I think there was probably some reluctance about women flying combat
airplanes, and I’m not even sure I really want women in combat,
although I have come to accept it. Like my dad, I don’t want
any of my daughters flying in combat, or serving in combat, but I
suppose to be fair and equal, you’ve got to give them the same
career opportunities. That may have affected my outlook on it and
my attitude on it was well.
That was my one thought, thank you.
I think this might be a good stopping spot.
Wow, it’s 3:30.
Isn’t it amazing how time flies?
Yes, it sure is. Boy, I sure talked a lot.
[End of interview]