On a hot day in October of 1967, a test pilot climbed out of a white NASA step van and walked toward the silver B-52 parked in front of the hangar at the NASA Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He had made this walk many times before, but today was going to be different. The X-15 hanging under the right wing of the B-52 was waiting, surrounded by busy crew members doing their final pre-launch checks. Just a few hours later, they would all be tipping back beers at Club Muroc in celebration of a milestone achievement.
Each week, a popular TV show opened with the actual NASA footage of the aircraft crash that critically injures Colonel Austin. Every young fan of the show could quote the words that played out during beginning of each show. As a 10 year old kid, I would never have guessed that my paths would later cross with the guy who was actually piloting the aircraft in that famous NASA video. That’s right, I worked with the REAL Six Million Dollar Man, Bruce Peterson.
A few nights ago, I was scrolling through the menu of my Amazon Firestick and came across the classic 1983 movie, The Right Stuff. For folks who haven’t seen it, it focuses on two important landmarks in aerospace. The first is the quest to break the sound barrier and the second is the creation of the space program. The movie has a great cast, but there’s one actor that steals the show. Dennis Quaid plays the role of Gordo Cooper, one of the Mercury Seven astronauts. As the movie progresses, you quickly discover that Cooper is the funnyman of the group, and a bit of a prankster. Quaid serves up an awesome performance, and because of that, you instantly become a Gordo Cooper fan