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Now That Takes Guts

Space Shuttle Endeavour Ferried To Florida
Getty Images

I was watching a video the last flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery when it left the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Washington, D.C in 2012 to become part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Some 2000 people saw the takeoff that morning and it got me to thinking about what the conversation must have been like for the first pilot to fly the 747 plane that “piggy-backed” the Shuttle from California to Florida years ago.

Imagine that conversation if you were the pilot.  “You want me to fly the 747 and put another aircraft on top of it at the same time? What are you nuts?”  Well somewhere in this great country of ours there was an engineer who said that it can be done. And he or she was right. It’s no different than being a test pilot for other aircraft like the Shuttle itself or the Apollo and Gemini space crafts before it.

They build it and said it will fly now go prove it.  That takes guts in my estimation. How about the first people to board a submarine?  “I’m gonna live underwater in this thing?  Right”! It takes a special person to want to do these things.  How about Quincy native General Paul W. Tibbets who was the pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb in Japan?  He had no idea what that bomb would do when it hit the ground below him.

The people that do these things are a special breed and where would we be without them. We might have lost World War Two or we might be driving the shuttle to Washington today. Just something to think about.

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