Thursday, May 03, 2007
One Of The Last Old Bold Pilots
I like museums – most of them anyway. My favorite one is the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum on the National Mall and the Udvar-Hazy Annex near Dulles Airport. I like going to these places because they celebrate the Americans who pioneered flight. It reminds me that it hasn’t been that long since the idea of man leaving the ground made many people laugh.
A little over a half-century ago, brave men put themselves at great risk to journey into space atop dangerous rockets and experimental capsules – just to prove that it could be done. Neil Armstrong journeyed to the moon and back using a computer with less power than my wristwatch – and he made it look easy.
Well, before Armstrong there were guys like Wally Schirra. Schirra was one of the seven original Mercury astronauts. He died today at the age of 84.
The aviation world gets a little smaller each time guys like Schirra pass on. Schirra knew that exploration was fraught with risks and he went anyway. He blazed a trail most of us today consider commonplace. Every single astronaut who walked on the moon did so thanks to Wally Schirra. I think its important to recognize those who made the impossible something we accept today as normal.
Here endeth the lesson.