Aviation Heroism

Michael Collins, who orbited the moon on Apollo 11, remembered being inspired as a young man in the 1930s by the dashing figure of the barnstormer pilot Roscoe Turner. ''Roscoe had flown with a waxed mustache and a pet lion named Gilmore,'' Collins remembered wistfully. ''We flew with a rule book, a slide rule, and a computer.'' His comment captures in one sentence Apollo's relationship to aviation. Collins felt caught between ''the colorful past I knew I had missed and the complex future I did not know was coming''16 (figure 1.2).17

Roscoe Turner's career peaked just a few decades before Collins's, but the two seemed worlds apart. Dubbed ''Aviation's Master Showman,'' in the 1920s and 1930s Turner barnstormed his way from rural America to Hollywood. He had little training and even less formal education. Yet he fashioned himself as a colorful character, sporting a waxed mustache and a made-up uniform from a nonexistent military in which he had never served. He was married in the cockpit of his Curtiss Jenny and flew his giant Sikorsky S-29 airplane, dressed up as a German bomber, in Howard Hughes's film Hell's Angels. As Collins noted, Turner flew with his pet lion Gilmore, named after the oil company that sponsored them. Turner embodied the showy, excited world of aviation in its ''golden age'' of transition from dangerous curiosity to commercial service.18

Collins was not alone in noting the passage from a hands-on past to a computer-controlled and rule-based future. In the mid-twentieth century, a host of professionals and craftspeople—from industrial managers to shop-floor machinists, from farmers to soldiers—reacted to the advent of computers and automated systems. Yet along with computers came new skills, work practices, and professional identities. Astronauts and their spacecraft were but the most visible manifestation of broad changes that raised fundamental questions: in a world of intelligent machines, who is in control? Can it be ''manly'' to control a machine by simply pushing buttons? How does software change the equation?

Figure 1.2

Michael Collins training in a command module simulator. Note the checklists in his left hand, the hand controller at his right, and the optical sighting equipment for the Apollo guidance and navigation system at his feet. June 1969. (NASA photo 69-H-978. Scan by Ed Hengeveld in Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/frame.html [accessed February 2007].)

Figure 1.2

Michael Collins training in a command module simulator. Note the checklists in his left hand, the hand controller at his right, and the optical sighting equipment for the Apollo guidance and navigation system at his feet. June 1969. (NASA photo 69-H-978. Scan by Ed Hengeveld in Apollo Lunar Surface Journal, http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/frame.html [accessed February 2007].)

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment