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tv   Oral Histories  CSPAN  July 1, 2016 2:00pm-2:56pm EDT

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listen on the c-span radio app or get video on demand on you have a front-row seat to every minute of both conventions on c-span, all beginning on monday, july 18th. on july 1st, 1976, the smithsonian's national air and space museum opened its doors to the public with president gerald ford on hand for the dedication. today marks the 40th anniversary of the museum and american history tv's live coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3, we'll tour the museum and see one of a kind aviation and space artifacts, including the "spirit of st. louis" and the apollo lunar module. plus live events, learn more about the museum as we talk with its director, museum curator jeremy kenny and valerie neale. and you can join the conversation, we'll be taking your phone calls, emails and tweets. the 40th anniversary of the
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smithsonian national air and space museum live this evening beginning at 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span 3's american history tv. next on american history tv, nasa's earliest days with wally funk. one of 13 women selected to be the first lady astronaut trainees or f.l.a.t.s, this is sometimes called the mercury 13, as they underwent some of the same physiological tests as their male counterparts, the mercury 7 astronauts. unlike the mercury 7, these women never flew a nasa mission. funk was interviewed as part of the nasa johnson space center oral history collection. this is about 50 minutes. >> this is carol butler and i'm doing an oral history for the nasa history office with wally funk. retired ntsb investigator, senior flight instructor, chief
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pilot. wonderful woman of aerospace. thank you for joining us today. >> thank you very much for having me. >> to begin if we could talk briefly about your early career and your interest in aviation developing and how you, how you moved forward into the aerospace career as a woman. >> well, aerospace was not a name in my young life. but flying airplanes was. i got my first try at flying, just pure flying by flying my superman cape off my daddy's barn when i was about five years old. and then i was allowed to make airplanes out of blocks of balsa wood and hang them from my ceiling. when i went on to college, i was allowed to take flying as my mother had dearly loved flying and her father wouldn't allow her to. so they encouraged me then to go on to my aviation career. i was at a girl's school for two
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years, got my private there. then i went on to oklahoma state university, who would be the time from the mid '50s through to the '70s. i'm a national, international judge for safe-com universities and colleges. so now i'm giving back the safety that i've learned over my 44 years of instruction, to the kids that just starting out in the flying that i started in, in the early, in the late '50s. it all has come around full circle. oklahoma state afforded me most of the rest of all my ratings. i would trade off mowing grass between the runways for my glider reading or my sea plane rating. and that was a great experience
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as a kid of 19, doing such things. and there was never any eyes raised or eyebrows raised about what's that girl doing. i had great parental enthusiasm. and helping me to continue my education that i wanted in aviation. and it wasn't until i graduated from oklahoma state and went down to fort sill, oklahoma where i was a flight instructor that i learned about jerry cog had been in phase 2 off the magazine cover of "life" magazine. and i wrote immediately to the doctor that had used her as a subject. was dr. seacrest at the va hospital. he puts me in touch with dr. rand y lovelace at albuquerque, new mexico and dr. lovelace
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writes back, fill out this form and your date is a month away. can you come? so i was not on the original list. but and i was 21 and i was too young. they had to get extra permission for me to take the same tests as the mercury 7 astronauts took. now they have picked 25 women candidates out of the records and there weren't records in washington, d.c. in those days. for this, there were. and at 99 headquarters. but it wasn't as it is today. so comprehensive. they found women that had a college education. over 1,000 hours of flight time. i had to have a commercial instrument rating. top physical condition. and be willing to go through these tests. so i said yes, of course i want to go. and yes, of course get information for me to go because
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i'm just a kid. well, it turned out that was to my benefit. because i had no preconceived ideas of what was going to happen in any of these tests. i had no idea that things could be done to my body and to my mind. that they did do as a youngster. as you will. being a grown-up now, i might have had some reservations going in, as many of the other women probably did. i took a lot it in stride, it was going to get me one step closer into space and this is where i wanted to go. i did as much as i could in space exploration for physical tests, psychological tests as possible to get me into absolutely a race for space against russia in those days.
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25 women were put through the tests, but only 13 passed. that's why we're called the mercury 13. >> we got all together and exchanged stories and described
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that we would buy a jet aircraft from england, which was called a small vampire, but then nasa reorganized therrien nomenclature, so to speak, that you had to have jet test pilot time this was impossible for a girl to have in those days. i was taken 30 years for eileen to go up in space and she was the first girl to be able to go from edwards air force base, she was 20 years in front of us. so the thing that i'm most happy about is that eileen is going to be in that left seat, and in less than two days. she had a vision, and at 5 she knew she wanted to fly. and she patterned her life, there was at least enough knowledge out there to pattern her life to know that she had to get her licenses. she had to go to the aircraft. she blossomed in the air force. got on with nasa.
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this is her second trip up. we've got a girl in the left seat and that's just absolutely incredible. this is going to show youngsters and young ladies that are going to see this particular program, that you can do anything you want to do with your life. math, to stick with and have as your personal goals. eileen's tenacity, her, her personal goals, her dedication has a lot of people from around the world to come together. >> absolutely. it's fabulous. before you got involved in the, in the testing program, had you thought about even the possibility of going into space before? >> before i wrote about geri cobb? it was not something i knew
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about. it was just -- it was just as new as new. we didn't know what "astronaut" meant. >> you jumped into it. >> absolutely. i knew that that was for me. i wanted to go into exploration, i've always been sort of an explorer in my youth. >> great. and you need to be an explorer, you're exploring still. >> yes, i hope to go on to russia, with the zigren voyages and be part of a cross-training of american astronauts and russian cosmonauts. so that we can use their facility at star city and go through some of the same tests that eileen has gone through in houston. i've been down to houston many times and i've observed what she has done, what the astronauts are doing down there. but coy never have the chance of, of partaking in such a wonderful schooling. >> it will be interesting to see how the training that you're
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able to go through in star city measures up with the testing and training that you've been through when you first started out as a 21-year-old, not knowing anything about space opportunities. >> what's interesting about your statement is we've come such a long way in technology. that the things that i was tested on, people aren't tested on any more. they were testing us to our extremes. to how much can we take of water being injected no our ears and how fast is our eye going to stare at a particular object. and i had no control over my body. and was i going to fall off? and yes, i would have if i wouldn't have been strapped into a dentist chair. or what would i do in a tank of water that was so, and the humidity of the room was so perfectly controlled, to my temperature that i couldn't feel the water on my hands or my face? because there was no hearing,
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smelling, all your senses were taken away from you. and you were to stay in there as long as possible. and i broke the record of ten hours and 35 minutes. >> that must have been a very interesting experience. >> it was so easy for me. as the youngster then, you didn't have a lot on your mind as youngsters today do. and the question always comes up, how could you stand 10:35 minutes? on the contrary, when they said how long do you think you've been in there? i said if i wasn't hungry, i didn't have any bodily needs, about five hours. so everybody that's taken this particular test, the scientists today. and an isolation situation. everyone cuts their time in half. now the guys, the mercury 7 were set in a room. you know you can count a lot of things in a room and entertain yourself.
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where i was on my back, floating in this water with all my five basic senses taken away. couldn't smell, touch, taste, anything. and just had to lay there. now they wanted me to talk and sing, but no, sir, i didn't talk. this would be a very difficult interview. this was a long time ago. but i've learned to talk since then. >> that's good. you mentioned a couple of the other tests, the water in the ear. what were some of the other as you came down the first phase of testing. what were some of those tests? and at any point did you stop to think, what am i doing? or -- anything along those lines? >> your last question first, no, i had not a shadow of a doubt. i was their subject, they could do anything with me that they wanted to do. and i didn't know that you could get x-rayed from head to toe and it would take a whole day and every single tooth and every single bone. they wanted perfect specimens at
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that time. >> now let's go back to the men. the mercury. there were 159 men selected from the armed services to go through these tests at lovelace. how many, 25 women were selected. and how many, how many passed? 13. so do we have a little bit of information here on how well do women do things? how well did they come up? terrific. how well did they go across the prairies and settle the west in their covered wagons? great. big families, didn't think anything about it. why can't we fly and go into space? men today that think that we can't as women do things -- sorry, folks. we can do it. a woman and i'm sure eileen has
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tried extra hard to do her best. because nobody wants to fail. but and failure is not a part of my, my make-up. i do the best i can do. and i kick as many doors in as i possibly can, no matter where i go. >> and you have fun doing it. >> yes, i love life. you bet. >> that's the way to do it. you got to enjoy life as you're going. as you were doing the testing, you said you didn't know any of the other women that were going through it. but you had of course read about geri cobb. after were you done with the very first phase, what contact did you have with people running the program or with dr. lovelace or how did it continue that you could go on with the next phase of the program? >> pensacola, she had done this about six months to a year prior
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to my going through. >> we were talking about how you became involved in the second round of the testing and how you found out even about the opportunity. >> well the second round of testing would be what geri cobb had went through in pensacola florida. it was all scrubbed, most likely a political situation. but california and various states. so at ump sc i was able to take
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the centrifuge test. now being a civilian and being a girl. they would only give me three gs, and i could not have a g suit. only men could have those things. so i called mother up in hemmett, california and said mom, i need your worst merry widow and girdle when you were a girl. can you get those to me? you betcha. so i modified and made my own g-suit out of her, her merry widow and just stuffed my body in this tight little thing and put my flight suit over it. because i knew once they started to twirl me around in the centrifuge, obviously they thought i was going to go out within, the first go-round. of 3 gs. i knew to keep the blood rushed up in my body. up in my head. so obviously they gave me three gs for two minutes at a time.
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okay. second round. no big deal. i punched out the buttons, that were coming up for my assignments. third time around, no big deal. a little tired, but it's okay. fourth time around, i don't know if the guy really hit the button and gave me a few more gs, or it was that many more gs, the same amount of gs, but my body not having a rest in between. but what happens is, when you're going around this long arm, extended arm, going around this room very, very quickly and trying to punch out the different lights they're giving you as assignments, you start to gray out. and when the gray-out effect starts is when the blood is coming down from your brain at about half-mast to your eyes, part of it is gray and the rest i could see you. well i knew that was happening, so i just clenched up my body and my neck and i pushed all that blood back in my head and
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it cleared up. so i could keep doing my thing. i never told them until i came out in "dateline" 25-some years later that i had made my own g suit and i passed with flying colors. >> that's great. >> then the other test was the seat ejection test at el toro. and that is where i was placed in a -- particular flight suit and parachute rig. and i was shot up on a long, long pole. almost like go hit the gong and then come down. and so obviously i went up as far up as the slide would go. but came down with a terrible thud. not really realizing kind of a
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lot of powder, like a bunch of fire crackers, underneath my seat. i pulled this canopy up over my helmet to keep my head back against the back head rest so my head couldn't come forward, because you could break your neck. but coming down, i didn't realize, but the guys knew it i would have a tremendous headache and you could have a back compression. soy wonder if anything has happened here. nothing happened. i was fine. i just got, they took all the gear off me. and the next thing they just ushered me right in to the high at tut chamber test. in those days, they could take a civilian up to 39,000, today it's only 29,000. and we zoomed on up there. and on 100% oxygen, that's the
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best way they say to get over a hangover or a headache. is to breathe 100% oxygen. i was feeling great. and here comes the test. we want to you write your name and anything you want, add some numbers on this piece of paper. so at that altitude you can only last a matter of 10, 15 seconds without oxygen again. so i'm writing and i think i'm doing really terrific. you have a feeling of well being here without oxygen. this is how a lot of airplane people have accidents. because they have a feeling of euphoria. and they're not getting the right oxygen to their brain. to read the instrumentation correctly. they get into trouble. well, of course we had a lot of noses pressed up against every window looking at this girl in there. they never had a girl before.
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writing down and doing my assignment. thinking i'm doing a great job. i heard it, but i didn't respond. they said waly, put your mask on. put your mask on. but i was out of no oxygen to the brain. they let me go as long as possible, i simply just slapped the mask on me. and then everything became clear as a bell. and not only had i not stopped at the end of the page here, i had gone on and did 30. and doing great. so that was, the high altitude test. and the last test was phase 3, conducted at the house in oklahoma city. put into the tank as i had described earlier. >> what an interesting array of
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tests that you went through. >> and then on top of it, in the '80s i went to space camp for a week. so i've done everything coy possibly do to learn and grasp more about the wonderful world of space travel. >> it's good to see you being so interested in maintaining that enthusiasm. to pass it on to others. >> absolutely. >> just today, kids today have a wealth of knowledge, if they just have parents or teacher to say you can do anything you want to do. and go after it. encouragement of going after it. taking all the math and science and engineering courses throughout, and kids are on computers today. the youngsters that i'm teaching to fly today, i've got 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds that i'm teaching, they're grasping flying and i'm showing them seven to eight hours of the computer industry. that they're learning to fly on
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the computers. >> it's a whole new way to learn. >> i learned by the seat of my pants. and you show me that i respond and that's exactly how i learned how to fly. it wasn't really out of reading a book. it was show and tell. >> and my acrobatic instructions i would look at the picture, have somebody show me. a good way to learn, just by doing it as you go. >> while you're doing the testing, shortly after that, they had congressional hearings, actually, lining with bringing women in as astronauts. when nasa was hiring the second group of male astronauts. were you aware of those at the time?
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i don't remember where i was at that 0 period of time and i've been asked that over and over again. i don't think any of us knew what geri and jamie hart had prepared to do themselves to do to go and defend us as a group. mind you, we didn't know each other yet. i knew jackie cochran. she had been very generous to support phase 1 financially. i had wonderful letters from her. but i didn't realize. out of the country, or i was so buried in my work that i didn't realize until after it was over that these hearings had gone on. the parameters are jet test pilot experience to be an astronaut. which let us out of the league. ? for the time being. >> yes, yes. thank you for adding that. these girl test pilots and i
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think we've got two female or eileen and another gal that are testing so that because eileen has to have a back-up, girl back-up. >> hopefully we'll be seeing more and more. >> absolutely. >> as you said, you were traveling overseas for a length of time. you had your career in aviation. tell us some about that, if you would. an overview of what you did. >> well i went over to russia with two goals in mind to see the paris air show. and to meet valentina peshkova. she had already gone up in '63. >> so -- i saw the paris air show. i went to russia by myself. scared to death. on a train, from vienna to moscow. and never got to meet her.
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and i was being sponsored to get to russia to meet her, but the russians -- this is cold war time. the russians didn't want us to meet. there i was in russia by myself for a week. that's what my ticket allowed me to be there. interesting experience, going over on the train. when you get to the border between poland and russia, they stop the train, everybody has to get off for a good hour. and nobody knows what's going on. and they try to give me shots, they took my passport away. it was a little spooky. i said no you're not sticking me with any needles. got back on board. and no more knowledgeable, why they took us off, off. but i was in russia or in
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moscow. i got to see a lot of the things that they wanted me to see. the university, the kremlin, the da da da da, didn't dare speak to anybody. nobody would speak to me. getting back on the train to go back to vienna, when we got to the border crossing, i decided to play sick and stay on the train. i wanted to know what was going on. so they came and pulled all the shades down and said stay right there. and when they left, the guards left, i peeked under one of the blinds and took a picture. and what they were doing is they had great big forks and they came and they lifted each train car up. and slid a narrower track underneath it.
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real wide tracks in their country and the rest of europe had narrower tracks, this was one of their ways of protecting russia from any high-speed train going in their country. >> that's interesting. and then in those days, we didn't know how the russians were landing. it was my second trip over through russia when i really got to meet valentina pereshkova. i asked for two interpreters in russian and two interpreters in english. to know what was going on here. and we would, the first tourists ever to be taken into star city. and this is like their astronaut center of houston would be. but tourists were never allowed in there. and on the wall, you could see the re-entry, which we all as americans thought, that the cosmonauts came down and landed with the parachutes.
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not so. when the soyuz got into the tropo sphere, the manhole cover blew off the soyuz as the astronaut was ejected out. they came down in their own parachute, stuff. soyuz came down in its own parachute rig. >> this means they didn't reach all the goals of making a first. because when you're go into the rules of paris are, when you want to make a record-breaking situation, you go up with your vehicle, you go down with your vehicle. they didn't come down with their vehicle. so this is a first that we knew what kind of shenanigans they're flying. >> intriguing, did you get to take a picture of that wall. >> i sure did. >> i got 45 minutes with
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valentina. at first the questions were, how did your parents feel? well she had been taken from her parents as a child. the, she was raised in a child labor camp. and she was brought up as a textile factory worker and everybody can have a, in russia, can have a, parachuting. so when they put it together, and obviously they took her for a parachuting and she did about 350 jumps. and they say that she really hadn't been schooled that much on the capsule and she was told what to do. this is interesting in the fact that we could have done it. if they would have just let us. >> we have to wait -- what,
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30-some years. >> unfortunately. but finally for progress. >> valentina pereshkova and talk with her. >> she was very guarded. of course she would be. she held the position in moscow as the first lady. and rather interesting. if you lived in a block of buildings, and you were in this conduct in your building, it was your russian duty to report to her. if you overheard anything. if anything was against the governme government. >> very different society. >> in fact when our astronauts go over and i've heard this from shannon, she had, it was, a
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terrible time. the food, the quality of the clothing, the fact that shannon didn't get all her gear for a month, up into the soyuz, and into the the module, that they were circling the earth with. was really too bad. but she told us about her experiences. i'm looking forward to going to russia and i hope it will be a little bit different, than what shannon experienced. but yes when we have russians come over to america, what do we do? we put them up in a nice place to stay, a chauffer-driven car. clothing, good experiences. but this is just the difference in cultures, you're right. >> very interesting experiences. >> continue to be a pioneer in
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aviation and for women, you went on to work with the faa and the national transportation safety board. how did those opportunities arise for you? how did you find out about the openings? and move into them? what did you do? >> quite by accident. right place, at the right time. i was chief pilot for a company out in california. i took a lot of people back to vegas. interesting, enough made mayor decision-making and shook hands over deals in the airplane that i was carrying them in, going to vegas and back. >> i was applying for a profe professorship at the university of alaska and i used an faa chap's name that i had known. and he says wally, what is this, you be in my office at 9:00
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monday morning. oh, okay. i was there and he says, you're set up for an interview next monday morning, because we want you to be an investigator. i mean an inspector for the faa. i said oh, my goodness. that takes an awful lot of education, i don't have that. i caught myself. of course i can do that. i can be the first girl inspector for the faa. and i had my interview. i had my first boss was -- bill glenn. and i answered all their questions. and then i asked them all about the faa and what they expected of me and what i was going to -- where was i going to go with the faa. and he said, i like your questions, you're hired. i was with the faa, had a great time with them. for 40 years. then ntsb stole me over and i became an investigator for the rest of my tenure until i
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retired in '84. i've done over 450 accidents. whether it's large or small. >> that must be a challenge. >> it was a great challenge, yes. >> every injury and every accident investigation was different. >> absolutely. i'm sure it was a learning experience, too. to see all the different considerations, safety considerations, and things to watch out for. >> that's correct. you hit on a very good word "safety." because most of the accidents, there has been a safety problem with that accident. either by pilot not taking heed or maybe the mechanic or maybe the aircraft itself. i wanted to take my wally funk safety slide presentation around the world, in the united states.
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to universities and colleges, and show them why people crash into mountains on a clear day. it's incredible. i mean -- in the middle of arizona, is nothing around it. and yet i've done several accidents where people are coming and going, right into that particular peak and that was the only peak for hundreds of miles. i climbed that one many times, i've gotten to many accidents by horse, by mule, by helicopter, by rapeling, by being dropped down, by walking. you name it, i've gotten there. >> quite an ktive life you've had. >> yes, i've loved every bit of
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it. i wouldn't change it for the world. >> that's great. i hope to still be saying that and enjoy life as much as you in my own few years. >> i've got 50 more years of stuff to do. so -- i got to keep on going. >> i'm sure you will. >> when you mentioned earlier you hadn't known any of the women that went through the mercury testing with you at the time you knew geri cobb and jackie cochran, but not the others that had passed. and you only got to meet them a few years ago. what was that like? >> well. it was neat. being the youngest, i was outvoted on who was going to talk first, so i sat there and listened a lot. so i did have my camera, so i got to film a lot of what was going on in the various impromptu clutches that we would get into. any time we get together there's more stories that come out.
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some of the girls have lived together, now see i was by myself. i didn't have anybody to talk to. but they being older could have each other to talk to, i just couldn't see myself as a subject. i didn't ask questions and i just was there. and so i still listen. i listen to their stories. because i didn't have a fascinating stories. i've told you some of my experiences. but some of them were like sarah bradley. she said she had her hair all done up the day before she went to lovelace and of course the minute you go in you're handed a le lengthy sheet of examinations and the first thing was, wash your hair thoroughly and don't
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do anything to it. and take an enema. and we did everything we were supposed to. >> how have you kept in contact then since you've all met and kept up a regular correspondence or meeting? >> we have our gal that everybody calls and gives information to. and and when we come down here to the came, to sea island, we all get together. those of us that can still travel. >> it's great to see you all keeping up. >> when did you find out that eileen was going to have the opportunity to pilot the shuttle? >> gosh, i think we met back in
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mid '80s. she had been just been hired by nasa. women in aviation conference in las vegas. and the women in aviation is a large organization now that encompasses every all girls that want to fly around the world, fly for the airlines, or for commuters or as i am, a chief pilot. student. or a nasa individual like eileen, we've all been speakers. and this is opened the floodgates to let people know there's an organization to find out about military, to find out what's out there for them. and peggy beatty from dayton, ohio, is the one that's started this organization. and we've just had our 10th anniversary. we meet the second week of
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every, second week of every march, somewhere in the united states. and women in aviation international is probably given out hundreds of thousands of scholarships. for the airline industry, for, for any, anything that any girl wants to apply for. those things are out there. >> we teach people how to get ahold of scholarships, to use pell grants. none of this was even remotely thought of 15 years ago when i was, i was a struggling -- when i was struggling to get my licenses. and what geri and all the rest of the girls had to do to get their licenses. >> it's wonderful to be able to work with a young generation and to help them have the exciting experiences you've had. >> and when you, interview the lot you find you're going back in time even more, and they
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helped open the gates for us. women in aviation and for us getting into some of the space program. >> i'm guessing, many of them are involved in the women in aviation? >> absolutely. inducted quite a few ladies in kansas in middle of june this year. and i suspect there were about 20 there, yes. you see there's about four or five organizations where we all see each other through the year. whether you're a helicopter pilot, fixed-wing pilot. aviation, or amelia earhart's home in kansas. >> a great network today. >> you've flown a variety of different aircraft, if i'm correct. was there a favorite that you had?
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>> yes. it's an old biwing, open cockpit airplane and i owned one as a youngster, well as a youngster, as a 22-year-old in hawthorne, california. silly me, i sold it when i wanted to go overseas, because i couldn't get anybody to work on the engine. and jets were just coming in and to find a mechanic to work on a radial? when they could be out there working on a jet engine? no. i sold it for $3,000. today the airplane is worth, in good shape, so and i'll go up to somebody that's got a nice steerman and i'll say, well i guess, can i have a ride, can i pay for a ride? i used to own one of these.
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i don't know. you have to take our course. >> okay. let's go for a ride. >> that's -- >> i did make a, advertisement in the early '80s for merrill lynch and i flew a stearman and i did all kinds of acrobatics and had big-enough room so i could have a helicopter run through. it was wonderful, because mother could be in the chase plane and she had never seen me perform. and riders for merrill lynch, as went into the sun, the bull was coming out of the sun and i had words to say. and as we were going back home and sun was setting, mother was in the chase plane and i was right next to her, we had tears coming down our eyes, we could be up in the air together. she had her wish. and passed on to her daughter, with the gene of flying. >> that's wonderful.
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that must have meant so much to her. >> i didn't know about the gene until four years ago. she just told me. >> your mother sounds like a really wonderful woman. >> she's great, she's everything to me. >> she's great. nice to have so much support. >> it must have helped in your career and being able to have so much fun at what you did. have her as such a support and a friend. >> mind you, i grew up in an area of range. i was brought up by the indians, at palos pueblo and they taught me how to fish and hunt and camp at a very early age. and so i had all of that going for myself. a youngster today, is in a city and an apartment and that's all they know, they don't know ocean and skiing and snow.
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i was able to know it. and that's why i, i thank, i thank the good lord for putting me where he put me. >> you were in a wonderful environment it sounds like. thank you. >> the future. we were talking earlier. you have quite an exciting future in front of you. you mentioned going over to russia to do the training. but you're also gearing up for. >> yes, i'm gearing up to go into space. and it's really going to happen. i always knew, even though mercury tests were stopped, i knew that i would one day go up. i, it's in my bones, i knew it. and sure enough, a company called zigren voyages out of seattle, washington, has the plans to put a vehicle into
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space with a space cruiser attached underneath. what will happen is that the mother ship will take the space cruiser up to the troposphere and peel off and the space cruiser will go into orbit. there will only have nine of us on board. it will take a lot of training. but my space star city training will help for that of course. and i'm going to have my nose pressed against that window as close as i can. see what the astronauts see when they go around. and i'm going to go as a paying passenger. >> and be able to look all you want. >> hopefully we'll be able to come to the launch. >> the launch will be somewhere
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in california. the vehicle will be able to take off and land at an airport. >> that's great. >> that's how it's being designed. >> i'll put it on my calendar. >> looking back, what was the most challenging aspect for you. in your career. >> i can't say that my tests have been a challenge because i went in not knowing what was going to happen to me. so nothing was preconceived. challenging, i suspect when i was an investigator and going to all the schools, that the ntsb, i wept to five schools a year. i went to the aircraft manufacturer, engine manufacturer, propellor
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manufacturer, that was challenging, going to an accident investigation, of large magnitude was of large magnitude was challenging, but we always came up with a solution. we are having more accidents, unfortunately and we don't have the manpower, excuse me, the people power. but in my tenure in the office in los angeles we had three states, the entire south pacific to have as our territory and there were only six of us. so we were really scattered. and i was on the road about every third and fourth day. so i had a life that was on to the beeper. we didn't have faxes in those days. we didn't have ways of transmitting information. it was the good old phone and
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pages were just coming in. >> you certainly have seen a lot of change in technology since you started out both in aviation technology and general technology. >> yes. anytime i teach somebody to fly it's a challenge. of course, going back to our earlier conversation, the kids of today are great. but if i take a person that has not had any athletic abilities, they're a challenge because i've got to teach them eye/hand coordination. that takes a long time. one thing i can't teach and that is just good old common sense. >> very important. >> it sure is. >> what would you consider your
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most significant accomplishment? >> golly gee whiz, i haven't gotten there yet. [ laughter ] if i can make it through star city and make it into space that would be it. everything has been like building up to it. and i have had wonderful experiences and wonderful accomplishments and i couldn't do it without all the people that were helping to push behind me. and seizing opportunities, recognition of the opportunity. >> that's a very important factor that i'm sure you pass on to your students, but take advantage of those opportunities when they come up. >> that's right. >> i want to thank you for sharing so much with us today. it has been fascinating. >> well, it's been my pleasure to be here with you and i hope that all your viewers will enjoy
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it as much as i have. >> i'm sure they will. they will enjoy it as much as i have. >> my pleasure. the national air and space museum on the national mall in washington, d.c. welcomes more than 8 million visitors each year and is the most popular of all the smithsonian museums. american tv will be live at 6:00 p.m. eastern to take calls and questions about aviation and space history tonight here on american history tv only on c-span 3. this weekend on c-span's city tour. we explore the history and literary life of utah. we will visit moons books. showcases many great finds.
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as well as original copy of "common sense". >> thomas payne went to robert bell and wanted to have this printed and wanted the proceeds to buy the soldiers mittens. well, after it went through three printings they had a falling out. and so thomas payne allowed anybody to print, lowered the price and said anybody can print it. that is a reason that book is so well known. >> and author of "a peculiar people" talks about anti-mormonism in america since it was found. >> fit kind of awkwardly in that. they are a religious minority who over time have figured in disproportionately visible ways in debates about religion. >> and on american history tv take a tour of the brigham young
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university museum and see dinosaur fossils. rod sheets talks about how the fossils were gathered from utah and surrounding states and changes the way fossils and bones are displayed. >> when you can hide the armature the animal looks more alive in the sense that you get the feeling that these are bones but it brings life to these bones. >> reporter: and jay spencer fluman tells how they began setting up satellite communities and 33 mormon families established the settlement. watch c-span's cities tour saturday at noon eastern on book tv and sunday afternoon at 2:00 on american history tv on c-span


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