I have had way more than my share of great good luck in my life. A perfect example is that I discovered I liked and was farily good at being a Naval Pilot. This had been my dream from the time I was 10 years old even though during all that time I had no real understanding of what life as a Naval Aviator would be like.
I loved the sights, sounds and smells of high performance flying machines. I enjoyed being catapulted off of aircraft carriers. Formation flying, in-flight refueling, bombing and gunnery all were challenging and fun for me. Every day I thought this is a super way to live my life.
In a Navy squadron, all the pilots fly the same type of airplane. As I looked around on our aircraft carrier, there were pilots from other squadrons flying other types. I wanted to fly those as well. I understood if you could become a test pilot, you would be flying all the planes that Navy had.
Because of my Aeronautical Engineering background, I was selected to attend the Navy Test Pilot School. It was here I met Charles "Pete" Conrad, my performance instructor, and he and I became good friends.
Upon graduation from Test Pilot School, I was assigned to the Service Test Division. Every day was an adventure for me and I believed that I had the perfect job for a guy like me.
Then one day after a test flight, I walked into the ready room and everybody was watching the small black-and-white television. Someone said there was this guy, Alan Shepard, who was a Astronaut, who was sitting on top of a rocket. I had no idea what was about to take place but I stopped to watch. In his 15-minute flight, he had flown higher than I ever been, faster than I every gone, and made a lot more noise doing it. Maybe he had the perfect job for a guy like me.
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