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For Pete Conrad, it was all about the Ride. Whether he was flat-hatting 50 feet off the deck going Mach 2, test flying every supersonic jet the Navy developed (and some they shouldn't have), orbiting the Earth at almost 20,000 miles per hour, or just redlining his gold Corvette on a country road outside of Houston... this was a man who loved pushing the envelope.
Still, he wasn't exactly the Squeaky Clean Poster Boy NASA Astronaut. He wasn't tall, dark, and movie star handsome. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind - especially to the men in the white coats who tried to turn him into a lab rat, and grounded him as "unsuitable for long-duration flight" when he pushed back.
But they didn't call Pete Conrad the Comeback Kid for nothing. As a boy, he swept up at a local airfield for a couple of bucks a day, and learned to fly. He overcame dyslexia, and landed a Navy scholarship to Princeton, and became one of the country's elite test pilots at Patuxent River. And he learned the hard lesson of washing out of the Mercury Program, to come roaring back - flying two Gemini missions, walking on the Moon as Commander of Apollo 12, commanding the first Skylab, and developing the first re-usable commercial rocket, logging more time in space than all the original astronauts combined.
And, oh yeah, First American in Space / Navy fighter jock Al Shepard called him the best stick-and-rudder man he ever saw. The pilot every guy at NASA wanted to share an after-work drink and a joke with, chase a skirt or two with, and you better believe, would kill to fly with.
Rocketman is a personal story almost too amazing to be true. From his speed-of-sound entrance onto this planet, to Pete Conrad's comet-like exit off-roaring down the highway on his Harley Davidson, this is the surprisingly candid insider's view of the greatest Ride in history: America's glorious race to the stars, as seen through the eyes of the real Space Cowboy.
Nancy Conrad was married to Pete Conrad for the last ten years of his life. A writer, artists' representative, and interior designer, she has left her mark on some of the world's most prestigious publications, galleries, and homes. She co-founded Universal Space Networks with her late husband, is a member of the President's Circle of the National Academies, and serves on the Board of Directors of the California Air and Space Center at NASA Ames. She also co-founded the Community Emergency Healthcare Initiative, a program designed to decrease the number of preventable injuries and deaths occurring in emergency rooms around the world.
Howard Klausner is a screenwriter and Creative Director of an Entertainment Technology Group. A lifelong student and devotee of all things space, his most prominent big-screen credit is Space Cowboys, starring Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones. He is currently developing a television series about the space program. Mr. Klausner lives on Orcas Island, Washington with his wife and three daughters, where he writes aboard an old wooden sailboat, staring long and often at the Moon and stars.
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