posted 05-02-2005 11:21 AM
It was great seeing you Garry and thanks for the terrific report.
Its been said many times before but it bares repeating: one of, if not the best reason to attend these events is a chance to meet with friends and this past weekend was no exception. I only feel bad that I didn't have more of a chance to catch up with quite a few of the 30+ readers whom I saw, if only briefly.
A great thanks to Larry McGlynn who graciously allowed me join his guests at his company's table during the gala. Sharing dinner conversation with the likes of Cece Bibby and Dick Gordon, not to mention Bryan McKay and Andy Lagomarsino was a treat.
Of course, its the astronauts who bring us together and all were gracious were their time. Of the inductees, I had met Bruce McCandless and Joe Allen before and both were kind to remember our past encounters. This was my first time meeting Gordon Fullerton and I was immediately impressed.
As covered and shown elsewhere on the board, the launch during the gala was truly fanatastic. This was my fourth launch (two ELV; two STS) and the first to really deliver the delayed arrival of the rocket's roar. Even though I knew what was coming, it was still a surprise when that wall of sound rushed across the water and hit the crowd assembled outside the Saturn V Center.
The launch also permitted for a very funny encounter with Levar Burton. As we were filing back into the center after the Titan was no longer visible, Burton asked what had been at top of rocket. "A weather satellite?" Someone from behind me yelled out "NRO", to which Burton responded "NR-what?". So I replied, "Classified."
Burton got this startled look on face and then quickly and jokingly said, "I'm not saying anything more." And then a series of jokes began among the people surrounding about not seeing a launch, that it was just a balloon, etc.
The ceremony the following day was just as memorable. I had a great time catching up with Leon Ford, seeing Dana Holland and earlier in the day catching up with Al Hallonquist, Bill and Vicki O'Donnell, and Ken Havekotte among many others.
Levar Burton was a great emcee, injecting humor and real admiration for the gentlemen he was introducing on stage. The tributes delivered by Vance Brand, John Young and Fred Haise to the three inductees were great, full of humor and great insight, as were the acceptance speeches by Allen, McCandless and Fullerton. All three took time to speak of each other, which gave this class a real sense of camraderie. Had the Apollo program continued, these three would have made for a great crew together.
During the induction ceremony, The History Channel announced a new partnership with the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which will include producing a sequel to last year's "Failure Is Not An Option". More on that under a separate posting soon.
Of course, none of this weekend would be possible without the amazing efforts of Linn and Diane at the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, as well as Dan, Brian, Debbie and many, many others at KSCVC. Thank you for yet another very memorable, exceptionally fun event!