From: Huntington Beach, Calif.
Registered: Aug 2004
posted 10-05-2011 01:37 PM
I attended the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF) event at Harvey Mudd College, where Bruce McCandless presented the scholar with a $10,000 check to Paul Riggins (right side of the photo with last years ASF scholar). Bruce gave a very nice presentation, then awarded the ASF check to Paul, who had his parents and grandparents in attendance.
This year the ASF awarded 26 students $10,000 and next year there will be 28.
Paul's T-Shirt was flown in space by Pinky Nelson, who's an alumni of HMC and it says "Obey Gravity, It's The Law".
After the event, dinner was served in the Air and Space room with 25 people joining Bruce, Paul Riggins and his family. During dinner Bruce was chatting with everyone, he told some great stories with some that I've never heard before.
The funniest story was about Bruce arriving late the evening before the launch of Apollo 14 to get the spacecraft configured for the crew. While on a break, Bruce saw a white Corvette arrive at the pad and drive right up the flame trench, park directly under the Saturn V for five minutes and then left. Bruce was somewhat shocked because the spacecraft was being fueled at the time and he couldn't believe anyone would be allowed to drive under the spacecraft so close to launch time. Bruce was later told it was Alan Shepard in the Vette.
Another funny story dealt with the Skylab 2 launch. Everyone was so focused on getting the procedures and hardware finished in order to save Skylab. While the prime crew was strapped into the spacecraft, Bruce was finishing the closeout and because all of the tools, sunshade and other gear was stowed beneath the couches, he had to crawl over Paul Weitz with an inch between him and the control panel. Bruce wanted to make sure he didn't hit any switches with his butt, so he moved really slow, which made for a hilarious event.
Another great story concerned the fruit cutting like tool that was designed to cut the steel strap holding down the Skylab solar panel. When everyone was satisfied this tool would cut the strap, it was broken down for storage, but apparently some NASA official was concerned this cutting tool was too sharp and could cut a spacesuit, so he ordered the tool to be dulled. When Pete tried to use the tool and couldn't cut the strap, none of the guys on the ground could understand why it wasn't working as well as it had on the ground. Then it was discovered some genius had ordered the tool dulled for safety sake.
Bruce also talked about the Apollo 12 lightning strikes, the Apollo 13 movie where he was speaking to John Young who complained that it was him in the CM simulator all the time and not Ken.
Unfortunately Bruce and his chaperone had to catch another flight, so we didn't have time to chat more. However, Bruce was gracious to sign quite a few pieces for people attending and it was an excellent and very personal event.