Space News
space history and artifacts articles

Messages
space history discussion forums

Sightings
worldwide astronaut appearances

Resources
selected space history documents

Websites
related space history websites

  collectSPACE: Messages
  Free Space
  Mistaken for an astronaut or NASA employee?

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Mistaken for an astronaut or NASA employee?
p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-08-2012 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw this great line from a recent post on the LA shuttle exhibit and it got me thinking...
quote:
Originally posted by cljohnston108:
But it ended up being such a great day, because I found myself answering questions for all the fascinated-yet-bewildered folks who'd come up to me on account of my t-shirt with the big honkin' NASA logo on it.
I wear NASA gear all the time, including a Alpha blue jacket with more correct patches on it. I've been asked countless times if I'm an astronaut or fly for NASA. Twice, I've had people convinced I was an astronaut and wouldn't accept my explanation that I was instead a well-read fan (one got really testy when I refused to sign an autograph). My wife says that being ex-military I have the bearing of someone like that and that my NASA togs are more accurate than what you usually find in a gift shop. Also, maybe it's the fact that I'm about the right age and build for the current crop of astronauts (halfway decent shape but not all that thin, early 40s, etc).

Like the above quote, people ask me questions all the time when I'm at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. I once 'lead' an informal tour of the space suits at the visitor center in Houston once a group realized I knew what they were all for and could answer basic questions (much to the eye-rolling of my long-suffering wife). They just started following me around and asking questions. I had on my Apollo 40th anniversary shirt at the time.

At this rate, I'm seriously considering volunteering to conduct tours of the shuttle FFT for the museum of flight, and only the two days a month commitment is keeping me from leaping at the chance (I live almost 100 miles away from Seattle and have a lot that does NOT lend to much time off). My wife said, "You might as well do it officially, you always know more than most of the people who're supposed to know those things anyway..."

Coming out of a restaurant in Seattle a couple of months ago, I was again wearing my shuttle windbreaker when a group walking in stopped dead in their tracks. As we walked by, I heard behind me, "Holy [bleep], that guy's an astronaut!" I just kept walking as it gets a little tiresome when people don't believe me. I mean, you see a guy walking around in an NFL jersey, you don't assume he's a pro football player, right? Why does a middle-aged man in a NASA jacket suddenly become an astronaut? Who'd wear NASA gear who was an astronaut and would then lie about not being one?

Sheesh, if I'd know it was that easy, I could have done really well on Spring Break when I was much younger, if you know what I mean...

But anyway, does this happen to any of the rest of you? Surely I can't be the only one here this happens to. I know that one other member here is confused with NASA personnel when wearing a flight suit to Space center Houston, but I'm talking about when you just step out in some casual NASA togs...

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-08-2012 09:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the items I bought while at NASA HQ was a polo shirt with the NASA logo and underneath that, the word 'headquarters.' I've gotten asked whether I was working that day, at the opening of the Enterprise pavilion on the Intrepid, and my wife was told, "If your husband shows you anything here..." at NASA HQ itself.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 12-09-2012 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I've done trips to KSC or JSC for interviews or attending launches, while I pack NASA T-shirts and one NASA logoed polo I got back in 2006, I try not to wear the polo because I don't want to be mistaken as anyone from NASA necessarily.

At museums, I have answered questions though and done the informal tour group bit because I also tend to know more about some of the exhibits than people working there at the time. I've also got this gift for being able to explain something relatively complex in terms that most people who aren't necessarily into space hardware can understand. Don Herbert (TV's Mr. Wizard) would have been proud.

tegwilym
Member

Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 12-10-2012 03:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I get comments on my space/aviation geek shirts that I always seem to wear, but never mistaken for an astronaut (that sounds fun).

I do have to be careful not to wear my red "West Marine" vest when I go to Lowes hardware. I've been asked several times for help. "Roof vents? Way over on that back wall... oh, and I down't work here!"

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-10-2012 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, I get people in stores asking me things like I work there from time to time, and I have never understood why.

I think I have an air about me that makes others believe I know what I'm talking about. My primary hobby is historical re-enacting, and I've done public events since the age of 6. I've done plenty of public speaking over the years and done TV for various historical subjects. My wife thinks I just come across as someone who should be listened to (well, to everyone but her, that is).

I was at the Museum of Flight in Seattle about a year ago, wearing my NASA windbreaker (as seen in the photo below) and just landed their shuttle landing simulator three times flawlessly. It's not tough if you can read a HUD. Anyway, I got out and was walking away when I got cornered by a guy asking for my autograph (he said for his kid with him, but the kid didn't seem interested at all), because I had to be a real astronaut because of the jacket and it looked like I could land the shuttle in my sleep. I laughed at first but this guy wouldn't accept no for an answer. I argued that no real astronaut would come to that place, wear that jacket, then lie about not being an astronaut. I even pointed at my name on my nametape, pointed to his smart phone and asked him to google the lists of astronauts, and he won't find a single one with even my last name. He refused to see the logic there. To this day, I bet he firmly believes a real astronaut refused to sign anything for him that day.

Sometimes I guess it comes in handy. A film student locally is making a film about a married couple and their martial issues and part of it is their arguing about the wife's supposed fascination with their astronaut next-door neighbor. The costume person e-mailed me after seeing my website, asking if they could borrow a couple of jackets, my NASA flight suit and some stuff like that. The problem is, the guy they had in mind was very small and would never fit into anything I have (other than a early kid's Space Camp flight suit in my collection). Once the director saw my photo with some of the stuff, they decided I had the right 'look' for the current crop of astronauts, so I'll be playing that role (the character never says anything and is only seen in glimpses by the husband through the blinds from his house anyway). The script called for a line where the husband is yelling at the wife that their neighbor really, "Isn't very good looking anyway, he looks like an insurance agent!" and I looked exactly the part in their minds...

Spaceguy5
Member

Posts: 400
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 12-12-2012 03:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since I'm so young, I can get away with wearing even authentic flight gear and only being mistaken for an astronaut by young kids (that happened once. She was disappointed when I told her I wasn't one). Though wearing any kind of NASA apparel at visitor's centers seems to make people think you're a visitor center employee (I've been asked questions like 'where's the bathroom?' and 'where can I exit the line?' several times).

The important thing is to not play along if anyone thinks you're an astronaut or other NASA employee as impersonating government employees to reap benefits is illegal. I've heard a couple news stories about people who've pretended to be astronauts, at least one of them was arrested because he used his false identity to trick NASA employees into giving him a behind-the-scenes tour (among other things).

garymilgrom
Member

Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 12-12-2012 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My car has many Shuttle mission stickers on it and the vanity plate is space related. Once while stopped by Atlanta's finest the officer asked if I was a NASA employee. Thinking I better not make things worse, I answered truthfully (no).

I still got the ticket.

JSC01
Member

Posts: 56
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Registered: Nov 2011

posted 12-12-2012 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JSC01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Given how unaware the general public seems to be about all things related to space, I think it's fantastic that any non-NASA employee would care enough to wear the gear, and even better to share information. The more of this the better!

Folks still ask me, when standing in front of the Explorer Shuttle mockup: "Is that a REAL Shuttle?" It's great people are excited, and all we can do is politely inform, teach... and be excited ourselves!

tegwilym
Member

Posts: 2284
From: Renton, WA USA
Registered: Jan 2000

posted 12-12-2012 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
I laughed at first but this guy wouldn't accept no for an answer.
You could have said your name was Buzz... and charged him $250 for an autograph!

Jim Behling
Member

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 12-13-2012 12:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am going to take a slant that might seem harsh to some.

I would equate wearing gear replicating an astronaut to wearing a school letterman jacket without earning a letter. Some things are just not done. Also, anybody wearing that around here (KSC/CCAFS) would be constantly pestered.

On another note, somebody bought me a t-shirt from the Kansas Cosmosphere that said "Actually, I am actually a rocket scientist". I stopped wearing it in public after a visit to Grill's in Port Canaveral that resulted in multiple requests for photos by tourists.

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-13-2012 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
I would equate wearing gear replicating an astronaut to wearing a school letterman jacket without earning a letter. Some things are just not done.
So, why can you find such things at the gift shops at JSC and KSC (or most other NASA visitor centers as well)? What difference is it between that and being able to buy a replica jersey at a sports arena?

And when you buy said sports jersey, how many people ask you if you're really a baseball or football player based on that alone? Not many, I'd bet.

For something that is, "not done," there sure is a large industry associated with it.

I've met astronauts while wearing my NASA jacket and none had any problems with it (I've only gotten smiles as an initial reaction, not one sneer from any of them). Tom Jones (STS-59, 68, 80 and 98) said he really liked it.

JSC01
Member

Posts: 56
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Registered: Nov 2011

posted 12-13-2012 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JSC01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jim I would respectfully disagree. High school letters are not sold in gift shops... however NASA gear is sold in every NASA visitor center purposfully to engage the public for our exciting missions. It is the ultimate compliment that the public is enthused about our mission. In this case, the word 'our' most definitely includes the public. NASA is funded by the public, and as a g'ovt agency is working at the request of the public taxpayer. I wore NASA gear long before I began working at JSC.

Jim Behling
Member

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 12-13-2012 02:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
What difference is it between that and being able to buy a replica jersey at a sports arena?
I also don't agree with wearing a jersey with other people's names. But that is just me.

Going back, the real issue is the jacket with name plate and wings. Do people go around and wear USAF jackets with wings when they aren't pilots?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-13-2012 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a blue flight jacket that I earned: my Space Camp Hall of Fame jacket.

While I'm comfortable wearing it at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and around Space Camp, I would never feel comfortable donning it in Houston. Those in blue flight jackets are the bona fide astronauts. (Although there is a local company that dresses their employees in the same shade blue overalls that look a lot like flight suits from a distance.)

That said, when I grew up in New Jersey and when I went to school in Maryland, I had no concerns wearing my powder blue NASA flight jacket with mission patches and name tag. And every Space Day, I would wear an EMU spacesuit (costume) at the National Air and Space Museum, and was mistaken for an astronaut by plenty of kids (and some adults) but was never uncomfortable doing so. I even have my photo in said spacesuit standing next to several astronauts who wore the real deal.

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-13-2012 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We might be taking an odd turn on this topic. I originally wasn't really talking about fans being mistaken for astronauts while wearing NASA flight gear at, say, right outside the gates of JSC. I was talking about basic stuff you can find in a gift shop and wearing it in normal places you wouldn't find NASA people, or being at a place like JSC and just wearing a souvenir t-shirt or hat that does not say you're an employee or crewperson.

All my experiences of being confused with an astronaut occur ed in the Seattle/Portland area, a place where you do normally encounter astronauts outside of the special events at the Museum of Flight. And just wearing t-shirts with general logos like my 40th anniversary Apollo shirt had me giving a guided tour of the suits at the JSC visitor center, and I doubt anyone thought I was really anything other than a fan, then. I thought it was just odd that a group of people latched onto me and started asking questions like I worked there when I was NOT dressed as if I did.

My original question was more geared to people assuming you were the real deal not so much based on how you were dressed but more in terms of people thinking you really knew the stuff so therefore must be the real deal...

albatron
Member

Posts: 2103
From: Stuart, Florida, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 12-13-2012 02:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for albatron   Click Here to Email albatron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's an opposite look at the question. In 2004 we put on the Air and Space Show, and auctioned off "A Day at KSC with Yury Usachev", to finance his trip from Russia.

The day he was to go, he wore his blue flight suit. I cautioned him not to, and he very humbly said he didn't mind people approaching him.

I tried to explain that it wasn't that, but that Delaware North dresses the bulk of their employees in the BFS's and people would approach him wanting to know where the bathrooms were.

True enough, he was approached all day by folks wanting information.

However, it was related to me that while he was in the IMAX theatre with the auction winners watching the ISS Movie, some young child turned around and did a double take and started whispering "there's the guy in the movie!!!"

He ended up graciously signing autographs for some time.

Yury is truly a diamond geezer.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-13-2012 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
I've met astronauts while wearing my NASA jacket and none had any problems with it (I've only gotten smiles as an initial reaction, not one sneer from any of them). Tom Jones (STS-59, 68, 80 and 98) said he really liked it.

Indeed, when Ron Garan saw me in my NASA HQ polo, he said, "Nice shirt."

As for high school letters, I have a story about that. My extracurricular activities were DECA and the newspaper, nothing to letter in.

However, I did get a letter - albeit unofficially. My high school name begins with a B and one summer when I was working in the front office, one of the ladies found a letter and gave it to me, saying, "Here, a B for Ben - " which is my middle name.

mikepf
Member

Posts: 351
From: San Jose, California, USA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 12-13-2012 06:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mikepf   Click Here to Email mikepf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
P51, great stories. But when you go out wearing a suit and tie, do people ask you about insurance?

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-13-2012 06:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They actually do, but that has nothing to do with what I wear (we don't wear suits as we don't deal directly face-to-face with the public much).

When I was an Army officer, I never had a problem with a kid wearing a BDU or field jacket. If he thought it was cool and wasn't trying to pretend he was in the Army, I took it as flattery that a kid still think the military is as cool as I thought it was at that age.

Frankly, I don't get the level of backlash at all (and clearly I'm not the only one). I don't get offended or irritated if someone thinks I'm an astronaut. Frankly, it's a compliment to me in that I did try to become one for real but my medical history stopped that dream cold. The only silly part is when someone asks if I an astronaut, I say no and they refuse to believe it. That is downright silly to me. Nobody would lie about not being one if they were, while wearing NASA gear, it's simple logic.

And I really don't see where people asking me questions about the space suits at JSC for example when I'm just wearing an Apollo T-shirt (clearly, a fan item) and not passing myself off as a NASA anything is me doing anything incorrect by any sane standard. And if NASA really had an issue with someone wearing a jacket that at a distance looks like the shuttle crew ones (a program, we all have to remember, no longer exists), they sure wouldn't allow them to be sold in the gift shops at their visitor centers.

I guess I should have expected this, being into collecting military uniforms as a hobby. I see this all the time, there's the 'you can't wear that because you didn't wear it in the exact role for which it was designed,' mindset that many former military types have. I bet people like this almost have strokes when going to a NFL game and see all the fans wearing those replica jerseys, many of which are exact copies of the real ones. How did people like that ever enjoy going to a launch in person? Did they scream at people wearing t-shirts with the mission patch on them, yelling, "You can't wear that, you're not actually on the crew!" Must be tough to walk into the gift shops and see all the stuff being bought by people who don't have the "right" to wear it...

GoesTo11
Member

Posts: 1025
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 12-13-2012 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
p51, thanks for your posts on this topic... funny stuff! I think if someone mistook me for an astronaut and refused to believe me when I said I wasn't (Note: this has never happened), I'd be tempted to sign my dang "autograph" just to appease them... let 'em figure it out on their own.

The closest I've come to an experience such as you relate came a few years ago when my mother and I were touring the NASA/ART traveling exhibit, at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. I went Full Geek for that one: Wore a NASA ballcap and my "I Need My Space" t-shirt. Along with that, I was telling Mom what I knew about the various artworks, the artists, and their subjects, and before long, enough other visitors had overheard me and started asking their own questions that I'd become an impromptu tour guide. So I know a bit of that feeling

As far as "repping the gear," I don't look at it much differently than showing support of NASA and the space program the way I show support for my favorite sports teams by doing so, with two caveats: I'm sadly past the age at which I'd be comfortable wearing the replica jersey of a pro athlete (A point I reached about when I realized that all but a handful were younger than me), and while I own several "flight jackets" adorned with NASA and military insignia... I draw the line at nametags with my own name under a pair of wings, NASA or otherwise. But (forgive the cliche) that's just me.

JSC01
Member

Posts: 56
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Registered: Nov 2011

posted 12-13-2012 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for JSC01     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For what it's worth, go to NASA centers and you will often see employees wearing gear to support programs they have nothing to do with. It's just a show of support, it's complimentary, it's enthusiasm.

Jim Behling
Member

Posts: 537
From: Cape Canaveral, FL
Registered: Mar 2010

posted 12-13-2012 09:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I guess we are a little more parochial about other people wearing ELV mission shirts.

ilbasso
Member

Posts: 1493
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 12-13-2012 09:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm a volunteer "Solar System Ambassador," a community outreach program that's run by JPL. I give presentations to community and educational groups about robotic space missions. There's a very strict code of ethics to maintain separation between us as individuals and NASA/JPL. We Ambassadors are required to state that we are volunteers only, and must avoid doing anything that might give the impression that we are JPL or NASA employees.

Dave Clow
Member

Posts: 213
From: South Pasadena, CA 91030
Registered: Nov 2003

posted 12-14-2012 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave Clow   Click Here to Email Dave Clow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hell, this is nothing. When I wear a business suit people mistake me for an adult.

spaceman1953
Member

Posts: 933
From: South Bend, IN United States of America
Registered: Apr 2002

posted 12-14-2012 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman1953   Click Here to Email spaceman1953     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
The closest I've come to an experience such as you relate came a few years ago when my mother and I were touring the NASA/ART traveling exhibit...
Your story is similar to one I was going to relate. My family had a personal tour of the Visitors' Information Center by a NASA employee, before my dad and I went off for a personal car tour by the same employee. While we were walking around the VIC, a crowd started to follow us around and even out the door as we were going to get into the car.

I always wondered what they must have thought... who we were, why weren't THEY getting into the car instead of waiting for their TWA bus, etc.

When I see people walking around with NASA gear on, I always try to stop them and ask them what their connection with NASA is, if any, and I always get a story. One guy I talked to, had on a vintage aircraft shirt and we talked for a good half-hour about his dad, who worked in the industry in California, complete with foil-lined hat, etc. (that is all I want to describe about his story), but it was fascinating.

And, of course, when at an air show at Grissom AFB, I "had" to ask the guy with the "FEB2062" plate on his car WHO "he" was... and he also did not hesitate to tell me!

I quit chasing down drivers from Auglaize County, Ohio license plates on their cars, however. There's no chance it's going to be our friend Neil anymore.

Still winking!

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-15-2012 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spaceman1953:
I quit chasing down drivers from Auglaize County, Ohio license plates on their cars, however. There's no chance it's going to be our friend Neil anymore.
If it is... you've got a great story! See if Elvis is in the passenger seat.

randy
Member

Posts: 1287
From: West Jordan, Utah USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 12-15-2012 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for randy   Click Here to Email randy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have been asked if I work for NASA occasionally when I give a presentation at the Hill Aerospace Museum. I have my museum volunteer shirt and hat (which are Air Force blue) and my SSA ID badge on.

NavySpaceFan
Member

Posts: 630
From: Norfolk, VA
Registered: May 2007

posted 12-19-2012 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As the proud owner of a Gibson and Barnes royal blue uniform jacket (with appropriate patches and SWO name tag), I have a prepared response for anyone who may ask if I'm an astronaut. I'll just calmly tell them, "No sir/ma'am, I'm an author, I only write about astronauts." And you don't have to wearing NASA gear to be asked that question. I was attending the '05 AHoF induction in my tropical white uniform, and a young Boy Scout asked if I was an astronaut. I politely told him, "Nope, I'm just a Navy Surfare Warfare Officer and space fan."

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-19-2012 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like some sort of parody on the movie, 'The Sixth Sense,' I can imagine the kid saying at a aviation museum, "I see astronauts... they're everywhere!"

A friend of mine I haven't heard from in years e-mailed me yesterday to catch up. Turns out, he had a nasty experience at the Dulles Air and Space annex recently. He bears more than a passing resemblance to John Young and is roughly the same age. He was mobbed by several people who were convinced he was in indeed that astronaut and got angry when he said otherwise and wouldn't pose for photos or give autographs (I just KNEW it had to happen to other people). Security had to step in to see what the deal was, and even the guard said, "You can't blame them, sir, you really DO look like him."

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-19-2012 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without at all calling your friend's account into question, I still find it hard to believe.

I've walked through the National Air and Space Museum with several Apollo astronauts without them ever being recognized, and that includes standing right next to Columbia with Buzz Aldrin. No one was the wiser.

Young is not a very recognizable astronaut, especially his older self. He hasn't made regular public appearances in years. And when he did attend events, I know some space history enthusiasts who didn't recognize him until someone else pointed him out.

That some random museum-goers recognized someone who looked like Young could be considered unusual; that anyone working security in the museum would also recognize Young (or any other astronaut for that matter) is outright odd. (And that's to say nothing of the museum goers not accepting a mistaken identity to the point of causing a commotion.).

p51
Member

Posts: 771
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-19-2012 04:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
That some random museum-goers recognized someone who looked like Young could be considered unusual; that anyone working security in the museum would also recognize Young (or any other astronaut for that matter) is outright odd. (And that's to say nothing of the museum goers not accepting a mistaken identity to the point of causing a commotion.).
Good point. I thought it was odd as well. He said one person asked if he was Young, which to me was reasonable, and he started telling people around him, "Hey, this guy landed on the Moon and flew the first space shuttle mission!" which is what caused the commotion. How the guard recognized him, well, I do agree that was odd. This guy really does look like Young, I never noticed it until another pal pointed it out a few years ago and then I could see it clearly. I do know he has been mistaken for Young for sure twice, once I was with him at the time and a JSC employee stopped and looked at him, and apologized, saying, I'm sorry I thought you were someone I used to work with," and explained he'd worked with Young on some projects late in his career. Another time, he was with another friend of mine but I don't know the story on that.

I agree that astronauts often don't look like their photos. I once sat right next to Al Worden at an event for him, and only recognized him once I noticed his gold astonaut pin!

Just relaying his story as it's related to this topic, that's all.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
Member

Posts: 2123
From: Toms River, NJ,USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-21-2012 05:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can't believe I forgot this story.

In the early/mid '90s I bought a powder blue NASA flight suit - NASA meatball on right chest, NASA worm on right shoulder. I customized it by moving the meatball to slightly lower left chest, putting a leather name tag above it (silver lettering: NASA worm, my name, JSC-Houston), putting the Shuttle Escape Team Member on the right chest, and a Shuttle Chase Team patch below the NASA worm.

George Nelson was opening a new Target in Menlo Park, and I wore the suit to his signing. I asked one of the people working there where Nelson would be. They started to answer me, stopped, stared and asked, "Are you Pinky?"

Understand this: I definitely do not have blond hair nor blue eyes!

turk242
New Member

Posts: 9
From: Monterey, CA USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-26-2012 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for turk242   Click Here to Email turk242     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can appreciate this thread as I worked at Space Camp in the mid 90s. At the end of each kids camp (4 or 5 days) or even the parent/child weekend camp we would have a graduation ceremony. As instructors, we would wear the blue flight suits with all of the adornments - USA flag patch, shuttle patch and a number of medals based on how many times your teams had won various competitions (shuttle missions, rocket launch, most spirited camper, etc. ).

I would drive along highway 405 to the Space Camp facility just before the KSC badging station which is now the Astronaut Hall of Fame (where incidentally I spoke to Alan Shepard as he was about to ride his 3G trainer simulator). I was in my mid twenties then, and for whatever reason I kept a high and tight haircut. Can't tell you how many times at a red light I would look over to see tourists waving and snapping photos. I kinda felt stupid but always smiled and waved.

I loved the facility and spent so much time walking through on my own time after the graduation ceremonies. So many times I was asked if I was an astronaut, Without pause I always said "I wish - they are my heroes" and would tell them I worked there as a Space Camp instructor.

But there were a few times where it meant nothing and there I was getting a picture with a kid whose mom or dad would politely nod after my explanation and still say "Can you take a picture with my kid?" as we were standing next to John Glenn's Mercury capsule or Gus' Mercury pressure suit. It was always great fun. It was worth it - I know kids who stayed in touch who would go on to work in the space program and to this day one of my best mates at Space Camp went on to work at Houston Control - big kids and little alike, We all loved the progam!

All times are CT (US)

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Contact Us | The Source for Space History & Artifacts

Copyright 1999-2012 collectSPACE.com All rights reserved.


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.47a





advertisement