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  Tom Stafford's Near-Fatal Mistakes In Flight

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Author Topic:   Tom Stafford's Near-Fatal Mistakes In Flight
Duke Of URL
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Posts: 1301
From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-14-2005 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I admire Tom Stafford greatly, but he was involved in two pilot error episodes that nearly cost his life and the lives of others.

For example, on Apollo 10, a switch was improperly set and the LM spun out of control. This mistake was made by either Gen. Stafford or Capt. Cernan, but as Commander the responsibility was Gen. Stafford's and the astronaut at the controls of the LM he was also most likely to have been at fault.

During the ASTP landing, the capsule filled with toxic fumes, nearly killing Gen. Stafford, Vance Brand and Deke Slayton, because of pilot error. As one astronaut observed, "Wally (Schirra) wouldn't have forgotten that switch!"

My question is how did Gen. Stafford avoid the screwup lable that attached to Scott Carpenter? My understanding is that Aurora 7 had a bum guidance system and yaw errors are difficult to detect and correct over water. Additionally, the flight plan was overloaded and Carpenter got it within weeks, not months, of the flight.

Chris Kraft was merciless in his description of Carpenter, to the point I feel there was actual personal animosity for some reason. Yet Gen. Stafford - and again I admire the man - who also flew "for" Kraft - didn't get the Big Ziggy for nearly piling into the Moon (probably ending our chances of landing before the Soviets, before 1970 and possibly at all) OR killing himself and the others on ASTP.

Maybe some NASA insider from that era could explain the disparate treatment that seems to be at play here. Also, did Gen. Stafford ever take any responsibility except in the sense of lip service?

carmelo
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Posts: 792
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-14-2005 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my opinion some astronauts were "untouchable".Those in the "Deke & big Al's pack".

Duke Of URL
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From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-14-2005 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by carmelo:
In my opinion some astronauts were "untouchable".Those in the "Deke & big Al's pack".

Except Deke nearly bought it on ASTP.

carmelo
Member

Posts: 792
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-14-2005 08:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What coincidence,Deke and Tom on the same spaceship!lacked only Alan Shepard,but they have been generous to make fly also Vance Brand.

[This message has been edited by carmelo (edited March 14, 2005).]

Duke Of URL
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Posts: 1301
From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-15-2005 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Big Al was retired by then.

I don't think any of these people were "bad guys".

carmelo
Member

Posts: 792
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-15-2005 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also I dont'think this.But Slayton (and Shepard) had too much power.And Stafford was a guy of "inner circle".

Duke Of URL
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From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-15-2005 02:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stafford, Slayton and Shepard were all brave and dedicated men. But as in all fields of human endeavor, politics became part of NASA. I was wondering at the mechanisms involved.
I scratch my head when I hear Gen. Stafford (or Frank Borman, Al Shepard etc) described as an SOB. To me these were single-minded men of great bravery and purpoae.
Criticizing them in hindsight, some even posthumously, strikes me as cheap shotting. It was never my intent by posing the question to do anything of the sort. I've been guilty of that myself, and here.
I was trying to ask if Carpenter's mistake, which paled in comparison to others later on, was significant only because it was the first.

carmelo
Member

Posts: 792
From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 03-15-2005 03:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes Carpenter was the first,but Schweiackart (please,we don't speak of his "space sickness",if he was CMDR of back crew of Skylab 2 ,he was qualified to fly),Cunningham,Eisle,Ed White,Gordon Cooper? P.S. In an other site i have read that Al Shepard defined himself a SOB with a total control on crew selections.It is false?

[This message has been edited by carmelo (edited March 15, 2005).]

Duke Of URL
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Posts: 1301
From: Syracuse, NY, USA
Registered: Jan 2005

posted 03-15-2005 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Duke Of URL   Click Here to Email Duke Of URL     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I've defined myself as an SOB too. Other people have said the same about me as well.
"Total" control is a stretch. Influence, yes.
Like I said, when politics are involved things get bad in a hurry.

All times are CT (US)

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