posted 07-22-2011 08:00 PM
Last weekend, while helping my parents "weed out" and pack some of their possessions for an impending move, I opened a box that contained mostly the ephemera of their Air Force careers: Presentation medals, citations, plaques, mementos etc. Among these I was stunned--and delighted--to discover something I had long thought lost forever: A (cheaply) framed 8x10 of Columbia about to touch down at Edwards, signed by John Blaha, Bo Bobko, John Casper, Fred Gregory, and Blaine Hammond.
I know exactly where and approximately when I got these signatures: A "meet & greet" with these astronauts at the RAF Alconbury Officers' Club, sometime during the post-Challenger hiatus. I assume that this was on a leg of the "re-bluing" tour that a number of USAF astronauts went on in the spring of 1987, and to which Mike Mullane makes reference in his book, Riding Rockets.
I don't recall much of the conversations I had, really only Blaha taking pity on an obviously intimidated kid and inviting me over for some chatting and unsolicited autographs (At that time, I was already getting over my adolescent idolization of astronauts, but this was still a pretty big deal to me.)
Anyway, I've since been unable to find any substantive print or online accounts of that trip other than Mullane's. (Incidentally, I have no recollection of interacting with or even seeing Mullane at that particular event. That's not to say he wasn't there: I didn't get to meet every astronaut in the room, and I don't know if everyone visiting attended. Mullane did a tour at Alconbury during his Air Force career; he might have been off catching up and sight-seeing for all I know.)
So I'm curious as to whether any cSers have additional knowledge of that re-bluing tour, have discussed it with astronauts who went, or know of some additional anecdotes from them that may not have been published or disseminated. Any info would be appreciated!
(I've also emailed Mike Mullane through his website, but have no response yet.)