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  Apollo astronaut with sensitivity to heights

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Author Topic:   Apollo astronaut with sensitivity to heights
tlifan2
New Member

Posts: 7
From: Lawrenceville, GA 30043
Registered: Feb 2014

posted 09-05-2014 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tlifan2   Click Here to Email tlifan2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the notes at the back of the NASA history "Moonport" states that for one Apollo astronaut the ground crew covered the grating on the spacecraft access arm with boards so he could not see down. Anyone know who that astronaut was?

I can sympathize.

Dave_Johnson
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Posts: 10
From: Joliet, IL, USA
Registered: Feb 2014

posted 09-05-2014 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave_Johnson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A quick Google search indicates that Stuart Roosa (Apollo 14) had a fear of heights.

Grounded!
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Posts: 194
From: Bennington, Vermont, USA
Registered: Feb 2011

posted 09-05-2014 11:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Grounded!   Click Here to Email Grounded!     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He was a smoke jumper wasn't he?

David C
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Posts: 246
From: Pasadena
Registered: Apr 2012

posted 09-06-2014 05:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for David C     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Complicated thing being scared of heights. Personally I'm a professional aviator, and recreational skydiver and rock climber and I am 100% scared of heights. Of course, I've never mentioned it to the flight surgeon and everyone assumes I can't possibly be scared of heights. All part of the game.

ea757grrl
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Posts: 616
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 09-06-2014 07:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can completely sympathize. Last year on a trip to Birmingham a friend took me to the Vulcan statue and we went up on it. The walkway around Vulcan's base is some kind of steel grating. I could look down and see the ground eight or ten stories below. That completely messed with my head and I couldn't wait for the visit up there to be done.

On the other hand, visiting the 102nd Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building was a piece of cake for me, as is riding in an airplane. I can take the height okay, and I can even take looking over the edge, but if I can see directly below where I'm standing that's another story. Totally sympathize with this astronaut.

Jeff
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Posts: 268
From: Fayetteville, NC, USA
Registered: May 2009

posted 09-06-2014 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I’m retired military and had the honor of jumping and hanging out of all types of aircraft for 20 years of my career, in addition to all sorts of high speed extraction methods under rotary wing planes. During my instructor time I put students off of rappel towers and out of aircraft.

Here's the punch line... I am deeply scared of heights. To climb a ladder and clean out the pine straw from my gutters is a real chore. As David stated above, I never mentioned it and people think there's no way I can be scared of heights. For me it's always been how I focus on the job at hand.

MCroft04
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Posts: 1319
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 09-06-2014 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps that fear is why you are still alive!

You should try walking around on an offshore oil/gas platform; almost all of the outside flooring is grated metal. And many of the stairs are cantilevered over the water 100' or more high (and yes there were often sharks down there).

I think it was Jim Irwin who wrote in his book that he sometimes experienced claustrophobia when putting his space suit on.

There is still hope for me!

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 1061
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 09-08-2014 06:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it's a question of depth-perception. Leaning over the side of a building 30-50' one is very aware of the ground. But when your skydiving the ground is just someplace down there. I know this sounds corny but is does look like a map.

Tykeanaut
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Posts: 1875
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 09-08-2014 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it a fear of heights or falling?

Jeff
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Posts: 268
From: Fayetteville, NC, USA
Registered: May 2009

posted 09-08-2014 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jeff   Click Here to Email Jeff     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Neither, it's stopping at the end that bothers me.

dabolton
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Posts: 305
From: Minooka IL, US
Registered: Jan 2009

posted 09-08-2014 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I love flying, have sky dived, and am a member of ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) but I white-knuckle over super-high bridges, particularly those along the gulf coast.

Dave_Johnson
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Posts: 10
From: Joliet, IL, USA
Registered: Feb 2014

posted 09-08-2014 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dave_Johnson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Grounded!:
He was a smoke jumper wasn't he?
Yes, he was.

I too have a fear of heights. Going up on a ladder, walking to the edge of a building's roof, ferris wheel, etc. is problematic for me. However, flying in a plane, going up to high floors in a skyscraper and the like does not bother me. Enclosed, I'm fine.

Skythings
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Posts: 8
From: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Registered: Jun 2014

posted 09-09-2014 01:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skythings   Click Here to Email Skythings     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many years back I was an Air Charter Pilot who flew a group of engineers to a construction site of a 200 ft Grain Elevator under construction. They invited me along to come up the free standing crane to check out the view.

I was a mess about half ways up climbing the narrow internal ladder in the cranes tower. That was the easy part. Did you know the ladder spacing is about two and a half feet apart where they disconnect each section on the vertical tower of the crane? Climbing through the centre hub onto the main horizontal crane boom was freaky. If the operator rotated the crane it would have cut me in half.

Then I had to walk the entire 75-100 ft length of the crane boom 250 feet above the ground out to where the operators booth was located. There was a metal see through grated walkway with cable hand rails on either side. The wind was bouncing the crane boom up and down and with a cable in each hand the halfway point was the worst. At one point one cable was over my head and the other down by my feet. I felt like I was walking a high wire over the Grand Canyon.

Once I eventually got into the operators booth and the end of the crane I was much better but the movement was very pronounced bouncing up and down and made me very uneasy.

I knew I had to do all of this in reverse to get back onto the ground. Right now I appeared to be a trembling little school girl terrified to walk the plank. These guys were all having a good laugh at my expense, but they needed me to fly them home. It literally took me about 30 minutes to get my nerve to do it all over again and it was three times worse going back.

For me, it was simply mind over mater and reminding myself my fear was unfounded, eyes level on the horizon and just go before the damn thing collapsed. The relief when I felt my feet on the ground was heavenly. Never again.

Many years later I visited the outside observation deck close to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. I could feel the tower moving in the wind and I had to get out of there and cut my visit to the tower short. It was not an enjoyable sensation for me and brought back those horrible memories of the grain elevator crane. The glass floor was entertaining watch others, but there was no way I was gonna get on it.

I recently visited the Empire State Building observation deck and I was fine. The building didn't move and there was no way I was falling out of it. There were a few seconds of anxiety and uneasiness when I looked straight down and realized this would be the height those poor souls who fell from the Towers on Sept 11th started from. Once I got this out of my head I was fine and stayed for over an hour for the view.

Please watch this video and tell me your not bothered by the view. Better yet imagine standing where these folks are and start looking straight up with the wind howling in your ears.

Then there are these idiots. Look no safety harness.

I am comfortable flying an aircraft through aerobatic manoeuvres and inverted and looking straight down in steep turns with out any problems. When you have control and an understanding of your environment it is not a problem. I would imagine it is the same for many other aviators and astronauts too. Obviously those folks in the videos have an understanding and control of their environment, one which literally terrifies me.

Cozmosis22
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Posts: 401
From: Texas * Earth
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 09-21-2014 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Always wanted to just once stand up where this guy (circled in red) was perched looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.

Photo taken during RSS Rollback, STS-70.

LM-12
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Posts: 1214
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Oct 2010

posted 09-21-2014 05:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LM-12     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That image reminds me of this Apollo-era Mobile Launcher photo.

dogcrew5369
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Posts: 616
From: Statesville, NC
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 09-22-2014 03:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David C:
Personally I'm a professional aviator, and recreational skydiver and rock climber and I am 100% scared of heights.
Right there with you (sort of). Love to fly and be up in the clouds in an open or closed cockpit, but I would never walk up to a cliff edge or stand on something where I can look straight down into oblivion although a shuttle access arm would not bother me. My guess is being inclosed is the key. It is complicated I guess.

Chariot412
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Posts: 107
From: Lockport, NY, 14094
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 09-22-2014 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Chariot412   Click Here to Email Chariot412     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Same! Professional pilot, solo free fall and rock climb at the Academy, etc., but my wife taunts me every time we're near a high ledge!

Finally figured out that it's the safety device (cockpit, seatbelt, rope, parachute...) that restores my confidence.

Lou Chinal
Member

Posts: 1061
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 09-23-2014 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have to agree Chariot 412. I think it's the psychological feel of just knowing that there is a harness around you.

You tend too push the envelope a little more if you know you there is a way out.

And I tend too have brand loyalty also. Martin-Baker.

dogcrew5369
Member

Posts: 616
From: Statesville, NC
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 09-24-2014 03:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dogcrew5369   Click Here to Email dogcrew5369     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Exactly Lou!

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