I've always been interested in the space program. When I was a kid, my folks gave me a Panasonic reel-to-reel recorder and I'd stay home (maybe I was faking, I forget) and watch Frank McGee on NBC or Walter Cronkite on CBS broadcast the various Gemini missions and I'd turn down the sound and talk into the thing. I figured I'd end up being an astronaut. I ended up instead being the guy who "talks into the thing." Go figure.
Anyway, here's a story I wrote about an aquaintance of mine, who has built the same kind of plane that I'm building. If you've been following the current Atlantis flight, maybe you've seen him on the TV. His name is Paul Dye. He's the lead flight director for the shuttle.
Now, this picture below is really cool. It was taken from France and, yeah, that's the sun. But check out the spots (click the image for a larger view). Unbelievable.
That's the shuttle on the left, after undocking with the space station on the right.
My mother had a beauty shop in our basement and, of course, it had a sink she'd wash customers' hair in and it had a chair that would lean back. It was a good place to play "spaceshot." So I'd take my brothers football helmet, put Saran wrap around the front and that was my space helmet. Then I'd wear a big heavy red parka and that was my spaceshuit. I'd get in the chair and that was my capsule.
I built a flimsy cardboard "control panel" of a capsule that had a bunch of paper switches that did nothing but light the stick of dynamite I was sitting on. And I'd turn on the tape recorder, on which I'd taped mission control. And then I'd "lift off."
It's a wonder I didn't suffocate.
An interview with Tom Berge
5 months ago