The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 12, 1967 · 161
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 161

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 12, 1967
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Our space Oklahoma astronauts have accounted for forge share of the f offal U.S. man hours in orbit By Jim Young Oklahoma is a state with its head in space. Florida has the big launching complexes and Texas has the Manned Spacecraft Center. They build the rockets in California and the capsules in Missouri. But when they name a new class of astronauts there's usually an Oklahoman in the group. Oklahoma's space history to date reads: Of the 56 astronauts seven have an Oklahoma connection. Four are native Sooners who were educated in the state and have parents living here, two received a portion of their education in Oklahoma and the parents of one astronaut live in Oklahoma. Of the 14 manned orbital flights, Oklahomans were Hying on four missions. The United States has posted 2,000 man hours in space and Oklahomans have accounted for 32314, or one-sixth, of these hours. In addition to all this, the nation's space program is headed by a man who spent a period of his life in. Oklahoma. He is James E. Webb, administrator for the National Aeronautics 'and Space Agency, a transplanted North Carolinian,' who' spent several -years in Oklahoma City during the late 1950's as an executive with the Kerr-McGee organization. Oklahoma has been thrilled by space success, but it was also touched by space tragedy. Robert B. Chaffee, one of the three astronauts killed in the Apollo practice lire, was the husband of Martha Horn of Oklahoma City. Best known of Oklahoma's spacemen are Col. L. Gordon Cooper of the air force,' an original member of seven-man Mercury team from Shawnee and Lt. Col Thomas P. Stafford, also air force,, a Gemini pilot from Weath-erford. These are the men who have posted Oklahoma space first with two flights each. Waiting in the wings to play a role in the nation's lunar program are Dr. Owen K. Garriott, an electrical engineer and researcher from Enid, and Maj. William Reid Pogue (USAF), a native of Okemah whose parents now live in Sand Springs. Maj. Stuart Allen Roosa, another astronaut, has a strong Oklahoma connection. Although he was born in Durango, Colo., and his parents now live in Arizona, Roosa received much of his schooling in Oklahoma. Major Roosa attended grade and high school at Claremore and also attended Oklahoma State University. But he received his aeronautical engineering degree from the University of Colorado. Rounding out the group are Fred Wallace Haise jr., a native of Biloxi, Miss., who received a bachelor of science degree with honors in aeronautical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1959. The seventh is Cmd. Edgar Dean Mitchell, Artesia, N. M., whose parents live atTahlequah. Cooper at 34 was selected as one of the original Mercury astronauts, youngest of the team. Today he is one of the old-timers since he and Walter Schirra are the last two of the originals actively engaged in flights. The Shawnee native was the last of the Mercury group to fly; There were even reports that Cooper had incurred the displeasure of NASA officials and that friend Schirra had to go to bat for him to get him a flight. Any concern about "Gordo" was resolved after he became the first American to spend a night in space. Launched May 15, 1963, Cooper orbited the earth 22 times and returned the following day after traveling. 546,167 statute miles. His coolness brought praise from space officials, for at the end of his 34-hour, 20-minute flight a malfunction developed in his retro-fire mechanism. Working with Col. John H. Glenn jr., Cooper made a manual firing and splashed down in the Pacific within easy recovery dis- tanCooper's second flight came on Aug. 21, 1965, when he served as command pilot on the Gemini 5 shot. Despite 12 equipment malfunctions, the Oklahoman and his partner Charles Conrad circled the earth 120 times during their eight-day stint. The Gemini 5 flight made Cooper the first man to make two orbital flights. The flight also thrust the United States to the front in the space race and put this nation ahead of the Russians in time in space. Cooper is a great contrast with the three other Oklahoma native astronauts. While the other throe fall into scholarly lines, Cooper is a daredevil with a love of fast boats and fast cars. , Tom Stafford, 37, is what NASA officials calls the new breed," He has written textbooks on flying and has a passion for physical culture with an interest in handball, weight lifting and swimming. The Weatherford native, a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, has 100 hours in space. Stafford has probably boon plagued by more malfunctions than any other astronaut. Twice his Gemini 6 mission was scrubbed because of ground troubles and his Gemini 9 rendezvous with an Agena could not succeed since a hatch cover failed 1o detach from the vehicle. But Stafford, too, rated high on performance in both his missions. PRIDE m Haskel A. Blair -a Preside? University Sound OkMiomi City, Oklahoma Mt ... Gemini 6 with Stafford and Schirra went aloft Dec. 15, 1965, for 28 orbits. Highlight of the flight dubbed "Spirit of 76" was the first space rendezvous. The Gemini 6 vehicle was flown to within six feet of the Gemini 7 of Frank Borman and James Lovell. The flight came after two cancellations. Once it was scrubbed on October 25 when an Agena failed to orbit and the flight was cancelled on December 12 when a faulty plug shut down the rocket engines just prior to launch. Stafford's second flight was in Gemini 9 with Eugene Cernan in which Cernan logged 2 hours and 10 minutes in a space walk: Stafford proved to be a good marksman, too. His spacecraft made a perfect re-entry coming down .4 of a. mile from the designated target area and within ly-miles from the prime recovery ship. What kind of men are these Oklahoma astronauts? They could be the kid next door. They are the products of Oklahoma public schools, from medium sized towns. Socage records They had an interest in science and mechanics and an adventuresome spirit. ' Shawnee school officials described Cooper as a good student with grades good enough for the National Honor Society. He was classed in "the upper section of the big, wholesome middle group." He went out for high school football but never made the team. The future astronaut ran the 440 and a leg on the mile relay team on a track squad that finished as runner-up in the state championships. Flying became a passion with Cooper. He learned to fly in the early 1940's, winning his wings at 17. Cooper would pedal his bicycle to a Shawnee airport where he worked for his tuition to earn flying lessons from M. C. Davenport. , The astronaut's father, the late Leroy Gordon Cooper, served as county, superior and district judge in 1 ot-tawatomie County in the 1920 and 1930s. Stafford is remembered in Weatherford as a fun-loving kid who had people constantly on guard worrying about his crazy stunts and experiments. While in high school a turning point came in his life when his father, Dr. Thomas P. Stafford, a dentist, was stricken with cancer. t Tnm found it necessary to go to woiiv un ooiu.,,. Young Stafford was a top dreamed of a career in cnemicai engine u b. ... tie chance of going to OU. Stafford took the entrance exam for West Point and Annapolis and made one of the Oklahoma is making space exploration. full contribution to Head of the nation's space program is James E. Webb, a former Oklahoma City executive.- Four astronauts are native Sooners; three others have close ties to the state. Col. Gordon Cooper of Shawnee was one of the original Mercury astronauts. Dr. Owen K. Garriott, Enid, is one o the first scientist astronauts. With a bachelor's degree from OU and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford, he specializes in study of the ionosphere. Fred W. Haise jr. of Mississippi was graduated from OU with honors in aeronautical engineering as preparation for becoming an astronaut. Parents of Cmdr. Edgar D. Mitchell, astronaut from New Mexico, live in Tahlequali. Maj. William Reid Pogue of Okemah, former assistant professor of mathematics, can lay claim to one .space first. He will be the first Baptist deacon to be launched. Astronaut Maj. Stuart Allen Roosa, although born in Colorado, received most of his schooling in Oklahoma. Weatherford native Tom Stafford, who has written textbooks on flying, now has 100 hours in space. But after graduation, Stafford highest grades. He chose Annapolis entered the air force. . After flight training, Stafford flew interceptor aircraft in the United States and Germany before being assigned to the USAF Experimental Flight Test School, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He served as chief of the performance branch of the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School where he was responsible for supervision and administration of flying curriculum for student test pilots. In this position Stafford co-authored two flying textbooks They are "Pilot's Handbook for Performance Flight Testing" and "Aerodynamics Handbook for Performance Flight Testing." Pogue 37, one of the new astronauts, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Pogue, Sand Springs. His father is principal of Lake Elementary School. He started out to be a school teacher, then switched to flying and served a duty tour as a member of the famed Thunderbirds, the USAF demonstration flight team. He also did a stint at England's Empire Test Pilot School at Farnborough, England. As Pogue explains it, "I was going to be a school teacher, but I always wanted to fly. I never had the money to fly and couldn't do it until I joined the air force. Pogue received a bachelor of science degree in education from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1951 and earned a master's in mathematics from Oklahoma State University in I960. Between his two degrees, Pogue joined the air force and logged 43 combat missions in Korea. Following this tour, Pogue between 1955 and 1957 was a member of the Thunderbirds before resigning from the Thunderbirds to work on his OSU degree. Sec. IV. Forward Oklahoma THE SUNDAY OKLAHOMAN November 12, I967?l7 Pogue then spent two years at the Air Force Acade; jnvr.nK . -.n jissistrini nrnfossor of mathematics. " !: Pogue can lay claim to one space first. He no doubt will bo the first Baptist deacon to be launched. During his davs at OSU, Pogue was ardained a deaj; ocn by the University Heights Church. Also, his wife, the former Nita Dittmar Cromwell, is the daughter of a Bapj list minister. .K Many Oklahomans have seen Pogue fly though they may not'realize it. The Oklahoma pilot flew the solo position with the Thunderbirds in Oklahoma City in 1956 during the National Air Show. ! Enid's Owen K. Garriott, 36, has a different baclt; ground from the others. He is one of the first scientist astronauts, a man trained on the campuses and in the laboratories instead of in the air. , His father, Owen Garriott, is associated with Sun-ray-DX Oil Co. and is a retired Enid city councilman. When Dr. Garriott was graduated from Enid HiJi School in 194S the sehc ol yearbook listed him as "most likely to succeed." This was based on the many honors he earned in school. He went on to the University of Oklahoma and completed work on a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1953, served as president of the senior class and was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. Dr. Garriott earned his master's and doctor's in electrical engineering at Stanford University. At the time of his selection for astronaut training, Dr. Garriott was associate professor of electrical engineering, attached to Stanford's radio science laboratory. Pie specializes in study of the ionosphere. ; Commenting on his selection the Enid scientist said, "My selection for the astronaut training program is not a change of career but a change of career direction. "It presents a rare opportunity for an ionospheric scientist, who is normally forced to study his subject from the ground, to actually get up there and surround himself with it." While other Oklahoma astronauts showed a passion for flying in their youth, Garriott's interest lay with radio. Prior to his choice for the space program Dr. Garriott had flown onlv a small plane. He now has 600 flying hours with 400 hours logged in jots. He earned his ham radio license during high school. Dr. Garriott also worked as an engineer assistant in KCRC radio in Enid during high school. Dr. Garriott served three years as a navy lieutenant and spent, a year at Cambridge University in England on a national science grant. mathematics student and About the author Jim Young, a native of Cushing, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He has been with the The Daily Oklahoman for 17 years, is a specialist in governmental affairs and po'i-tics, and is a member of the state capitol bureau. Young, a former city editor of The Daily Oltlahsman. has been Amnrica'c nace nroaram and has an extensive collection of space stamps, including some that are autographed by American spacemen. And, if there's a more fervent fan of OU's Big Red, he is yet to be heard from. intent follower of It's a Fact Robert S. Kerr, governor from 1943 until 1947 and later United States senator, was the state's first native-born governor. It's a Fact The geographic center of Oklahoma is about eight miles north of greater Oklahoma City. EXPERIENCED, DEDICATED TO BETTER SERVE YOU MMtS MJSStt State bird. It was born out Route 66. In the ragged flatlands settled by a hardy group of pioneers, who called (he plate Bethany. Now, Bethany U one of the headquarter of Aero Com nander. Which turn out the Turbo It Commander, Grand Commander and Aero Commander MOU. The twin-engine Tough Bird. They've flown Oklahoman workmanship and Oklahoman ruggedneaa all over the world. Sure, we've got another State Bira. t pretty one wnPiji mi aiwi g Flycatcher. But ask aonsebody in New comei from Oklahoma. Hell give you an anewor you can be proud of. Aero Commander Tnjfli hem Irna rum fkaatliw We dwnfl

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