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Touring NASA
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On 4/11/06 Danny King, Ross Burgess, Scott Toornburg, Rob Reece and myself RVated down from Dallas to NASA Houston for a tour of some of the stuff courtesy RV-8 driver and 25-year NASA employee Paul F. Dye.  Here are the photographic highlights - needless to say we are *PROFOUNDLY* grateful to Paul for taking time out of his busy day to show us space junkies around.  As Garth says, "We're not worthy!"

Before the flight down:   RV6+ in Grady's GLO Custom paint shop about to the stripped and painted.  This is a one of a kind RV-6 with four seats (back seats face aft and only hold children), a stretch fuse and a big motor.  I really liked the intake.

Enroute to Ellington field.  Of note is the battleship Texas and base for Ellington - where all the astronauts fly out of.  Flash is getting its annual, so I rode as passenger in Ross' RV-6.  Why don't I do it?  I want another set of eyes to go over it.  Cheap insurance, IMHO.  Randy Richmond is my A&P and I trust his work w/my life.  His number is 817.491.3792 and he's located at 52F.

Rob and Ross outside waiting for Paul.  Meeting Paul outside the Visitor Space Center.

OK, the next pics are the real gems.  Paul walked us around the floor where the astronauts train to use a bunch of the hardware that they will use in space.  The highlight for me was crawling *INTO* the shuttle procedural trainer.  No fooling - through the hatch and up the ladder to sit in the commander's seat.  You can see the regular tour in the shot of the payload bay (behind glass).  We tried to act important, but with all the big, dumb, happy grins on our faces and camera flashes going off in the cockpit I don't think the effect was what we were hoping for.  In the shuttle trainer there are essentially two decks (the mid deck and the flight deck) - that's the ladder between the two we are climbing up and down.  I'm glad Danny, Ross and Paul all wore their VansAirForce.net caps.  That's my cap sitting on the HUD in the cockpit (one of the two shots I really hoping to get).

Last pic in this group is of the toilet.  I'm giggling just typing that...

Rob (orange cap).  Scott (yellow shirt).  Danny (you know Danny).  Ross (white/blue vertical striped shirt).  Paul (dark shirt).

April 12, 1981 was the first flight of the Shuttle (STS-1: Columbia).  It's been 25 yrs - you can read all about it here.

The (6) pics below are Ross Burgess' picture highlights (everyone brought a camera):

NEW  The (3) pictures below were taken by Rob Reece (the guy in the orange cap)

(back to my pics)  Below is the 'big arm' for the space station and a group portrait L to R me, Paul, Ross, Scott, Rob and Danny).  Camera on trash can with self-timer - me showcasing my Yellow Pine, ID Harmonica Festival T-shirt.

Next Oh-My-God tour moment was Mission Control from the Gemini/Apollo era.  First pic is the other picture I wanted to really, really get - my cap resting on the Flight Director's console that worked the Apollo 11 mission (where Gene Kranz sat).  The second pic is Rob pretending he's Mr. Kranz.  Third shows the actual backup flag for the Apollo 11 mission hanging from the ceiling.  Fourth is of a piece of the Apollo 13 Lunar Module that the crew grabbed before detaching it from the Command Module.  We all certainly knew we were standing in a room where history was made.  Very humbling.

This is the 'new' Mission Control.  Paul took us to the 'crows nest' to watch some of a training sim.  This is where Paul works.

This is Apollo 18's Saturn V that is currently under renovation.  Pic one shows the business end of the escape tower.  Second shows the command module.  Third shows the shroud that would cover the Lunar Module.  We were happy that his treasure is now covered and will be protected for future generations.

Ellington on climbout - note NASA's 'Super Guppy' under the hanger in picture one and the astronaut T-38s in the second pic.

Coming home.

I can't thank Paul enough for his time, effort and friendship.  Paul, I owe you about 50 lunches. 

Thank you NASA

Thank you Van.

It continues to amaze me just how great RV people are.