Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise of Apollo 13 fame with two of the vehicles from his 20-year career with NASA – a model of the space shuttle, and the restored M2-F1 lifting body that he flew when he was a research pilot at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in the mid-1960s. Haise flew three of the five approach and landing flight tests of the prototype shuttle Enterprise at NASA Dryden in 1977. (NASA / Tony Landis)
Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise detailed his flights in the space shuttle Approach and Landing Tests in 1977 during an historical colloquium at NASA Dryden Aug. 11. Haise considered his involvement in that program a highlight of his 20-year career with NASA. (NASA / Tony Landis)
Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise returned to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center Aug. 11 to share recollections of his time as a research pilot at the center in the 1960s and to participate in ceremonies honoring him at the Lancaster Jethawks baseball team's annual Aerospace Appreciation Night in nearby Lancaster, Calif., Aug. 13.
Haise, best known for his harrowing experience with fellow astronauts James Lovell and Jack Swigert after an oxygen tank exploded on the service module during the abortive Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970, was joined by retired fellow astronaut Gordon Fullerton and research pilots Fitzhugh Fulton and Tom McMurtry during pre-game ceremonies at the Lancaster Municipal / Clear Channel Stadium, also known as the Hangar.
Haise and Fullerton flew three of the five approach and landing flight tests of the prototype space shuttle orbiter Enterprise at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base in 1977, and Fulton and McMurtry were the pilots of the modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft that carried Enterprise aloft for the tests.
The pre-game ceremonies at the stadium included a video tribute to Haise and a flyover by a NASA F/A-18 aircraft, as well as a giveaway of bobblehead likenesses of Haise standing in an Apollo capsule to the first 1,000 fans who attended the game. Haise also threw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Jethawks game with the San Jose Giants of the Class A California League.
Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise mugs with a "bobblehead" figure of himself. The bobblehead of Haise will be given out to fans attending the Lancaster Jethawks baseball game during their Aerospace Appreciation Night game on Saturday evening, Aug. 13, in Lancaster, Calif. (NASA / Tony Landis)
Haise, who was employed by NASA from 1959 through 1979 after a stint as an Air Force fighter pilot, spent three of those years as a research pilot at the Flight Research Center. He recalled those years during an historical colloquium Thursday afternoon, Aug. 11, before an appreciative audience of Dryden employees. His "Remembrances of my best flying days at FRC" focused on Haise' three years as a research pilot at NASA Dryden from 1963 through 1966, prior to being accepted for NASA astronaut training.
"It was the most fun day-to-day time I've had in my life," he said.
Prior to his presentation, Haise toured many of today's flight research projects and aircraft at NASA Dryden, along with getting re-acquainted with the restored prototype lightweight M2-F1 lifting body that he flew in tethered flight in the mid-1960s. The following day, he toured NASA Dryden's Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, where the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy and most of NASA Dryden's fleet of science aircraft are based.
Retired NASA astronaut and research pilot Fred Haise and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center director David McBride unveil a new historical painting by noted artist Bob Schaar of Haise and several of the aerospace vehicles he flew during his long career following Haise' colloquium presentation at NASA Dryden Aug. 11. His "Remembrances of my best flying days at FRC" focused on Haise' three years as a research pilot at NASA Dryden from 1963 through 1966 prior to being accepted for NASA astronaut training. (NASA / Tony Landis)