Aerospace Night a Hit - Haise, ALT Crews Score Home Run With Fans
Fred Haise has been a research pilot, astronaut, leader of industry, a hero and, as of Aug. 13, a bobblehead.
The lucky first thousand fans at the JetHawks Aerospace Appreciation Night received a bobblehead of him, courtesy of the JetHawks and their sponsors. Everyone at Clear Channel Stadium in Lancaster saw Haise throw a ceremonial first pitch right down the strike zone. And the crowd was wowed by a flyover by Dryden pilot Troy Asher and videographer Lori Losey in one of the center's F/A-18s.
For seventh grader Kevin Petersen, the event was a chance to meet one of his heroes.
"It was amazing. It was like meeting a movie star, the president and a superhero all rolled into one," Petersen said.
Before Haise was transferred to Johnson Space Center, Houston, for astronaut training in 1966, he spent three years as a Dryden test pilot.
His work at the center included helping to pioneer the lifting body aircraft with flights of the M2-F1. He also flew the variable-stability T-33A to simulate M2-F2 flights and the PA-30 to evaluate lifting-body handling qualities. He returned to Dryden in 1977 as part of two two-member crews for the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise prototype.
Haise said it was special being with the first crew of the Enterprise and the NASA 747 that carried it to altitude for test. That test included Haise as the commander and C. Gordon Fullerton in the pilot's seat for Enterprise, and Fitz Fulton and Tom McMurtry flew the host NASA 747. The four men were recognized on the field before the game.
"It's been great because I hadn't seen many of them for quite a few years. It particularly was good because we're within one day of the anniversary of when we first flew Enterprise.
"We launched it yesterday [Aug. 12], 34 years ago," he said.
Haise's visit to the Antelope Valley included an Aug. 12 tour of the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale and Dryden's main campus Aug. 11, where he spoke to employees about his years at Dryden.
"It was the most fun I've had on a day-to-day basis, and the best time I ever had in my life," Haise said of his years at Dryden.
Haise's impression of the Enterprise control systems, which were validated on the Dryden F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire aircraft, was positive.
"Enterprise was a unique vehicle, and it had very sophisticated control systems. It was the type of thing where there was a lot of fancy stuff done through the computer to make it fly nice, much like modern fighters. Most modern-day fighters, if you didn't have that augmentation availability through a computer, would be unflyable," he said.
Enterprise whetted Haise's appetite for flying back to space on the STS-3 shuttle mission that was intended to be "an exciting mission where we were to rendezvous with Skylab to de-orbit it or boost it higher," he said.
But Skylab fell into the atmosphere even before the first shuttle flight, and the opportunity passed. Haise's interest in flying the revised mission didn't merit putting off retirement from NASA, he said. Fullerton was then chosen to command the STS-3 mission.
At his Dryden presentation, Haise told the audience how staffers at Kennedy Space Center in Florida were enticed to come out for the ALT flights and prepare for their role in the program.
"It was my idea. We wanted them to get an early start on the shuttle. We sent them photos of Santa Monica Beach, Tehachapi - and only dawn and dusk photos of the desert. At a party at the end of their stay, the wives threw me in the pool," he said.
Haise served as a backup crewmember for the Apollo 8, 11 and 16 missions. He flew on the aborted Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970, which was popularized for a new generation in the 1995 Apollo 13 movie. An oxygen explosion during what had been planed as a lunar mission forced the astronauts, with help from mission control, to convert the lunar module into a lifeboat. That enabled the crew, including Commander Jim Lovell, John "Jack" Swigert as command module pilot and Haise as lunar module pilot, to make it back to Earth.
Haise was technical assistant to the manager of the Space Shuttle Orbiter project from 1973 to 1976 before returning to Dryden in 1977 as an Enterprise crewmember.
The prototype crews included Haise (commander) and Fullerton (pilot), and Joe H. Engle (commander) and Richard H. Truly (pilot). Crewmembers for the 747 SCA included pilots Fulton and McMurtry and flight engineers Victor W. Horton, Thomas E. Guidry Jr., William R. Young and Vincent A. Alvarez. Haise and Fullerton flew Enterprise free flights one, three and five, Engle and Truly flights two and four.
Haise left NASA in 1979 to become vice president for space programs with the Grumman Aerospace Corp. He then served as president of Grumman Technical Services, an operating division of Northrop Grumman Corp., from January 1992 until his retirement.
Among awards he has received are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Haley Astronautics Award, the General Thomas D. White Space Trophy, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Special Achievement Award.
By Jay Levine