NASA Dryden News Releases

3rd grade

April 4, 1996

Release: 96-19

Imagine being able to fly at an altitude of 79,000 feet traveling 2,000 mph and not even being strapped into an aircraft seat? On March 20, 1996 at Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA, onboard the SR-71, Travelmate Bear accompanied NASA pilot, Ed Schneider, and did just that.

Travelmate Bear traveled 1,800 miles in one hour and twenty minutes during the research flight. He flew from Edwards, Air Force Base, CA, over the states of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and California. Upon landing, he was joined by Ed Schneider, the SR-71 pilot and Marta Bohn-Meyer, an SR-71 Reconnaissance Systems Operator (RSO), for a group photo in front of the plane.

Prior to his SR-71 flight, Travelmate Bear flew a research mission on an F-18 aircraft. He traveled to San Antonio, TX, with Ed Schneider as the pilot and returned back to Dryden Flight Research Center.

"Bill" the Travelmate Bear came from Mrs. Jaffe's third grade class in Winchester, MA, as part of a class project to learn more about geography. The idea was for the bear to be passed from traveler to traveler and have postcards and souvenirs placed in the "kit" with the bear. In addition to illustrating geography lessons, Travelmate Bear's returning with NASA classroom materials designed to make science and math interesting to students. Before arriving at Dryden, Travelmate Bear first went to Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, and then to Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.

This weekend, Travelmate Bear will fly aboard the 747 carrier that will fly the Shuttle Atlantis back to Florida. STS-76 landed at Dryden Flight Research Center at 5:29 a.m. on March 31, 1996 after a nine day mission. He will accompany NASA pilots, Tom McMurtry and Gordon Fullerton, and be returned by U.S. Mail from Florida to his class back in Massachusetts.

Travelmate Bear has a journal with entries from several individuals and their personal accounts of the many interesting places they have traveled themselves. Although the bear was not able to fly to space aboard a Shuttle Mission, astronaut Story Musgrave wrote a note in the journal about his experience aboard the Shuttle and described how the "coral in the South Pacific surrounding the volcanic islands is glorious." Travelmate Bear will be returning to Ambrose School with several mementos from his trip. A commemorative certificate documenting his SR-71 flight along with commemorative coins, stickers and postcards are just a few of the items he will take back. The class members will read the journal entries and hopefully be able to have the benefit of travel without even leaving their seats.


Note to Editors: B-roll video available (i.e. interviews, SR-71 footage, stock footage of previous 747/Orbiter take-offs, etc...)

Photos in support of this release:

EC 96 43473-1 Travelmate Bear and NASA Pilots, Ed Schneider and Marta Bohn-Meyer EC 96 43473-2 "Studio" photo of Travelmate Bear and his mementos