NASA People

Center Snapshot: Todd Spangler
Snapshot: Todd Spangler. Image above: Todd Spangler is overseeing the project of re-paving NASA's Langley Research Center this summer. NASA/Sean Smith

Jim Hodges

The trailer for "The Box" primed the pump.

Todd Spangler saw himself for the briefest time, just a glimpse really, but it's amazing what you can do with a bit of electronic wizardry.

"Right at the end, where they're dragging James Marsden out of the hangar, there are some black ops guys standing around," Spangler said. "I'm the second one on the left from the center. It's a quick blip, but with today's technology I can pause it and say, 'Hey, I know him.' "

Spangler laughs.

"My wife's really excited," he adds.

Spangler's own appetite is whetted for more, and you can bet he'll be near the front of the line when the movie comes to a theater.

"I drove my car around, a 1971 Dodge Demon (during the movie)," said Spangler, a project manager with ROME's Oversight Branch. "I also played a NASA researcher. I played a press guy, with a camera, and the most notable part was when I played a black ops guy. They dressed me with an M-16, the whole nine yards.

So what turns out to be a fraction of a second of trailer screen time could become much longer in the film. At least he hopes so.

"I can't wait until the movie comes out," Spangler said.

Until that happens, he'll have to content himself with a job that involves several jobs, really, and that's its lure. A product of the Newport News Apprentice School, he once worked on aircraft carrier repair and design. It would take years to see the fruition of his effort.

"The greatest gratification was when Discovery Channel would come out and film these carriers from start to finish," he said. "You had to wait to see it. It's pretty neat to see what you did is being used."

Now he has a job that offers more starts and finishes. The most visible is overseeing the repaving of NASA Langley, an $840,000 project scheduled to be complete later this month.

"I've accomplished 395 jobs or am in the process of completing them," Spangler said. "They range from jobs as small as $100, installing receptacles, pretty simple stuff, to what we're doing now."

That's the kind of instant gratification he came to NASA Langley to find.

Away from Langley, he and wife Stephanie go to the beach and to concerts at the Mariners Museum and at Port Warwick. They support sons Joshua and Brennon. Joshua is waiting to go into the Coast Guard after his recent graduation from the Aviation Academy, a magnet school supported, in part, by NASA Langley.

Brennon is a sophomore at Menchville High School who plays trombone in the school band that spent last New Year's in London, marching in a parade. The group has been invited to Italy for a performance in a year or so.

Todd and Stephanie also follow NASCAR, going to Richmond for races and rooting for Tony Stewart, who won Monday's event at Watkins Glen.

"My wife, before we were married, had nothing to do with NASCAR," Todd said, chuckling. "She thought it was a bunch of rednecks. Now she's a bigger Tony Stewart fan than I am."

When they have more trouble getting along is during football season, when Todd roots for his Redskins and Stephanie for the Dallas Cowboys.

"We went twice last year," Spangler said. "They played on our anniversary and we got fourth-row tickets. Unfortunately the Redskins lost."

Or maybe not unfortunately.

"Well, on our anniversary, I wouldn't have it any other way," Spangler said. "I wouldn't want to have her mad at me the rest of the night because the Cowboys lost."