The first plane ride was in a homemade glider my buddy and I built. Unfortunately we didn’t get more than four feet off the ground, because it crashed.
Then there was the challenge to keep doing better and better, to fly the best test flight that anybody had ever flown. That led to my being recognized as one of the more experienced test pilots, and that led to the astronaut business.
Miles and miles and miles.
I think all of us certainly believed the statistics which said that probably 88% chance of mission success and maybe 96% chance of survival. And we were willing to take those odds.
The pilot looked at his cues of attitude and speed and orientation and so on and responded as he would from the same cues in an airplane, but there was no way it flew the same. The simulators had showed us that.
Obviously I was challenged by becoming a Naval aviator, by landing aboard aircraft carriers and so on.
The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder.
It’s a very sobering feeling to be up in space and realize that one’s safety factor was determined by the lowest bidder on a government contract.
So everything turned out fine, and we were given the opportunity to go to Washington and be briefed on the project of man in space, and given the opportunity to choose whether we wanted to get involved or not.
Because of the suit I was wearing, I couldn’t make a good pivot on the swing. And I had to hit the ball with one hand.
I didn’t mind studying. Obviously math and the physical science subjects interested me more than some of the more artistic subjects, but I think I was a pretty good student.
I can hit it farther on the moon. But actually, my swing is better here on Earth.