Re: Events on this day in history

From: Russell Whitaker (
Date: Wed Jan 24 2001 - 03:07:14 MST

>From: Amara Graps <>
>Events On This Day In History...
>Wednesday - January 24th...
>Day 24 of the year 2001,
>1986, Voyager II flies past Uranus.
>(memories!! I was at JPL watching, gathering our Voyager data)
>In a day or two from this date, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.

And I saw it happen, Amara, from the air over central Florida
in a training flight 28 January 1986 with Capt. Tom E. Davis
(USN, ret.) as my instructor, flying right seat. I have
the log entry here:

Date: 28 Jan 1986
Aircraft Make & Model: C-150
Ident: N5396Q
From: X-31 (Crystal River Florida)
To: LCL (local)
Remarks, Procedures, Maneuvers: AF5 (the syllabus designation
    for the flight, followed by Capt. Davis' CFII number)
Number of Landings: 1

The number of landings was unusual: 1. All the surrounding entries,
including an earlier flight the _same day_ had me pegged at an
average of 8 landings/flight; I was halfway through my first
certification at the time, not too far from its flight test.

You see, we'd gotten up to about 4300' MSL, which was plenty
of altitude on a clear day inland of Florida's Gulf coast to
give us visibility on the high altitudes over the Atlantic
coast. We saw the single rising plume, the chaotic mess
at (what I later heard) was the 85 second mark (throttleup)
and the fingers of smoke arcing in contradictory directions.

Capt. Davis understood the smoke signs sooner than I, and
without any talk at all took the yoke and throttle and
got us back down on the ground very quickly...
that one-and-only-one landing of that flight.

We didn't talk as we taxied, nor as we shut down the engine,
climbed out, tied down, chocked, and wandered back to the
FBO (which he owned at the time).

It was then that I understood fully, when we walked in to
the pilot's lounge. All the pilots were sitting around the
television. Crying.

This day in history, indeed. We'll get to the stars
eventually, _despite_ NASA.

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