It is hard to witness history as the Space Shuttle Program comes to an end. While I was never a direct participant in the program, I owe a lot to the Space Shuttle Program for who I am today.
I was four years old when Space Shuttle Columbia launched on STS-1 in 1981. I remember sitting with my parents in our living room watching on TV as the orbiter landed on the dry lakebed at Edwards Air Force base and thinking how cool it would be to be an astronaut and fly on a vehicle like that.
Days and years passed, and as much as I could, I would follow the Space Shuttle program through triumph and tragedy. I enjoyed classes and units at school on space and the U.S. space program. Hanging on the wall in my bedroom throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, and even part of college was this picture on a poster of the launch of STS-1 that I would look at when daydreaming of becoming an astronaut or a pilot.
In the end I chose a school and career path that led me to become an airline pilot, but the roots of my interest in science, math and aviation came from watching the Space Shuttle in all of it's power, majesty in ascent and grace on entry and landing. I hope that there is another vehicle to inspire my children to work hard to pursue their dreams.
So, farewell Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. I thank you. Fair winds and following seas.