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Obviously I was challenged by becoming a Naval aviator, by landing aboard aircraft carriers and so on.
Later, in the early teens, I used to ride my bike every Saturday morning to the nearest airport, ten miles away, push airplanes in and out of the hangars, and clean up the hangars.
It's been a long way, but we're here.
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.
I'd like to say I was smart enough to finish six grades in five years, but I think perhaps the teacher was just glad to get rid of me.
I woke up an hour before I was supposed to, and started going over the mental checklist: where do I go from here, what do I do? I don't remember eating anything at all, just going through the physical, getting into the suit. We practiced that so much, it was all rote.
I think the sense of family and family achievement, plus the discipline which I received there from that one-room school were really very helpful in what I did later on.
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.
I must admit, maybe I am a piece of history after all.
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.
But when I was selected, after my very first tour of squadron duty, to become one of the youngest candidates for the test pilot school, I began to realize, maybe you are a little bit better.
And I think that still is true of this business - which is basically research and development - that you probably spend more time in planning and training and designing for things to go wrong, and how you cope with them, than you do for things to go right.
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