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Soyeon Yi - The First Korean Astronaut

Did you have trouble figuring out your major when you were in college? If so, you already have one thing in common with the world’s first Korean astronaut, Soyeon Yi. After toying with the idea of becoming an industrial engineer—she always loved designing buildings and drawing—Soyeon Yi realized it wasn’t the right fit for her; then, through a process of elimination, she decided to pursue mechanical engineering all the way through graduate school. Soyeon Yi, who also happens to be a...


Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

Did you know that 80% of the world’s blindness can be cured, and 90% of those cases occur in low to middle income countries? The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital works to decrease preventable and curable incidents of blindness with its mobile operating room and teaching facility. The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital started in 1982 with a DC-8 plane that flew to locations around the globe that are in desperate need of basic eye treatment for preventable and curable conditions. Now, Orbis boasts an MD-10...


Preserving The Future History Of Space

As SpaceX and Blue Origin continue to make history by building rockets that will take future space vacationers to the Moon or Mars, the Museum is thinking about how to preserve the history of these private companies. Back in the 1960’s and up until now, it was easy for historians to access public records at NASA that documented the space race; and that’s not the case now. According to our Adjunct Curator for Space History, Geoff Nunn, “corporate archives are becoming ever more important, but...


Fighter Aces - In Their Words

The American Fighter Aces Association preserves the memories of pilots who have sacrificed bravely for their country, and the Museum is home to its collection of artifacts and stories, including the oral histories of numerous pilots we’ve interviewed. In this edition of our Personal Courage series, we sit down with digitization specialist Ali Lane to listen to highlights from oral histories of three pilots—Gregory A. Daymond, Harold E. Comstock, and Louis William (Bill) Chick, Jr. We learn...


Meet An R2-D2 Builder

Episode 13: Meet and R2-D2 Builder Bob Jacobson, R2-D2 builder extraordinaire, claims that he wasn’t always into engineering, but the process of building his droid forced him to learn some basic and advanced techniques. Our host caught up with Jacobson at the Museum’s R2-D2 Builder’s Expo, held every year in the spring. Jacobson and his R2-D2 were game for all of our questions, like what inspired him to pursue R2-D2 building and what he really thinks of BB-8. You’ll also be surprised to hear...


She Opened Up the Skies

Episode 12: She Opened Up the Skies A faceless mannequin wearing a 1920s’ style dress is posed next to our Boeing model 40B, but it’s not just there for show. The mannequin represents Jane Eads, the world’s very first transcontinental commercial airline passenger. In 1927, when she was just a 21-year old journalist, Eads rode in a 40B on a mail route from Chicago to San Francisco. Back then, the journey took 22 hours. Her vivid descriptions about her experience in the air led to more people...


The Man Behind the Hubble

Back in 1977, when Bob Alexander was just a young engineer, he was chosen to work on a challenging new project: the Hubble space telescope. During his ten years on the project, Bob—now a Museum volunteer—advanced to the level of supervisor and recalls that with all the experienced engineers working alongside him, designing the Hubble was a pretty smooth operation. This week, we’ve tapped Akshay Murthy, a student at Tesla STEM High School in Bellevue, to do the interview because of his...


Do Airplanes Have Keys

Episode 10: Do Airplanes Have Keys? This week we talk to Kevin Gordon, first officer for Alaska Airlines, who graciously answers questions that our listeners have submitted via social media. Do a pilot’s arms get tired after flying all day? And can they watch movies during their flights? Gordon answers these queries and explains that the titles captain and first officer, which many mistake for pilot and co-pilot, stem from military traditions and denote levels of responsibility in the...


Surviving The Final Frontier

Episode 9: Surviving the Final Frontier Did you know that for every month you spend in space, you lose about 2% BMI? Neither did we until we talked to Tommy Gantz, one of our volunteers and resident space experts. Over the years she’s spent a lot of time studying space travel and life aboard the International Space Station, and has developed a deep respect for anyone who travels to space. Gantz admires astronauts—“They remind me of the first great aviators”—but maintains that she’s not...


The Angel Bird

Episode 8: The Angel Bird Hustling in and out of a Huey helicopter is one of the most vivid memories of Platoon leader David Waggoner and crew chief Jerry Sousa: it took 10-15 seconds to load and unload the helicopter, and their journeys took them to hot zones where they were vulnerable to enemy fire. The Huey and those who flew in it were fearless, reporting to every call no matter how dangerous, and ended up transporting over 90,000 soldiers during the war. Ultimately, Waggoner and Sousa...


Remembering Apollo Astronaut Dick Gordon

Episode 7: Remembering Apollo Astronaut Dick Gordon Dick Gordon passed away in November 2017, and author and volunteer Jake Schultz had the honor of recording Gordon’s oral history few months prior to learn about his experiences as an astronaut. In this episode, Gordon talks spaceflight, corvettes, and football. He recalls the differences between the Gemini and Apollo missions. Gemini’s Titan II rocket was an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) designed to get you into orbit as fast as...


Shouting At Hitler

Episode 6: The Personal Courage Series: Shouting at Hitler Show Notes: In this second installment of our Personal Courage series, B-17 pilot Dick Nelms takes us on one of his missions and shares how he and his comrades dealt with fear and other realities of war. From a young age, Dick loved planes and when the time came to participate in the war effort, he knew he wanted to fly. And it’s a good thing he did: his 35 missions contributed to the final Allied victory. Dick looks back on his time...


When We Chose To Go To The Moon

Episode 5: When We Chose to Go to the Moon How did a bunch of Houston high school students help President Kennedy drive the United States towards putting a man on the Moon? In September 1962, Bob Salling, one of our docents, was pulled out of school along with tens of thousands of other Houston high school students to hear a speech by President Kennedy at Rice University. Salling remembers that “a lot of people didn’t like Kennedy, a lot of parents didn’t like Kennedy, and by extension their...


A Brief History Of Legroom

Episode 4: A Brief History of Legroom Has your airplane seat felt a little tight lately? It’s not just you—it’s the evolution of legroom on passenger planes, and it’s not getting any roomier. We talk to Marva Semet to discuss how this battle for inches came about. Semet finds that spaces weren’t always so tight on in the early days of aviation, when flying itself was a luxury for the very few. During the 1940s, airlines realized that “the more people they could fit into an aircraft, the...


Galactic Mix Tape Vol. I

Episode 3: Galactic Mixtape Vol. 1 What’s on the cassette tape that can be found at the end of our Apollo (http://www.museumofflight.org/Exhibits/Apollo) exhibit? We chat with exhibit developer Peder Nelson to learn more about this mysterious aerospace artifact. The mix tape belongs to the widow of Pete Conrad, who brought it with him on Skylab 1. As it turns out, Conrad was a huge country music fan! In order to uncover the playlist, Nelson had to pay a visit to GT Recording, who was able to...



Episode 2: WASPs The Women Airforce Pilots did not let anyone stand in their way of serving their country during WWII. These women flew and delivered planes to assist in the war efforts, but their struggles and achievements have gone unrecognized for years. After WWII, the U.S government sealed all documents relating to the WASPs. Our guest Diane Belanger is an expert on the history of WASPs and tells us about their work—ferrying newly built warplanes to be used overseas—and the one of the...


The Spacewalker

Episode 1: The Spacewalker What’s it like repairing a billion-dollar solar panel while hurtling 4.67 miles per second through space? Our guest this week, Scott Parazynski, shares the answer with us as we discuss his experiences as an astronaut, mountaineer, and physician to aerospace icon John Glenn, who he likes to describe as a “space rookie.” As an Eagle Scout, Parazynski understands that accomplishing huge goals—like being an astronaut and climbing Mt. Everest—is the result of completing...