Last week marked the 38th anniversary of a Boeing 474's Maiden flight with the space shuttle Enterprise sitting atop it. It reminded me of the Space Shuttle Discovery's "piggyback" flight from a few years go when it left the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Washington, D.C to become part of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. It got me to thinking about what the conversation must have been like for the first pilot to fly the 747 plane that “piggy-backed” the Shuttle from California to Florida years ago. Imagine that conversation if you were the pilot.

"You want me to do what? You want me to fly the 747 and put another aircraft on top of it at the same time? Are you out of your mind?”

Well, somewhere in this great country of ours there was an engineer who said that it can be done. And he or she was right. It’s no different than being a test pilot for other aircraft like the Shuttle itself or the Apollo and Gemini spacecrafts before it. They build it and said it will fly now go prove it. That takes guts in my estimation.

How about the first people to board a submarine. “I’m gonna live underwater in this thing? Right!”

It takes a special person to want to do these things. How about Quincy native General Paul W. Tibbets who was the pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb in Japan. He had no idea what that bomb would do when it hit the ground below him.

The people that do these things are a special breed and where would we be without them. We might have lost World War Two or we might be driving the shuttle to Washington today. Just something to think about.

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