Sunday, June 07, 2009

Endeavour Astronaut David Wolf: Aerobatic Flyer

When it comes to being an astronaut or cosmonaut you are careful and selective in the activities you perform so that an injury will not sideline you from your flight assignment.

NASA astronaut David A. Wolf is the exception.
When I think of David I liken him to a cross between Peter Fonda's character in Easy Rider and Tom Cruise in Top Gun. Determined in achieving goals, but with a bad boy attitude. Very smart and gifted, David is a mediacal doctor with a passion for aviation, having flown in space on three spaceflights including a four month stay on the Russian Mir space station.

David also has an aeronautical hobby which takes his passion for flight to a new level and it was one in which he shared with his uncle - Aerobatic Flying.
In the 1980's, David and his Uncle Ed Wolf began flying muscle airplanes out of Clover Field near Houston, Texas, which led to competitive flying. Around 1988, David and Ed joined the Houston Aerobatic Club, and flew in several competitions including winning a first place award in 1991. A few months later, David became a full fledged astronaut with NASA.

Throughout the 1990's, while David trained as a mission specialist for a 1993 space shuttle flight, he continued to enjoy his aerobatic stunt flying. David flew a Black Eagle biplane [above], which he had purchased from a fellow astronaut; while his Uncle Ed flew a S2B Pitts biplane.

Although he still privately flies in his spare time, he does not competitive fly as much any more. Due to NASA rules limiting what an astronaut can do regarding physical sports activities that are non-NASA related, he had to tone down his stunt flying.


David has another flight this Saturday morning out of a tiny air strip known as launch pad 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center. To watch him in his winged craft Endeavour take off just after Sunrise at 7:17:15 am EDT, will be a treat for the aviator spectator - a true air show!

David will be able to once again roll heads down, pull 3G's and climb and continue to climb all the way up to 220 miles above the earth - the dream of every aviator.

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