Saturday, July 05, 2008

Major Astro

I'm like 7 years old. My dad is working for Boeing doing sheet-metal work on B-52s, we are living in Mulvane, Ks and I'm watching this local TV show every day. It's 1962. The Mercury 7 Astronauts are the Knights In Shining Armor of the Kennedy Camelot, riding fiery rockets to joust against the godless, baby-eatin', Communist Cosmonauts.

Between the B-52 Overhaul Base and the F-105 Squadron at McConnell AFB, it's like an air show everyday! Bombers and fighters flying at tree-top level, sonic booms. You could wave at the airplanes and the pilots would tip their wings at you to say hello.

So McConnell AFB is going to have an Open House and Major Astro will be there to sign autographs. OMG!

We are walking through this huge hanger, getting my first close-up look at these incredible airplanes. I'm in 7 year old heaven!

I look down this obscure administrative hallway. Here comes Major Astro in his needlessly silverized, Mercury 7 Space Suit, space helmet tucket in the crook of his right arm, flanked by high-ranking United States Air Force officers, doing The Hero Walk.

It was one of the most awe inspiring moments of my life.

What can I say? I'm a techno-geek.


meesha.v said...

the cooler ending would be "...and that's how I became a fighter pilot..."

Anonymous said...

I worked in Wichita TV in the late 70s. Tom Leahy was Major Astro, he was also a weather person on KCTV, and at one point a news anchor. I also was priviledged to work with Henry Harvey, who as Elmer Fudd, Freddy's cousin, competed against Major Astro, he also played Santa Claus. I have a couple of the Santa's workshop on DVD, got them off the KAKE website.

Fiery said...

XO you are by far and away the coolest person I know in the blogosphere.

SmedRock said...

And to offset that before Xo breaks his neck with his freshly swollen head, due to the above comment.


Hop[e you had a good weekend Xo. Closes I got to NASA was when I was at Redstone Arsenal, just across the river from Marshal Spaceflight center, I was given the privilege of seeing a shuttle engine being test fired. When low and behold I met John Denver. And he was one stuck up prick. Would not shake a soldier's hand. Dick head.

Xavier Onassis said...

fiery - I'm very flattered. But did it ever occur to you how boring I must be to have the time to blog as much as I do? Over a 4 day holiday weekend I left the house exactly 3 times. No fireworks. No picnics. Minimal human interaction.

smedrock - Just one more reason I'm glad John Denver is dead.

Anonymous said...

Cool. Stumbled across this while looking for some Major Astro reference material. I lived in Wichita, and in 3rd grade, attended Park Elementary School. We lived over by Topeka and Murdoch, so my walk to school (yea, we used to do that.. several blocks. no abductions) took me right past KARD. I was a total Major Astro fan. One day after school, I spied Major Astro Himself, sporting a tweed sport jacket, shades and a pipe, walking out to his car parked in front of KARD. I ran up asked.."Hey, are you Major Astro???" He gave me sort of a snide look and a snicker, jumped in his car and sped off.

Fortunately for him, we moved not long after that. I had planned to grow up and kick his ass one day.

Seems there are some interesting parallels. My Dad also worked in the wartime aircraft industry at Cessna in those days. Then we moved to Independence.

Mary Ann said...

At the tender age of nine in 1962 I, too, was an ardent Major Astro fan! I was a card-carrying member of the cadets for gosh sakes. I'd run home every day from Pleasant Valley Elementary to catch the show.

Imagine my delight in winning a contest and landing a choice spot on his TV show! I couldn't sleep for days!

My dad took me to the studio at the appointed time, I was decked out in party dress and Mary Janes.

Was I ever surprised, more like shocked and taken back when the Major appeared, rather weaving, to take a seat and greet the other children and I. One by one we went up to his shiny metal knee to take a seat.

Right away I noticed the whites of his eyes were actually yellow. Hummm. Next I noticed a very odd smell on his breath. Could it be tobacco and booze? Probably, but at that unseasoned age I'd smelt neither!

The Major seemed to be going through the motions and I'm sure he was. Another day, another job as space hero. It was the day I remember I left a bit of fantasy and childhood awe behind. That and the day Huntley and Brinkley brought new words into my vocabulary, Viet Nam and body bag.