Bob Gilruth, the man credited for consulting President Kennedy into taking the US to the moon, was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Born in Minnesota, Bob graduated from high school and college in the Land of 10,000 lakes, before leading the Manned Space Programs. He oversaw 25 manned spaceflights, from the suborbital Mercury-Redstone 3 flight to the Apollo 15 lunar landing mission in July 1971.
In celebration of his life and accomplishments, AirSpace Minnesota invited many distinguished guests to join us in this monumental event at TCF Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. We were fortunate to have many guests speak at the program, including Dean Crouch from the U of M College of Science & Engineering give a message on the school, and as a special treat, we were able to see a video of Kennedy Space Center Directors Chris Kraft, Gerry Griffin, and George Abbey, as well as Glynn Lunney, Space Shuttle Program Director.
The Keynote Speaker for the day was Bob Cabana, current Director of the Kennedy Space Center and a fellow native Minnesotan. Like Bob Gilruth, Bob Cabana has been involved with space travel in many aspects, including four trips to space: pilot of Discovery on STS-41 in October 1990, the pilot of Discovery on STS-53 in December 1992, the commander of Columbia on STS-65 in July 1994, and the commander of Endeavour on STS-88, the first space station assembly mission, in December 1998. Mr Cabana is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School with over 7,000 hours logged in 36 different aircraft, and he graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Rounding out the day’s speakers were Mayor Chris Coleman of Saint Paul, speaking to his excitement of the STEM Port which is housed at Downtown St Paul’s airport, Holman Field, and Dale Klapmeier, founder and CEO of Cirrus Aircraft and Co-Chair of AirSpace MN, spoke about the importance of sharing our passions with future generations. Dale also spoke on the STEM Port as an invaluable tool for sharing our industry with students who visit the center.
While this breakfast had many speakers, all with interesting and important things to say, I was most enthralled with the things Bob Cabana had to say. When speaking on Mr Gilruth, Bob said that he was a quiet man. He listened more than he spoke, but when he had something to say, everyone stopped to listen. Everyone.
The thing that stuck with me most, though, was Bob’s story of when he himself was a child, around the age of 5, and he went to the Smithsonian Museum in D.C. He said that the sight of the Spirit of St Louis and the Wright Flyer, suspended from the ceiling in the museum, were what inspired him to fly. Now as Director of the Kennedy Space Center, where Space Shuttle Atlantis is on display, he hopes that children who come to the Center see the Shuttle and have the same dream that he did. Bob knows the importance of inspiring future generations to #GoBoldly!
Bob showing guests at the breakfast his Omega Speedmaster watch, the only NASA approved watch for space travel. And it just so happens to be the author’s favorite timepiece!
Jet-ssica meeting Bob Cabana at the conclusion of the Tribute Breakfast