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Saying Goodbye to an Aviation Hero
By AlphaNews
12/9/2016 10:57:00 AM
US Astronaut and Senator John Glenn

Yesterday the world lost a great aviation hero... John Glenn passed away at the age of 95. He was best known for his time at NASA, but he was also a senator as well as a former U.S. Navy and Marines pilot. 

John Herschel Glenn Jr. was born on July 18, 1921 in Ohio. After high school he went on to study engineering at Muskingum College and earn a private pilot's license. When the attacks on Pearl Harbor occurred he dropped out of school and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was never called to duty so he went on to enlist as a U.S. Navy aviation cadet. During his advanced training with the Navy Glenn had the opportunity to transfer to the U.S. Marine Corp. As a marine he flew in 149 combat missions in two wars (WWII and Korea) and received six Distinguished Flying Crosses and an Air Medal with eighteen award stars.

After combat, John Glenn was appointed to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School to fly planes to high altitudes and test their cannons and machine guns. In July 16, 1957, Glenn completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a Vought F8U-3P Crusader. It was during this time that his interest in space began.

Glenn began to work at Langley Air Force Base in VA executing test flights and doing design work for NASA research projects. In 1958 when NASA started to formally recruit astronaut candidates, Glenn made the cut. He went on to become the first American to orbit the Earth. Aboard the Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, on the Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, he circled the globe three times during a flight lasting nearly five hours. This made Glenn the third American in space and the fifth human being in space. In October 1998, Glenn returned to space on the Space Shuttle at the age of 77, making him the oldest person in space. When Glenn retired from NASA and the military he ran for the U.S. Senate and served as a senator from Ohio for more than 24 years.

John Glenn was a true aviation hero whose bravery led him to defend our country and contribute to space exploration. In a tribute President Barack Obama said that Glenn, "the first American to orbit the Earth, reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there's no limit to the heights we can reach together."

Fair winds and following seas, Senator Glenn.

Photo credits: US Congress, NASA

Tags: John Glenn, astronaut, NASA, space, aviation, hero
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