My father was a Navy pilot. When I was a child he still served in the reserves but as I grew older, he went on inactive duty and when he was in his 60s, retired.
My dad wasn’t much of a talker, but when he did talk, family could count on stories about his days as a pilot. At his funeral, I learned he’d barely graduated high school, largely because he was bored. He enlisted in the Navy and served on a ship and became interested in flying. He found out he had to have certain degree requirements to get into pilot’s training and he worked on those and passed.
While he was shorter than average and had the slightest heart murmur, the Navy doctor still passed him as fit to fly. He was in the Navy when they sent out the first call for astronauts and my cousin who is more than a decade older than I am remembers my dad coming home and talking to his ma about applying. She was adamant that he not do so.
I’m sure even if he had, those minor issues that the Navy doctor had allowed to slide would have disqualified him from being an astronaut.
Instead, he met my mom and decided if he were going to raise a family he could do better in the private sector so he became an engineer. He worked on the Saturn V rocket and later on the 747. We moved to California and he went to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratories and worked on most of the unmanned space craft from the Viking program through Cassini. He died before Cassini launched.
It’s been more than twenty years but I still think about my dad, wonder what he’d say about certain changes. I wrote a character named John King in the book Down in Whisper. I don’t think it’s the best written of my books but I like it because I created that character in memory of him.