Friday, November 14, 2008

Civil Air Patrol Colonel Pilots Space Shuttle Endeavour

Col. Eric Boe heads for a shuttle training aircraft to practice landings on the Shuttle Landing Facility's runway Nov. 11 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He is the STS-126 pilot and is a Civil Air Patrol member. (NASA photo by Kim Shiflett.)

News in Balance:

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala., Nov. 14, 2008 -- An Air Force colonel who is a senior member of the Civil Air Patrol piloted the Space Shuttle Endeavour for mission STS-126 when it blasted off Friday at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Col. Eric Boe, a NASA astronaut, pilots the shuttle in his first voyage into space as Endeavour supports the International Space Station.

Endeavour will dock with the space station and deliver supplies to support its expanding needs, including a multipurpose logistics module as part of a scheduled 15-day mission in space.

"I'm very excited to go into space and get the opportunity to represent the nation," Colonel Boe said. "It's a great opportunity to see what it's like to go into space."

A former Georgia Wing cadet and current Florida Wing member, Colonel Boe said his involvement with CAP as a young man helped him achieve his career goals of becoming a fighter pilot and an astronaut. Colonel Boe, who soloed at age 16 at a flight encampment conducted by the Georgia Wing, credited his cadet experience for solidifying his desire to fly.

"That was my first real opportunity to fly an airplane by myself," he said. "CAP gave me that opportunity, and it really made a difference in the long term. It's always nice to have flown before you show up at pilot training."

Colonel Boe, a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, was commissioned in 1987. After completing Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, in 1988, he was assigned to the 3rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at the former Clark Air Base, Philippines, as an F-4E pilot. In the early 1990s, he served as an instructor pilot in the T-38 and AT-38B. In 1994, he was assigned to the 60th Fighter Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla., serving as an F-15 Eagle flight commander. He flew 55 combat missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Colonel Boe was selected as a pilot by NASA in 2000, and reported to the Johnson Space Center. Following the completion of two years of training and evaluation, after fulfilling various duties there, he served as NASA director of operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, Star City, Russia.

In his time serving in the Air Force, Colonel Boe has logged more than 4,000 flight hours in more than 45 different aircraft.

(Report from a U.S. Air Force news release.)

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