A trio of distinguished astronauts were the guests of honor at the 2014 Aviation Heritage Park Hangar Party, launched June 14 at the Bowling Green/Warren County Regional Airport.
The event honored Russellville native and 1974 WKU graduate Terry Wilcutt, who was joined by fellow astronauts Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson and Dr. Rhea Seddon. With a combined 108 days in space, these astronauts have flown missions throughout the Space Shuttle program.
Wilcutt is the high flyer, with more than 1,000 hours in space. He has four shuttle flights, two as pilot and two as mission commander. After a long and distinguished career with the Marines, he joined NASA and currently serves as the Director of the Safety and Mission Assurance Directive at Johnson Space Center. Wilcutt was inducted into WKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 1995 and the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame in 2008.
Gibson, a retired U.S. Navy Captain, has five shuttle flights with 876 hours in space. While at NASA, he served as Chief of the Astronaut Office and was the Director Flight Crew Operations. He was a pilot with Southwest Airlines following his NASA career.
Dr. Seddon is an accomplished surgeon and served as a mission specialist on three shuttle flights, logging 722 hours in space. She is now the Chief Medical Officer with the Vanderbilt Medical Group. She is the wife of Capt. Gibson, and they reside in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
The theme for the event is “Lift Off! America’s Race to Space” and will feature the unveiling of the recently restored Northrop T-38 Talon.
“This aircraft will be the perfect centerpiece to this year’s Hangar Party,” said AHP President Jim Wright. “Every man to walk on the moon has flown this T-38, and it was flown personally by our own space shuttle commander, Terry Wilcutt.”
“Our mission at AHP is to bring stories of South Central Kentucky aviators to life by acquiring and restoring the aircraft they flew,” Wright said. “We want young people to look at these aircraft and dream. The history of this bird IS the history of manned spaceflight, and it will continue to serve here at AHP. She is gorgeous!”
The 2014 Hangar Party is a fundraiser for Aviation Heritage Park, which is located in Basil Griffin Park on Three Springs Road. Aviation Heritage Park is privately supported and uses no public funds. The event featured aircraft displays and fly-bys, a full barbecue dinner, and live music and dancing. Gates opened at 5 p.m. June 14.
WKU Press release