The CAS hosted former astronaut, United States senator and Marine Corps pilot John Glenn in Martin Rottler’s Aviation 2000 class on November 11. Senator Glenn spoke about how much the aviation industry has matured in the relatively short time since the Wright brothers’ first flights. “I am amazed at how far we have come in a short period of time. After the Wright brothers, it was less than 15 years until aviation was used in the military in World War II,” Senator Glenn stated.
Senator Glenn went on to discuss that in the early days in the Marine Corps, aviators had to fly at night using light patterns to identify towns. During the day, pilots also identified towns by the name of the town painted on the top of a barn or water tower. As technology developed, a radio beam system became the standard navigation system for the country. Senator Glenn described the operation of the system using sometimes unreliable audio signals of Morse code to navigate to and from airports.
Senator Glenn also discussed the importance of the space program. He described the importance of the International Space Station as the most unique lab that has ever been put together and has resulted in important research that impacts business as well as human health. Glenn stated his belief that an understanding of the overall importance the NASA space program to the country and the world will return. He also believes that citizens of the United States will realize that the research is necessary because this country has traditionally recognized the value of having an educated citizenry. When the United States was founded, explained Senator Glenn, we were the first nation to recognize that each individual deserves to have an education, and this lead to the United States quickly growing from its infancy to becoming a world leader. He commended the students in the class for taking an important step in their education by attending Ohio State University.
As the class concluded, Senator Glenn took questions from the aviation students and faculty. When asked to compare his first Project Mercury space flight in 1962 with his flight on the Shuttle Discovery in 1998 when he was 77 years old, the Senator replied, “The emphasis of the Mercury flight was to find out if we could even do a space flight. On the shuttle flight, we were doing basic research.” When asked which flight was the better ride, Senator Glenn replied, “The shuttle.”
Martin Rottler stated that “having the opportunity to hear from Senator Glenn, a true American hero, is both a professional and personal highlight for the students and for me, and is not something we will soon forget.”