Throughout my career many people have asked me, “So what is it like, really, working in aerospace?” And, “How did you get interested in aerospace, anyway?” So, I wrote a memoir, “Climbing into My Dream; An Aerospace Engineer’s Journey,” that includes stories to provide answers to each of those questions. It will also shed some light on why others within aerospace corporations, NASA, the government, the military, or the myriad of subcontractors and suppliers of aerospace equipment sought out the romance of flight and the excitement of space travel.
This memoir is my view of aerospace from literally cradle to, hopefully not anytime soon, grave. In it I also share my childhood experiences, dreams, interests, and motivations to show how they led to my professional life’s path. As with most people and just about any career there were times of excitement, anxiety, disillusionment, and gratification at just about every stage. There were many times I asked myself if the stress and the frustrations were all worth it. The answer was usually yes. There were exceptions and certainly toward the end of my career the frustration began to outweigh the excitement.
What made the journey well worth the effort were the people I worked with and the missions we accomplished. I feel that I contributed by applying common sense and “sanity” where it was sometimes lacking. Hopefully the early stories illustrate how common sense and “keep it simple” should be fostered today in young engineers, and young people in general.
I enjoyed very much mentoring the younger engineers. Admittedly it makes one feel important but, honestly, I genuinely enjoyed “giving back” and sharing my triumphs and especially my mistakes, whether technical or political, with them. Sometimes they looked at me in amazement after I told them about some risky or “crude but it got the job done” thing we did years before which, at the time, wasn’t a big deal. I remember that amazed look on their faces. I had that look; we all had it back then when we looked into our dinosaur elders’ eyes and listened to their stories, hanging on every word, and hoping our future experiences would be even half the fun they described. They were.
Throughout my life and career, I never really took myself seriously. My work I took seriously but I believed in having fun with everything; otherwise, what’s the point? Quite often I’d say, “If you’re not laughing, you’re dead.”
Unlike other books on aerospace written by ex-CEOs or other high ranking aerospace executives, this one will be a tad more from “in the trenches.” I did make it to middle management and I am completely satisfied with the level I achieved. These stories don’t focus on the business side of the industry, but rather on some of the more amusing situations I experienced throughout my career, things that just might paint a truer picture of what working in aerospace was like.
I enjoy telling stories and I’m sure my memoir will give you some insight into what made me choose aerospace, the path to get there, what it was like being there and, frankly, why it’s now great to be done with it all.