General Thomas P. Stafford
General Tom Stafford was a major figure in the development of aviation and space exploration during the last sixty years. He would test-fly some of the hottest aircraft of the day, and would fly to the moon on one of his four historic space missions. He would be honored with some of this country’s most prestigious awards, including the “Congressional Space Medal of Honor,” the “Wright Brothers” trophy, twice awarded the “Harmon Trophy,” and was even nominated for the “Nobel Peace Prize” for his command of the Apollo-Soyuz mission in 1975 – a mission that would successfully bring together astronauts from the United States and the Soviet Union – on what many historians believe was the beginning of the end of the Cold War. He would become the first astronaut to become a General, and the first General to fly in space.
After leaving NASA in 1975, and rejoining the Air Force as a Major General, he would play a major role in the development of stealth technology, would command the Air Force’s Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, California, and oversee the operation of the highly Top Secret “Area-51” in the Nevada desert where some of America’s most important and sensitive aerospace technology was perfected. After leaving the Air Force in 1979 as a 3-star General, Stafford would go on to start a successful aerospace consulting firm, and to serve on the boards of numerous Fortune 500 corporations.
At the age of 87, Stafford continues to be extremely active in the aerospace world as an engineering and political consultant, and still serves as the Chairman of NASA’s Oversight Committee on Space Station safety.