NASA astronaut Major General Joe Engle will speak at the Cosmosphere tonight - Friday, July 3 - at 7 p.m. in a presentation that's free and open to the public.
A native Kansan, Engle was an X-15 pilot and spacecraft Commander on Shuttle missions. The following morning, he will be the Grand Marshal in the Hutchinson Fourth of July Parade.
Engle was the youngest pilot ever to qualify as an astronaut in 1965 when he flew the X-15 to an altitude of 280,600 feet. In 1981, Engle commanded the second orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle "Columbia," and became the first and only pilot to manually fly an aerospace vehicle from Mach 25 to landing.
Engle was Commander of Space Shuttle "Discovery" on flight 51-I in 1985. The crew deployed three communications satellites, and performed a successful on-orbit rendezvous and manual repair of a disabled communications satellite.
Engle has flown over 185 different types of aircraft including 38 different fighter and attack aircraft. He has logged more than 14,700 flight hours - 9,900 in jets and over 224 hours in space.
His military decorations include the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, and the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster. He has also been awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and NASA Space Flight Medal with device.
As "Test Pilot Emeritus" of the USAF Test Pilot School, he remains active in flying, including current jet fighter aircraft, and is also an avid outdoor sportsman and wildlife enthusiast. He has been inducted into the Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame, the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and in 2001 he was one of four aviation pioneers enshrined into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.